City Council Candidates Announced

Qualifying closed today for the March 24, 2012 Louisiana Presidential and Municipal Primaries. Of most importance to me are the candidates for Arnie Fielkow’s New Orleans City Council At-Large seat. Unsurprisingly, I’m betting heavily that the candidates who’ve qualified will not be limiting city government any time soon. I’m already mourning my inability to run for the seat myself this time around.

Nevertheless, the fun of analyzing the candidates begins…now:

Austin Badon (D)

William “Poppa” Gant (I)

Eugene Green (D)

Andrew Gressett (R)

Stacy Head (D)

Gary Coldewy Landrieu (D)

Norbert Rome (I)

Cynthia Willard-Lewis (D)

I will be working on a questionnaire to send to the candidates next month on issues that concern Nolatarians. My early pick is Stacy Head, just so we have the opportunity for a libertarian candidate to run to take her City Council District B seat later next year. By the way, if you live in District B and know a good candidate, please let us know!

Also on the ballot is Judge Herbert Cade’s empty seat in Civil District Court which will become section 1 of the Domestic Section. One familiar name is running;

Janet Ahern (D)

Bernadette D’Souza (D)

Kris Kiefer (D)

So there we have it. More later.


Who’s Running for City Council?

This Wednesday-Friday qualifying is open for the March 24, 2012 Municipal Primary, which includes the remaining 2 years of Arnie Fielkow’s open At-Large City Council seat. To qualify, you only need be a New Orleans resident for the previous 2 years, pay a $375 fee (plus an additional $375 if you’re running as a Democrat or Republican), or present a 1,000 signature nominating petition. You’ll need to take this form with you to the Criminal District Court Clerk of Court office at 2700 Tulane Ave to register. I have mulled over running myself, but can’t do it this time around.

So, who’s going to run? According to the Times-Picayune we already have 3 declared candidates; Austin Badon, Eugene Green, and Stacy Head. In other words, carbon copies of the current makeup of the Council. One major talking point is the historical precedent of one At-Large seat being held by a white individual and one held by a black individual. That has not been the case since 2007. I hope that this outright racial behavior can finally be buried in New Orleans and the candidate elected is chosen solely based on perceived merit, not race. I guess we shall see. To all you libertarian leaning Nolatarian’s out there, hopefully we can make some noise in this election and start moving the scales back to a more limited city government and hopefully with a like-minded candidate of our own.

Can’t Afford That House? No Problem.

In the event that you missed it about a month ago, Mayor Landrieu announced a new program of $52.3 million in soft second mortgage homebuyer assistance. The program works like this; prospective homebuyer goes to the bank to get pre-qualified for a mortgage, bank says they’re approved for X, but homebuyer wants house that’s more expensive than X, bank and homebuyer apply with city for up to $65,000 extra for home they want, if they’re still in home after 10 years the loan is forgiven. All at federal taxpayer expense.

Now, this is not the first time the city has done this. The Nagin administration had a similar program after the storm. But really, let me get this straight. Instead of taking the position that maybe, just maybe, the buyer should just stick with the home they can afford or keep saving until they can do better, the city of New Orleans via a federal Community Development Block Grant program says “don’t worry about it, we’ll write you a check.” WTF?! Does no one remember what happened in 2008?! Yet another reminder to myself that I must stop thinking that the government can learn from its mistakes. Especially when the magic lies words of “affordable housing” and “first time home buyer” are involved. What about the people who do the responsible thing and figure out what their budget is and what they can qualify for and proceed within those boundaries? Where’s their check? Oops, I better be careful or next we’ll have the Responsible Homebuyer Debt Amnesty Bailout.

Where are the sane people?

Cartels Gone Wild – State Government Edition

Cutting hair. Selling tulips. Designing that living room makeover. These all seem to be pretty straightforward, above the cuff professions right? Most people would assume that if they saw an opportunity to make some money in the above fields then they should be able to simply acquire the necessary expertise, supplies, space and customers and open up shop. They would be wrong. In Louisiana and many other states, there exists a nasty little thing called “occupational licensing.” At least 69 professions in Louisiana alone require you to get a permission slip from the state before you can start working. Other professions also require federal licenses or some combination of federal + state. In an environment of high unemployment with people clamoring to “get back to work” you’d think that governments would be looking to scale back some of the barriers to entry in even the most basic of industries. Again, you would be wrong.

The stated reasoning behind occupational licenses is always presented as a method of protecting the public. Because clearly, a licensed barber will never give you a bad haircut, a licensed florist will always sell you beautifully long lasting flowers, and without your interior designer being licensed you can’t possibly find someone to design your home in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The reality is at best these are revenue generating annoyances and at worst they are anti-competitive measures backed by the industries themselves to limit new competition (essentially cartel behavior).

Aren’t tried and true methods like referrals, portfolios and testimonials enough to help find reputable people to do these jobs? Modernize the situation and you have Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Consumer Reports to not only find good people but make sure other people know about them if they’re bad. What happened to the state government expecting the consumer to take a little responsibility in doing their homework about a company or proprietor instead of telling us who’s approved? Also, just because you’ve hired someone who’s licensed is still no guarantee they’re any good at what they do. There’s a reason people pay extra to not go to Super Cuts. I am certainly not the first person to bring up these unnecessary government intrusions into working people and entrepreneurs lives. However, I intend to do something about it. I will keep you informed as to my research and efforts to scale back these impediments to the citizens of Louisiana who simply want to support themselves.

*Disclosure. I am FINRA Series 7 and 66 licensed as well as hold Louisiana Life, Health, and Variable Annuity insurance licenses.