Nolatarian Goes to Washington 11/21/11 – 12/2/11

“Nolatarian Goes to Washington” is a weekly column on the activities of Louisiana Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond.

Apologies for getting a little behind with this column. Will cover 2 weeks with this post.

Senate

The biggest action in the Senate was the debate over S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Aside from setting the “Defense” budget for next year, a provision was added primarily by John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) that would allow the U.S. military to detain American citizens indefinitely for suspected terrorist activities, even if caught on U.S. soil. This measure directly violates Constitutionally protected Due Process for U.S. citizens. So, how did Sens David Vitter and Mary Landrieu vote? Lets start with 3 amendments offered to the bill; the Udall (CO) Amendment 1107, Paul Amendment 1064, and Feinstein Amendment 1126 all sought to limit the bill’s provisions against holding U.S. citizens without trial. Vitter and Landrieu both voted against ALL 3. Naturally, they joined 91 other senators in passing the whole bill on Dec. 1, 2011. I emailed both Senator’s offices about this and only Vitter’s staff responded with a reply completely ignoring the question about U.S. citizens. Major fail for the Constitution on this bill unless Pres. Obama vetoes as he’s threatened to do. I wrote more about this here last week.

One redeeming action by Vitter is the co-introduction of S. 1932. The bill would require the Obama administration to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days, as opposed to Obama’s stated wish to postpone a decision until after the 2012 election.

Randomly, Landrieu apparently feels she knows more about running an airline than the airlines do. Air Mary?

House of Representatives

Remember that box on your federal tax return that asks if you want to donate to federal campaigns? Well, this bill that passed with support from Steve Scalise and opposition from Cedric Richmond would discontinue taxpayer funded presidential election campaigns and party conventions and apply any leftover funds directly to the federal budget deficit. Also, it eliminates the Election Assistance Commission, consolidating its duties into the Federal Election Commission. Here’s hoping for a passage through the Senate.

Also taking expected positions, Scalise votes for, and Richmond against, successful bill HR 527 which analyses the impact of regulations on small businesses and forces alternatives to be studied. Keeping the theme with their votes, HR 3010 passed which would reform the process of analysing and creating new regulations and guidelines.

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?