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Public Service Commission meets in Bossier City for first time

The Louisiana Public Service Commission met in Bossier City for the first time in its 100-year history on Wednesday, May 7.

The meeting was held at 9 a.m. in the Bossier City Council Chambers, according to District 5 Commissioner Foster Campbell, the host for the meeting.

The Public Service Commission, which consists of five members, sets utility rates for Louisiana consumers and determines how those services are delivered to customers each month.

Campbell, when he campaigned for the office in 2002, promised to open the agency to more public involvement. One of his campaign pledges was holding Commission meetings around the state.

He succeeded in convincing the Commission to do so. Campbell notes the PSC has met in Shreveport, Ruston, West Monroe, Vidalia, Winnfield, Many, and Natchitoches in his PSC district.

Other commissioners have hosted meetings in Alexandria, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Houma, New Orleans, Covington, and Mandeville.

“Another thing I promised to do if elected was to regularly visit all the parishes in my 24-parish district to hold town meetings and hear from local residents. Since becoming your commissioner, I have held more than 150 such meetings ,” Campbell noted.

He added, “These town meetings are crucial to my own understanding of what goes on in north Louisiana. I could not adequately serve the needs of nearly one million residents in 24 parishes if I never left Shreveport-Bossier City.”

Faith-Based Event is Thursday

The 2014 Faith-Based and Grass Roots Community Sixth Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon and Workshops is Thursday, May 8, at the Downtown Shreveport Hotel, 102 Lake Street.

A Meet and Greet will be held from 11:15 to 11:55 a.m. preceding the luncheon.

It’s a networking opportunity for government officials, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, business and social service representatives, and north Louisiana law enforcement officers who are involved in crime prevention at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Meet and Greet is open to the public, however, tickets are required to attend the luncheon where Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is guest speaker.

For more information, call 965-3793 or e-mail lrclemons@aol.com.

Another Jindal mess

`“This is another fine mess you got us into.” That’s what several politicos are saying about Gov. Bobby Jindal over the news that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has refused to sign off on the administration’s plans to privatize LSU hospitals in New Orleans, Shreveport, Monroe, Houma, Lake Charles, and Lafayette.

The rejection of Jindal’s hospital privatization plan leaves a $300 million hole in the state’s 2015 budget and and immediate $70 million shortfall for higher education funding.

Apparently, the CMS didn’t buy Jindal’s attempt to use federal dollars to attract more federal matching dollars to finance his privatization plan. The governor, however, plowed ahead with his plan, refusing to wait for federal approval.

Predictably, Jindal said, “CMS has no legal basis for this decision,” and added that he plans to appeal. If unsuccessful, he could take the issue to court, where he has not had much success with other plans he has produced as governor.

A resounding NO!

It’s unlikely a third time would be the charm for the Caddo Commission in its attempt to renew a 1.75 mills property tax to finance a $23 million bond issue.

The proposition went down to defeat by a 77-23% margin on Saturday after narrowly being rejected in an October 2013 election.

Incredibly, only 5.6% of the parish’s 165,688 registered voters bothered to vote on this important measure.

While the Commission is the only governmental entity in the state with a AAA bond rating and one of a few among parishes/counties in the nation, the talk among politicos before the election was about the high salaries the commissioners have voted themselves, the amount of money in the reserve fund, and the Elio deal.

Others were not happy that the Commission put the measure on the May 3 ballot rather than on the ballot in November when many more voters will go to the polls.

Now, the Commission will have to dip into that reserve fund to pay for the upkeep of parish roads, bridges, buildings, and other parish properties.

Interesting election in Winnfield

The election for mayor of Winnfield, the home of Huey and Earl Long and other political notables and the site of the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame Museum, got little notice outside of the city.

But it was an intense situation for Winnfield residents in a city where 54% of registered voters are black, however, a black has never been elected mayor.

In a weird twist, the black candidates lost in the primary, leaving a white candidate, Republican Kiah Beville, against a Muslim candidate, Raza Ali Mughal, No Party.

It was a nail-biter of an election. Beville eked out a win by a 51-49% margin. The vote was 1.049 for Beville and 1,004 for Ali Mughal – a winning margin of 45 votes. The voter turnout was 62.4%.

Four years ago, the white candidate for mayor defeated the black candidate by 29 votes.

GOP Open Forum

The Caddo Republican Party is having an Open Forum on Tuesday, May 6, at 11:45 a.m. at the Clarion Hotel, 1419 E. 70th Street.

Attendees will be able to ask questions and share their thoughts with the Executive Committee.

The purpose is for party members to have clear objectives, and a clear message, which reflects the party’s passion and why Republicans believe in what they do.

Buffet meal is $13. Parking is free, and reservations are not required.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter