Opinion: Rating the representation

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Saturday’s election was less about surprises, and more about the “what now” effects of a few predictable and troubling election outcomes.

Former Louisiana state senator, three-term Louisiana Sixth District Congressman, and now Louisiana Senator-elect, Dr. Bill Cassidy predictably trounced three-term Senator Mary Landrieu.  Cassidy kept his campaign’s focus on President Barak Obama’s shortcomings, but we didn’t hear much about the “Cassidy plan” and how he envisions reversing some of the Obama administration’s most unpopular and costly programs, like the Affordable Care Act.

Cassidy opposes amnesty; he advocates tax relief for small businesses and middle class families to spur economic growth; and he’s served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (and subcommittees) to advance Louisiana’s energy agenda.  His legislative focus in the House largely has focused on health care and energy.   It’s reported that he will take Landrieu’s seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Cassidy’s win counted as the 54th Republican seat in Congress, a clear indication of a majority of voters’ dissatisfaction with Democrat iniatives and legislation.

But through the campaign, Cassidy did not really articulate his legislative agenda and how he would work to better represent the will of Louisianans.  Will he have achieved a powerful enough position to help lead a delegation charged with protecting Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk from cuts that could necessarily result in downsizing the military?

In short, being a Republican shouldn’t be enough reassurance these days.  It would be better to know the Senator-elect’s full agenda, and perhaps even hold him to it.

That also goes for the Shreveport Mayor’s race in which retired Caddo schools Superintendent Ollie Tyler handily overcame a broad field of contenders.

While this wasn’t a Bossier Parish race, what happens in Shreveport can and does impact Bossier.  Working to replace lost economic drivers, building an effective and productive relationship with a fractious Shreveport City Council, and finding the funding to remedy a number of critical infrastructure problems will be an exhausting challenge.

On this side of the river, we’re hoping that Mayor-elect Tyler is up to that challenge and moves forward briskly to a successful term at Shreveport’s helm.  Otherwise the outflow of Shreveporters to become Bossier Parish residents is likely to grow.

Closer to home, the Bossier Parish Police Jury adopted its $51 million 2015 budget in mid- November, along with the parish’s $2.8 million Consolidated Water Works budget.   Jury members agreed to this budget with their noted diligence but little fanfare.

On the other hand, Bossier City’s 2015 General Fund Budget may be adopted by December 16 – if Council members have few or no issues with a December 15 special board meeting to review the findings of Travis Morehart, CPA, who was retained by the Council to audit the budget.  As noted in this space last month, Council members were short on time to thoroughly review the budget, which was presented late by the Mayor’s office.

Morehart’s charge was to identify “any changes of a material nature” from the 2014 budget to the city’s proposed 2015 general fund revenues/expenditures plan and  look at the water and sewer fund as well as debt coverage to ensure revenues are sufficient to cover 2015 expenses and those of the future.

A sticking point for Council members may be an administration recommended 2.5 percent COLA increase for city employees and some public safety employees.  One hopes that Council members will see the wisdom in keeping this increase in the budget – since the budget tightening some years ago, city workers have borne the brunt of that tightening.

It’s time, however, for these workers to see a small increase in their compensation.  There’s no disagreement that government isn’t business – but government ought to operate like business – and that means taking care of its employees when projected revenues permit.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She can be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com