Saturday, November 16, 2013

Elections today

I get the feeling the idea behind this round of judicial elections was to first see how low we could possibly get voter turnout to go in the primary, and then try to break that record. But I recommend getting out to vote anyway.  We peons have so little power in this pseudo-democracy as it is, the least we can do is show up at the polls periodically just for the sake of being cranky.

Here's the full slate of stuff on the various ballots via NOLA.com.

In Orleans Parish, you're looking at two yawners of run-offs. One is for Magistrate Judge (the guy who sets your bail bond whenever Serpas hauls you in at a traffic checkpoint or random stop-and-frisk).  The candidates are attorney Mark Vicknair and Councilwoman Cantrell's father-in-law.

The other is for a Traffic Court seat which may not even exist anymore after the next legislative session.
Steven Jupiter and Clint Smith, both campaign newcomers, outlasted six opponents Oct. 19 to force a runoff. Jupiter had a slight lead by winning 23 percent of the vote to Smith's 17 percent, but their rematch will take place on a whole new landscape.

After all, "60 percent of the voters didn't vote for me or Clint," Jupiter said.

Alongside a runoff for magistrate judge in Criminal District Court, the Traffic Court special election sharpens focus on a growing concern over what some officials have called Orleans Parish's bloated judiciary. Mayor Mitch Landrieu this spring failed to convince the Legislature to remove two judgeships from the Juvenile Court's six-member bench, even as he builds a new courthouse with only four courtrooms. And a government watchdog group, the Bureau of Governmental Research, reported that the Judicial Council's own formula for determining a judgeship's efficacy showed New Orleans could do without 25 of its judges.
This seat is regarded as a plum because it allows the judge to collect a six figure salary for "part time" work while continuing to maintain a private law practice.   Regardless of what you may think of that, both of these candidates have some comforting words for voters.
Each candidate says the job of a judge extends out of the courtroom and into the community, and each says he will do whatever he can to educate residents about the law and the dangers and headaches of breaking it.

Both promise to treat each defendant before them with fairness and consideration. Both said the punishment should fit the crime, and that judges should be mindful of financial constraints and the difficulty of skipping work to deal with minor traffic infractions.

Jupiter calls the court’s current practices a “money grab,” with excessive fees, a cattle-call-like system, and little record of where money ends up.

He promises to bring the court into the 21st century, with automated notifications, online ticket payment and video conferencing for witnesses who can’t appear in court.

Smith said he believes the current process for reviewing widely loathed traffic-camera tickets is unfair, and he promises to see what can be done to ensure scofflaws are given a fair shake.
Meanwhile there are a couple of ballot initiatives regarding parcel fees for, among other dubious purposes, empowering Eastover and some part of Uptown calling itself "Twinbrook" to keep paying their private police patrols.  A year ago, WWLTV produced an excellent report on the security district balkanization of New Orleans.  I added some dumb comments at the time. This seems like a good time to review that.

For those of you who do this at the last minute, the Louisiana Secretary of State's website makes it pretty easy to find your polling location. LSU isn't playing today (and their season is over anyway.) So you might as well get out and participate in something sporting this afternoon.  Why not go vote? 

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