Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Many things happening Thursday

Orleans Public Defender Derwyn Bunton will speak at The Lens's Breakfast with the Newsmakers event at 8 am.  We mentioned this already but it should be good. Stop by if you can.

HOLY CRAP, it's already city budget day
Landrieu will present his 2016 operating budget to the City Council on Thursday.

Though his fiscal priorities, and the actual 2016 operating budget figures, won’t be released publicly until then, some of what to expect can be gleaned from resident gripes, collected by the Landrieu administration in a round of community budget meetings this summer.

That’s because under Landrieu’s “budgeting for outcomes” process, the city says it aims to design budgets with residents in mind, with a stated goal of getting the biggest return on investment of public dollars.
Yeah, not really, though. As we've discussed at length in previous years, those Budgeting for Outcomes meetings contribute more of a political sideshow than they do anything of substance to the budget.  Not that we don't enjoy the meetings. They are always good fun. Although next year, maybe they should spring for refreshments.

Because, hey check it out, we're rich.
All that said, New Orleans’ 2016 budget is poised for some growth, due to booming sales tax receipts and other collections. City officials forecast $30 million in additional money in 2016 at a Revenue Estimating Conference meeting last month.

And the city is likely to end 2015 on a strong financial note. Though the administration budgeted $536.8 million in general fund revenue this year, the city brought in $60 million more than planned. That was largely due to the BP settlement, increased tax collections and the auction of many tax-delinquent properties.

Also at that meeting, city officials said they were working to build up a reserve fund that could be tapped into in case of a natural disaster or other emergency. Bond-rating agencies suggest that should amount to about $60 million. The city’s reserve, as of Sept. 28, stood at about $25 million, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin has said.
Don't get too excited. We're still probably not paying the firefighters.  Or the Public Defender for that matter.  Mostly they're going to tightening up in order to pay for police and prison consent decree stipulations. You'd think the Public Defender's Office would figure into that but the mayor doesn't seem to see it that way.  Also, of course, they've gotta make sure the tourists all "feel safe" first.

Let's see.. what else.. oh here is another Governors Show Thurday night. This is only the second televised debate to feature all four of the major candidates. Three of them met Wednesday night in Lafayette for what is probably the most substantive debate yet. (You can get a lot of constructive things done while David Vitter is out of the room.) Stephanie Grace picks out probably the most significant policy distinction expressed during the evening.
A question on Medicaid expansion drew out a key difference between how the three men who attended would proceed.

Edwards said he'd tap into the money immediately, and brushed of his Republican opponents' insistence on market-oriented reforms. Gov. Bobby Jindal already instituted such measures, he argued, when he introduced the Bayou Health managed care program (of course, Jindal has refused to consider expanding Medicaid despite his own reforms).

Dardenne said he'd apply for a conditional waiver to access the money quickly, then proceed with reforms. The timing is key because of the state's budget shortfall, and also because private hospitals are set to pick up the local match if an agreement is reached by April 1.

Angelle said he'd seek a waiver to develop a Louisiana-specific program before accepting the expansion. He insisted that, against all odds, the state and the federal government would work things out in a few months, not a year or two.
Another point of interest occurred when John Bel Gomer Edwards indicated he might support lifting the $180 million cap on the exceedingly wasteful "Hollywood South" tax credit program. Here (via the Advocate) is a Variety article  suggesting the cap still hasn't hurt the state's ability to bring in big budget productions.. for whatever that might be worth.

Beyond that, the three candidates mostly divided their time discussing budget priorities and taking shots at the hated Bobby Jindal as well as the absent and equally hated Vitter. Interestingly, though, neither Angelle nor Dardenne indicated he might endorse Edwards in the likely event that he faces Vitter in the runoff. Yet another poll released this afternoon shows not only that but also gives Edwards  a 52% - 33%  advantage on Vitter in that hypothetical runoff. So, congratulations, Governor Edwards, right?

Well.. we'll see about that. Vitty will be back on the stage Thursday night.  The ground rules are a little strange, though.
The televised gubernatorial debate being hosted by Louisiana Tech University and KTBS-TV in Ruston on Oct. 15 will have some unusual features that will keep media and the public out of the same room of candidates.

The restrictions include shooting the debate without an audience present, even though the debate is being held inside the Davison Athletics Complex, a facility that's designed to handle large crowds. And despite the debate being held in what's described as a "banquet-type room," most of the media covering the debate will be sequestered in a second-floor room where candidates can choose to appear after the debate for interviews and reaction.

The debate will consist of a panel of members of the media, but no other media is allowed in the room. The debate rules describe the room as "controlled atmosphere = no public, media in room except for panel."
Afterward, the candidates will remain in the sealed environment where they will participate in the faking the next moon landing.  

But there may not be any time to deal with that since it's Falcons Week! (Yay?) Hey.. wait where are you going?  Look, I don't care what anybody says. Rob Ryan is still pretty great.
Asked if the defense was on the verge of turning things around, he replied, "I know we're on the verge of breaking through."

Evidence of that confidence is difficult to find, especially after the Saints gave up 519 yards in a 39-17 loss on Sunday at Philadelphia.

After Sunday, the Saints have allowed 409 yards per game, 32nd of 32 teams in the NFL.
"Stats don't mean anything to us," Ryan said. "I know what it looks like."

Even so, Ryan was insistent that progress is near: "You can feel it. (A breakthrough) is coming. I know it is. Just keep blaming me. Keep blaming me and that will be great."
That's right screw your fancy stats and maths. We're just gonna run on out there and #GetWeird and sooner or later the "breakthrough" is gonna happen.  It's a real shame that Ryan's tenure in New Orleans has been so rough after that great 2013.  Everyone is happier when that guy is.

Anyway, I'd love to tell you the Saints are going to win tomorrow since, frankly, that's the only thing that could save this tire fire of a season at this point. But it looks like they're going to be missing two starters from their terrible offensive line again so I wouldn't get my hopes up.  

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