Sunday, March 20, 2016

State's rights vs City's rights

The City of New Orleans's legislative agenda for this session is all about who is a allowed to do what with whose permission. There's a bill that says motorists won't necessarily  have to call police to investigate every single traffic accident anymore. There's another slightly worrisome one that will allow civillains to work police barricades in the CBD during special events.  But since we're already experimenting with fake police doing actual police patrols downtown, that does seem kind of mild.

Other bills have to do with what the city itself is allowed to do on its own. The most important of these have to do with whether or not it can set its own minimum wage. Current state law does not permit municipal minimum wage laws. Another bill seeks to interfere with the city’s "sanctuary city" policing policy on immigration status.

There are other less serious but still significant checks on local governance proposed. One might halt municipal attempts at removing Confederate monuments. Another would prevent local laws banning plastic shopping bags. The article quotes Sen. Conrad Appel who suggests the state needs to step in cases where local government has gone, "beyond the pale."

Which is strange because Appel also has a bill pending that would in certain cases set a city's elected officials practically above the law.
The acrimony of the legal battle over back pay hangs over a separate bill, however. As the fight reached its climax last year, Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese said the decades-old lawsuit firefighters were pursuing against the city had gone on long enough. He held the city in contempt and ordered that Landrieu be placed under house arrest on weekends if payments didn’t start.

Landrieu never ended up in house confinement due to a last-second stay from the state Supreme Court. And this year, state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, has filed a measure that would prevent a state court from punishing public officials for failing to appropriate money for such claims.

Louis Robein, an attorney for the firefighters, argued that would take away a tool that could be used to force the city to pay off legal judgments it owes, something state courts cannot do otherwise.

“The way this is structured, these types of judgments would essentially not be enforceable through the power of contempt,” Robein said.
Apparently unaccountably dealing in bad faith with retirees over a period of decades is not "beyond the pale." Once they come after our plastic bags, though, something has to be done.

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