Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
For as far back as I can remember, comparisons have been made between Louisiana’s state capital city and Austin, Texas. In the 1960s the population of both cities was about the same. Austin and Baton Rouge were the homes of both the centers of state government and the location of each state’s major university. Both cities were laid back and growing at an average southern pace. So how do they rate today?
Austin has become one of the fastest growing cities in America. The University of Texas is ranked as one of the top public universities in the nation with an endowment that rivals number one Harvard. US News and World Report just released their national rankings as the best place in American to live. Their number one ranking? Austin, Texas. And the icing on the cake came in the recent announcement that Apple will invest over one billion dollars on a new high-tech campus. Apple will create in Austin 5000 new jobs that will increase to 15,000 employees with an average salary of $150,000. The Texas hub was also just named as on one of the top five places to retire in the U.S.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I always do. A New Year always brings with it promise and uncertainty, but this coming year brings with it a greater foreboding than we have experienced in the past. The Chinese have a saying: “May you live in interesting times.” But their definition means dangerous or turbulent. We in Louisiana and throughout America certainly live in “interesting” times today.
Most of us have been swept up in the momentum of the holiday season. We have passed Thanksgiving, reached the Christmas milestone and are approaching New Year’s Day, the third in the trilogy of holidays.
Sure, there is a lot of our attention on holiday shopping, football, and social events. But it is also a time to reflect of what the three holidays can mean to all of us. A second chance, and maybe even a new beginning.
A headline in several regional newspapers caught my eye. “Homeowners Insurance Rate Increases Have Slowed,” said one front page banner. I guess that’s supposed to be good news. But in my home state of Louisiana, rates have skyrocketed since 2005 — by an astounding 50%. No other state in the country has experienced such dramatic increases. And we continue to read that it’s all the fault of Katrina. There have been only a few major weather-related losses in recent years, but the rates continue to go up. There must be something rotten in Denmark. Hmmm – make that Louisiana.
Did you see the Garth Brooks televised concert at Notre Dame Stadium last week? Over 85,000 country music fans packed the South Bend football field for one of the largest concerts ever viewed. And the crowd’s biggest response, hands down, was when Brooks roamed the huge stage singing: “I spent last night in the arms of a girl in Louisiana.” It was his signature song titled Callin’ Baton Rouge. The crowd went nuts.
Have you heard the cries that Louisiana is unable to take care of its problems, and should be treated differently than other states? Some even say, OK, then — make it a protectorate of the federal government. And you know what? Maybe that isn’t too bad of an idea.
The proposal took legs recently when Froma Harrop, a nationally syndicated columnist broached the idea in print. “Louisiana has had more than its share of tragedies in recent years, and some, such as hurricane Katrina, could be deemed an act of nature. But whatever the cause, every calamity that befalls Louisiana is made worse by a corrupt civic nature. A protectorate could provide the structure of government people need.”
A ho-hum election day. That’s what Louisiana voters experienced a few weeks back. Now a runoff election is scheduled for December 8th with just a few choices for voters on the ballot. At the top of the ticket is the race to fill the void left by former Secretary of state Tom Scheduler who resigned from office under a cloud. And many political pundits and reporters were surprised over the first primary results.
The President has made illegal immigrants who have moved in to what are called “sanctuary cities a major issue in recent months, even signing an executive order cutting off funds to municipalities that ignore federal law. The Crescent City is in the forefront of ignoring federal law and protecting those there illegally.
This past Tuesday’s election stirred mediocre interest here in the Bayou State. This was the fifth election in Louisiana in 2018. And get ready for six election dates in 2019. There was a 45% turnout last week, even though voters witnessed a great deal of election hype from throughout the nation. Louisianans just were not all that enthused.
The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead last week was, for good reason, called “the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.” It was a ghastly crime of appalling proportions. Robert Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of hate crimes. If he is convicted, as he most assuredly will be, then the death penalty would, and should, be fully justified.