OUR ENDORSEMENTS

What follows are our endorsements in the U.S. Presidential race, the U.S. Senate race, the three contested school board races, our recommendations on the six state constitutional amendments and the New Orleans home rule charter change related to the autonomy of the Independent Police Monitor that also appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

U.S. PRESIDENT HILLARY CLINTON

No, she isn’t perfect; and she, as with any other political leader, can and must be called to answer for her shortcomings, failures and poor decisions. But we are not buying into the lesser of two evils argument. That is the sort of rhetoric that could cause people to sit this election out; and we can’t let that happen. She is not the lesser of two evils. Now that the race has boiled down to Clinton and Trump, Hillary Clinton is the clear and correct answer. Unlike Trump, Clinton actually has strategies to address the domestic and foreign policy issues America faces. Unlike Trump, her campaign has not been built on fear and hate.

U.S. SENATE FOSTER CAMPBELL

While we have supported Caroline Fayard in the past and believe that she is genuine in her quest to serve the people of Louisiana, we meant what we said about education being the issue—so much so that it has guided our endorsement in the race for U.S. Senate. Of the candidates with whom we spoke, Foster Campbell not only has the vast years of experience in several arenas of public service, but his was the strongest voice in support of real public education. He has fought for public education funding and is clear in his discontent with the proliferation of publicly-funded, privately managed charter schools that siphon funds from traditional schools under the pretense of reform and without proven track records of success. His opinion on this issue most mirrored ours; and recognizing that those who continue to fight against this movement that has destroyed public education in New Orleans must have allies at all levels, we urge our readers to vote for Foster Campbell for U.S. Senate.

The Orleans Parish School Board

Education is the issue! And more than that, New Orleans deserves uncompromised, unfettered school board leaders that get their power from and answer to the people who elected them. As we look at the number of people whose voices seem to have been quieted on this issue, elected school board officials willing to stand for what is right even if that means an uphill battle are sorely needed right now. That belief guides our endorsements in the three contested school board races as follows:

District 4
Walter Umrani

Walter Umrani nails it when he says the current unification model must be challenged. We need men and women on the Orleans Parish School Board willing to stand up. His candidacy gives us hope that others will begin to rally and fight on the behalf of public education in New Orleans.

District 6
David Alvarez

David Alvarez will bring a fresh perspective to the District 6 seat. We believe his focus on innovation and results that serve children, parents and community are in line with the direction public education must take in New Orleans. He will be an independent voice for the people of the district.

District 7
Alvin Crusto, Jr. or Kwame Smith

The only drawback in this race is that Alvin Crusto, Jr. and Kwame Smith live in the same district, making our endorsement decision so difficult that we have decided to issue a dual endorsement. In either of these candidates, both of whom are veteran public school teachers with Smith still serving in the classroom, we believe that the people of District 7 and, by extension, the entire city will have a voice on the board that will listen to and speak for the people of this community—not beholden to or financed by special interests.

Constitutional Amendments

CA NO. 1 (ACT 677 – HB 459) – Registrar of Voters
OUR RECOMMENDATION: YES

OUR REASONING: This amendment sets standards of professional and educational experience for local registrars of voters and requires more public disclosure in their hiring process. The requirements are clear, reasonable and valid.

CA NO. 2 (ACT 680 – SB 80) – Establish Tuition without Legislative Approval
OUR RECOMMENDATION: YES

OUR REASONING: This amendment would allow higher education management boards set annual tuition rates and fee amounts for colleges and universities without legislative approval. As state schools face a number of challenges—decreased investment in higher education funding from state government, increased competition or students, competition to recruit and retain quality faculty and more, those who lead those institutions are in a better position to understand and appreciate the school’s fiscal needs than out-of-touch lawmakers.

CA NO. 3 (ACT 31 – HB 31) – Eliminate Deductibility of Federal Income Taxes
OUR RECOMMENDATION: NO

OUR REASONING: This amendment would eliminate the deduction for federal income taxes paid by corporations when calculating state income taxes. It also establishes a flat corporate tax rate of 6.5 percent. And it is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The flat corporate tax rate does not work for the same reason it isn’t fair for individual taxpayers—those at the bottom would pay more than they can afford. It shifts more of the tax burden on small and medium size corporations. For the last time, there is NOTHING wrong with a progressive tax system that asks the very wealthy or most profitable corporations to pay a little more. We suggest that the authors of the bill that spurred this amendment go back to the drawing board on this one and stop trying to run roughshod over the people of Louisiana.

CA NO. 4 (ACT 678 – HB 505) – Homestead Exemption-Surviving Spouse
OUR RECOMMENDATION: YES

OUR REASONING: This amendment would enable unmarried surviving spouses of a person who died while on active duty as a member of the U.S. military, Louisiana National Guard, or while performing duties as a state police officer, local police officer or firefighter to apply for an exemption from property taxes for the total assessed value of their homestead. It should have minimal impact on local revenue.

CA NO. 5 (ACT 679 – HB 603) – Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund
OUR RECOMMENDATION: NO

OUR REASONING: This amendment would create the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to receive a portion of revenues from corporate and mineral taxes to be used on infrastructure and pension liabilities. If the amendment passes, corporate and mineral tax revenue above a certain threshold would be funneled into the Revenue Stabilization Fund for specific use. Creating another fund with a narrowly dedicated use does not address the need for more flexibility in determining funding priorities.

CA NO. 6 (ACT 681 – SB 201) – Use Funds to Eliminate Projected Deficits
OUR RECOMMENDATION: NO

OUR REASONING: This amendment is another legislative Trojan horse. While it lowers the threshold that must be triggered before legislators can use constitutionally protected funds during revenue downturns, it also extends protection to five existing funds, shielding even more pots of money from discretionary cuts to the increased detriment of other unprotected budgetary needs. Also, this amendment would become a crutch for a state legislature that needs to get serious about sustainable, comprehensive budget reform as opposed to short-term solutions for a long-standing, far-reaching problem.

PW HRC Amendment – Secs. 9-401, 9-402, 9-403, 9-404, 9-405 – CC
OUR RECOMMENDATION: YES

OUR REASONING: This proposition amends sections of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans relative to the financial and operational independence of the Office of Inspector General, Office of independent Police Monitor, and Ethics Review Board. It allocates funding among the three entities and establishes each as financially and operationally independent. Oddly enough, there has been little discussion surrounding this ballot issue. We fear that this has been intentional, so that it flies under the radar of most voters. A “no” vote could place the continued autonomy of the Independent Police Monitor in jeopardy. That office’s role is too important to the people of New Orleans who have come to rely on it to review cases involving allegations of police misconduct or use of excessive force. This proposition is on the ballot for two reasons. First, the Independent Police Monitor needs autonomy and dedicated funding to perform the job that the people of Orleans Parish decided they wanted done when they approved the duties and power of the police monitor in a charter amendment vote nearly 10 years ago. Second, it has been proven impossible for the independent police monitor to properly serve the people of Orleans Parish under the OIG’s control. This proposition makes official the separation that has already taken place between the OIG and the Independent Police Monitor. To solidify this change, the voters’ approval is required. VOTE YES!

Editor’s Note: Because The New Orleans Tribune, in conjunction with WBOK 1230 AM, is hosting a series of debates throughout October in the Orleans Parish School Board, Criminal District Court (Section D), Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. House of Representatives-Second Congressional District races, we are reserving our endorsements in most of those races to maintain objectivity as a convener of these debates.

Endorsements for the school board races have been included because the school board debate was held prior to the issue going to press. For the other races, The New Orleans Tribune will release its endorsement via our digital platforms, including www.theneworleanstribune, our e-newsletter right on time! and through social media, including Facebook and Twitter after each debate has been held. We also encourage our readers and followers to read the profiles on candidates in the above-mentioned races that appear in this issue of The New Orleans Tribune. You can also check out our live interviews with these candidates on Facebook @theneworleanstribune. And as always, we urge you to conduct your own research on the candidates, their track records and/or platforms so that you can make an informed decision aligned with your needs and interests.

 

The New Orleans Tribune

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