Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:


Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

May 24

The Times Picayune, New Orleans, on emergency disaster loan forgiveness:

Officials in parishes across metro New Orleans and other parts of South Louisiana are seeking a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and FEMA to discuss forgiveness of emergency disaster loans made after the 2005 hurricanes.

That's a fair request, and the vice president should intercede on the parishes' behalf.

During a visit to New Orleans in January 2010, Biden promised local officials that the federal government would forgive repayment of the loans. And he delivered that promise in unequivocal terms. ...

About 52 parishes, school systems, hospital districts and other public entities in the disaster area applied. So far 23 have had their loans canceled in part or entirely, including $240 million that FEMA forgave to the city of New Orleans. Local residents are grateful for that aid.

But 29 other governmental entities, many of them struggling with serious recovery issues to this date, have been told their loans won't be forgiven. ...

This type of disaster aid had never required repayment in previous catastrophes - Congress included that mean-spirited demand when it provided the aid in 2005.

When Biden announced the loan forgiveness in New Orleans last year, the White House said it would be "new procedures" for local governments "to apply for loan forgiveness" and that qualifying entities would have to demonstrate three years of operating losses after the storms.

But Sen. Mary Landrieu has correctly pointed out that FEMA's deficit calculation includes all types of revenues but "cherry-picks the types of expenses that may be included." She called it "inherently unsound," and that's right.

Louisiana is counting on Biden and President Barack Obama to fix it.

Online:

http://www.nola.com

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May 24

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on a brainpower-based state economy:

An economy based on brainpower rather than brawn is absolutely critical to Louisiana's future.

In Louisiana, we have lagged the South and the nation as high-tech jobs have flowed to states that invested heavily and steadily in universities as economic engines. Too many of our resources, financial and political, have been paid out to corporate hustlers instead of focusing on building first-class colleges and schools.

There are some positive signs.

Art Cooper, who heads the Emerging Technologies Laboratory at LSU, recently gave an upbeat report about the efforts of the state's chief research university to expand its contributions to the state's economic future.

His "wet lab" is one of three built during the administration of Gov. Mike Foster and now filled with nascent companies in life-sciences fields. Its efforts are being supplemented with other universities and growing interaction with an emerging technology sector - EA Sports at LSU, the computer-game company, is well-known, he noted.

He said LSU is shedding a reputation - part legitimate, because of inexperience with the issues, and part "urban legend" - as being difficult to do business with on patents and intellectual property. "The issues you hear about at LSU are not at all unique to LSU," Cooper said, and "great strides" have been made in making the process easier for companies and professors interested in commercializing their ideas.

The LSU Agricultural Center is the star in the system for generating licensing revenue for the university, because of Agricultural Center scientists' innovations in rice and other crops. But there is growing potential in other areas of research, he told the City Club as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series.

Cooper cautioned that the lessons of more successful states include an emphasis on patience. The Research Triangle Park in North Carolina took decades to take off, although it is now the poster child for research-based economic progress. ...

Still, if it's a slower process, it's one that has paid off big, from Austin in Texas to Raleigh in North Carolina.

Maybe we ought to start putting big bucks into our colleges and related efforts to grow our own jobs, instead of bidding with other states for industrial plant locations.

Online:

http://www.2theadvocate.com

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May 20

The News-Star, Monroe, La., on replacing the state education superintendent:

It strikes us as odd, to say the least, that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has gotten involved in the politicking to replace former state education Superintendent Paul Pastorek.

Duncan has called some members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to lobby for the appointment of John White, who has just come to the state from New York to head New Orleans' Recovery School District. White, 35, would be asked to lead the state education department and the RSD simultaneously.

Duncan's lobbying has raised the ire of the Louisiana Association of Educators. LAE President Joyce Haynes called Duncan's involvement "another example of political bullying," and said in a press release: "Gov. Jindal continues to put undue pressure on BESE members in an attempt to force them to change their opinion and support Mr. White for the interim state superintendent and this needs to stop."

The appointment requires eight of 11 votes from BESE members, and the interim will only serve until January, when new BESE members are seated. BESE will then have to decide whether to continue the appointment or conduct a new search for a state superintendent.

While Gov. Bobby Jindal has indicated White to be his choice, the governor's staff also has interviewed Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Bob Webber as a candidate for the post. That consideration gives us pause to think Webber could be considered as an alternative choice.

We don't have an opinion on White's qualifications to hold dual offices in two cities, but we do believe the RSD deserves full-time leadership and White's undivided attention, particularly with the substantial investment of taxpayer dollars that has been made into turning that district around. That job is far from done. ...

BESE should consider all possibilities for state's top education post. ...

Online:

http://www.thenewsstar.com