• Is The U.K. Snap Election A Cautionary Tale For American Conservatives?

    14 JUN. 2024 · Hy and Christopher gaze across the pond to the snap United Kingdom Parliamentary elections and wonder if the divide on the Right could prove a cautionary tale for US conservatives. Currently Nigel Farage’s UK Reform party is poised to pass the ruling Conservatives in the polls—and as a result could deny almost 200 Tories reelection, while only electing five Reform MPs. It provides an interesting “what if” had the US Republicans not embraced Donald Trump. The Tories face electoral oblivion as the vote on the Right is divided. Could the same thing ever have happened in the US? (As we point out, such a scenario did happen in Canada in 1993.) Then, turning to local history, families define a city, so when a document is found in Europe of tremendous historical importance that explains the reason one of those families came to North America (because they aggravated the French king), it is worthy of celebration. Hy and Christopher speak to Pierre Villere, who recently purchased an important diplomatic document from the middle of the 17th century and donated it to the Historic New Orleans Collection. It tells the tale of Leonardo Villere’s departure from the French court while serving as an envoy for the Duke of Milan. It’s an important clue, now also posted online at https://villerefamily.com The website has become a treasure trove of local historical resources, featuring documents and never before posted information covering the founding of New Orleans, the colonial period, the Revolution of 1768, the American Revolution, and the Battle of New Orleans.  Pierre Villere speaks of his work to make this online resource of history available to everyone.
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  • How Louisiana Took Over Washington, D.C. / 80th Anniversary of D-Day

    8 JUN. 2024 · Hy and Christopher are joined by consummate D.C. insider Curtis Robinson, to explore "How Louisiana took over Washington!" With Mike Johnson and Steve Scalise in charge, everyone looks to the Pelican State for the latest power moves on Capitol Hill. Curtis is also the co-host (with Christopher) of Hunter Gatherers, https://www.hunter-gathererspodcast.com/gatherers. We discuss what the author of “Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72” would have thought of the ‘24 campaign, and the incredible parallels. If you'd like to hear more on that topic, https://www.hunter-gathererspodcast.com/more-podcasts We then turn our attention to the D-Day Anniversary and the loss of a great hero of Normandy, sponsored to attend the 80th commemoration by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Robert "Al" Persichitti was 102 years old.  We speak of the legacy of the war and its greatest military leader, Dwight Eisenhower.
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  • Trump's Conviction A Debate Opening For RFK? ESA Expansion Hindered By Lack Of Letter Grades?

    1 JUN. 2024 · Hy and Christopher kick off the show wondering if Donald Trump‘s conviction on 34 counts will boost RFK Jr enough to make the debates. He’s already qualified at 15% in three out of four national polls, and he is about to be listed on enough state ballots to add up to 270 electoral votes. By the old rules, he would be close to qualifying for debate between Trump and Biden.  Examining the Trump verdict, Christopher wonders if Trump had just simply admitted that he had sex with Stormy Daniels, he likely would’ve been acquitted? Hy calls Christopher out on this. After the break, the conversation moves onto the new school voucher bill just passed in Baton Rouge. The devil is in the details in any piece of legislation, and the expansion of the educational savings accounts by the Louisiana Legislature has been put to the discretion of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in Senate Bill 313. As the evaluation system outlined in the bill does not conform to BESE’s letter grade system, the body could plead poverty – and refuse to ever expand the private school scholarship program. By a vote of 67-29, the Louisiana House last week opted not to adapt their own school voucher proposal from earlier in the legislative session, but to adopt the Senate’s proposal for Educational Savings Account implementation. The bill changed two critical elements from the House’s original proposal. Last Tuesday, May 21, legislators rejected Stonewall GOP Rep. Larry Bagley's amendment mandating that private schools who receive ESA money receive letter grades based on students’ test scores (similar to the public-school rating system using the LEAP test), which he said would help hold private schools accountable for student performance. Grading the schools with differing testing methods was considered an unfair comparison with charter and public schools by the legislative majority, yet this decision may not sit well with BESE, who has based its entire rationale for closing failing schools on the letter grade system, earned by competitive examination. That might make BESE reticent to divert public Minimum Foundation Formula funds to expand scholarships for private and parochial school tuition, and it was its “power of the purse” that constituted the second change from the original House legislation. The Senate bill does not set the grant amounts or any timeline to expand its scope beyond the current recipients of vouchers – the poorest students in failing school districts. Rather, SB313 charges BESE to determine how much tuition money to give parents and at what point, if ever, to make higher-income families eligible. “We can implement it faster or slower as needed, as appropriated funds allow,” the House co-author of the bill, GOP Rep. Julie Emerson of Carencro, explained. However, while she undoubtedly meant that the changes enable the Legislature to adjust the program based on available funds, BESE has been rendered the real power in SB313. The state's school board could direct funds however its members wished, and that is the rub.  It could change many of the standards of qualification or not expand the program at all, especially if future budgets do not increase the base funding.  BESE has long maintained a greater skepticism to ESA impact on the overall school funding formula than legislators, after all. The Legislature’s fiscal office said the earlier version of the ESA bill would have cost about $258 million in fall 2027, and as much as $500 million when all families will eventually be eligible for tuition grants. Gov. Landry has pledged to reach that ubiquitous threshold, yet under SB313, his power will be limited.  Short of discovering a vast pool of uncommitted revenue, such as the .45 sales tax expiring next year, the Landry administration may just give BESE the power to kill ESA expansion – at least for the near future.
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  • Graves Endorsed For Unwinnable Seat? Trump Won't Debate RFK Jr.? And: Fly Your Flag!

    25 MAY. 2024 · Hy and Christopher first welcome Republican National Committee Member and former LAGOP Chair Roger Villere, who discusses the party’s endorsement of all of the current Louisiana GOP Congressmen in their current districts. This includes Garrett Graves, who would have to run in a newly redesigned African-American majority seat which voted for Biden with 56% of the vote Graves boasts of over $4 million in his campaign bank account, but will he run for a congressional district that almost no Republican can win? Villere thinks he might, and, as the incumbent, that he could emerge victorious. This weekend also has marked the 2024 Libertarian National Convention, where Robert F Kennedy, Jr. has challenged Donald Trump to debate him. While both are speaking to the assemble delegates, no debate has been accepted. The first presidential debate is scheduled for June 27, but RFK Jr. has not been invited to participate. We discuss with Villere just who is keeping RFK Jr. out of these major debates We also talk about the fact that while a Louisiana Constitutional Convention does not look like it’s happening by this coming August, a special session to “clean up” the state constitution might. Finally, Hy and Christopher talk about honoring Memorial Day with Villere, and about his efforts to provide flowers to the gravesites of veterans. We then welcome retired Alabama state Sen. Hank Erwin who is leading a national campaign to convince Americans to “fly their flags” on the front of their homes on Memorial Day. We also ask about Erwin’s sons, who are the producers of some of the most successful patriotic and religious Hollywood films to grace theaters in years.
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  • Possible Unintended Consequences Of A Constitutional Convention

    17 MAY. 2024 · Hy and Christopher take on the possible unintended consequences of a constitutional convention this coming August. For example: there is a move afoot to get rid of the state income tax. Foster Campbell has a tax-swap idea that the powerful Louisiana Chemical Association would hate! However, an alternative is higher property taxes—which the voters would hate! (More on this below.) Big political donors could give even more under a bill that is sailing through the state Legislature, but will it matter? House 906 by Rep. Mark Wright would raise contribution limits from $5,000 to $12,000 per donor for candidates running for statewide office and in the four biggest parishes, from $2,500 to $6,000 for candidates running for the state Legislature and in smaller parishes and from $1,000 to $2,000 for many local elections.  Due to the fact that SuperPACs can receive, unlimited contributions, Hy and Christopher speculate whether contribution limit should go up even further to $100,000– BUT equally that disclosure requirements should be almost instantaneous and online. The big flaw in the bill is that it retains the current reporting system, which takes weeks until you know who gave what money to whom. President Biden and Donald Trump will meet for two debates on June 27 and Sept. 10, and they went around the Commission on Presidential Debates.  Is that because RFK Jr. might have qualified if the debates were in the fall? Senate Bill 237, sponsored Sen. Thomas Pressly (R-Shreveport), would make it illegal to manufacture or sell products that contain any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Louisiana unless they are licensed medical marijuana products. The measure would wipe out what some consider an established industry in Louisiana.  Is this ban the right move?  Christopher’s father had a better quality of life in his last months before his death on June 25 of last year because of THC, and the effort by the Louisiana legislature to outlaw it negatively affect many medical patients in their final years. To conclude, we wax eloquent on the 40th anniversary of the Louisiana World’s Exposition, yet we posed the question why doesn’t Louisiana stage something that big again? Why has not the United States held a World’s Fair since 1984?  And does Louisiana need to plan for another to reap the tourist benefits for four decades? (New Orleans gained 25,000 hotel rooms and the Warehouse District out of the last one.)  Olympic Committee for New Orleans 2084 anyone? Now, more on that tax swap idea..... Oil Processing - Income Tax Swap? By Christopher Tidmore Unintended consequences of LA constitutional convention could give rise to unorthodox policy ideas Approval of a potential Louisiana constitutional convention appeared logjammed in the LA House and dead-on-arrival in the State Senate until Gov. Jeff Landry relented on his insistence that it convene in May— and instead occur in August.  That concession allowed House Bill 800 to pass the state House with 75 votes, but it also underpinned the unpredictability of what could occur if a convention ultimately is convened. The delegates to the 1974 State constitutional convention far exceeded their original legislative mandate. What Gov. Edwin Edwards first envisioned as a simple “cleanup” of the existing document ended up as a massive rewrite.  That truism that ‘no Governor, however powerful, can control a constitutional convention completely’ could prove equally true this year.  It might even provide a way to eliminate the state income tax in a fashion which would make Gov. Jeff Landry’s allies in the Louisiana Chemical Association howl.  Or at least, that is the populist proposal which LA Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell proposes, tax oil processing in order to end income taxes. The idea underscores the law of unintended consequences if the governor is granted his wish for a constitutional convention.  Landry has argued that the gathering would restrict itself to merely “cleaning-up” the fiscal provisions added by amendment over the last 50 years, which has rendered Articles VII and VIII almost as long as the original document.  The governor has also pledged to protect the $75,000 homestead exemption and the Minimum Foundation Formula for K-12 education. Moreover, by appointing 27 of the 171 delegates to the convention, Landry hopes to maintain an added measure of control.  (The remainder are the members of the state House and Senate.) However, his proposed delegates are former speakers, senior statesmen, and distinguished Louisiana leaders, who might try to establish the legacy of a document that will affect voters for at least another 50 years.  They could easily exceed their original mandate, and the governor would possess no veto power over their work.  The final document would go straight to the voters, and the need for the electorate to pass the document is what Foster Campbell has predicated his proposal. The Democrat from Bossier City announced his “challenge” to the looming convention (and the GOP governor) on Jim Engster’s “Talk Louisiana” radio program as well as issuing a news release to that same effect later in the day. Engster noted Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, another Republican, recently endorsed Campbell’s “Foreign Oil Tax” proposal, which would require changes to the Louisiana Constitution. Under the current state constitution, oil and gas stands only subject to severance taxes, which are levied on natural resources drilled or mined within Louisiana’s borders.   In addition, Campbell suggests the August constitutional convention create a tax on all foreign and offshore oil processed or refined in Louisiana and use the revenue to offset an elimination of the state income tax. “The oil companies damaged our coast,” Campbell explained. “It’s time for them to pay their fair share in taxes.” Campbell is an expert in attracting bipartisan support for populist policies in the regulation of utilities companies, pipelines, and energy infrastructure.  As a Democrat, Campbell won a fourth term on the Public Service Commission in 2020 in a North Louisiana district that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump on the same ballot.  He contends that “Everyone except the petrochemical industry” would support the tax swap and the governor would gain political support as a result. “Gov. Landry can use the revenue to eliminate the state income tax,” he said. “He’ll be remembered forever if he does this.” Well-entrenched oil and gas lobbyists repeatedly have beaten back this proposal in the past, yet Campbell said the timing is ripe for such an idea given Landry’s desire to hold a constitutional convention.  No limits exist for the delegates.  Moreover, since at least a third of the delegates will not face the voters for reelection, and therefore never need the campaign contributions of the lobbyist class, unorthodox proposals which might work well at the ballot box might have a chance. After all, the current proposal being floated—to eliminate the income tax by raising property taxes to make up the revenue difference—hardly enjoys much public support. The processing tax may or may not succeed, yet it is hardly the last revolutionary proposal that the constitutional convention will review— and it will be hard for Landry to stop all of them from making it into the text of the final constitutional draft.
    53m 59s
  • Constitutional Heartache & Graves Resurrected?

    10 MAY. 2024 · Hy and Christopher examine how Gov. Jeff Landry’s potential constitutional convention faces a roadblock in the State Senate. And even if it does pass, in time for an August meeting, what about spending reform?  We have a report from Colorado about their TABOR which is allowing a major property tax cut. So why isn’t the upcoming convention including some form of constitutional restriction on spending as well? We also talk about Mike Johnson’s survival as Speaker, and the (surprisingly ) related issue of the second African-American district in Louisiana not passing legal muster. Will the legislature be able to draw a new Black-majority district in two weeks?  And if they can’t, does that mean Garrett Graves has another shot reelection in his safe GOP seat?  And, ironically, could that victory be the only way that Johnson remains US House Speaker after the November elections? Finally, we broadcast live from the Rocky Mountaineer, the trans-mountain train now traveling regularly from Moab to Denver, and explain how luxury passenger rail service is being reinvented by a private company —just in time for the 250th anniversary of the nation!  Take a look at the train in motion through the snowy Rockies last week https://www.facebook.com/christopher.tidmore.1?mibextid=LQQJ4d
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  • Protests At Tulane, Columbia Universities - 1968 All Over Again?

    4 MAY. 2024 · Hy and Christopher address the recent clearances of pro-Palestinian protesters at Tulane and Columbia universities— and cite the uncanny comparisons to the 1968 Presidential race. Will the upcoming Democratic convention in Chicago have a similar effect as it did 56 years ago? We also talk about how the new NOPD headquarters will now cost over $12 million in rent! Hy and Christopher wonder if it would've been easier and cheaper just to buy the skyscraper at 1615 Poydras as the new City Hall office building. We conclude our discussion speculating whether the new City of St. George in East Baton Rouge Parish will spawn a trend of neighborhoods becoming towns in the New Orleans area. It only takes 5000 people to form a township under the Louisiana state constitution and there’s already a move to form a City of Lakeview in Orleans Parish. Will we see restored cities of Carrollton and Algiers? (After all, Algiers remained a city in Orleans until 1959.) Finally, Hy talks about the St. George himself!
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  • Louisiana's Deteriorating Wetlands

    26 ABR. 2024 · Hy and Christopher examine Louisiana’s deteriorating wetlands, and the major efforts that are being made to restore them. In the last 20 years, 800 acres of land have returned near Mardi Gras pass 1100 acres at Canaveron. There are a literal forest of Cypress trees where there once was just water. The state is about to embark on the multi billion dollar mid-Barataria diversion, to restore thousands of more acres, but the ideas controversial with oyster fishermen, who believed the freshwater and silt will destroy their oyster fields. To explore the desperate need to rebuild our coastline for hurricane protection, Hy and Christopher are joined by Simone Maloz, Campaign Director for Restore the Mississippi River Delta.
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  • Woeful Condition of NOLA Parks, Latest In Israel/Iran Conflict

    19 ABR. 2024 · Hy and Christopher the address the woeful conditions of New Orleans’ parks, and then turn our attention to the Middle East. Israel’s missile strike early Friday morning on Isfahan, Iran was far more measured—and much smaller—than anyone expected. Could it be part of a bigger strategy to untie the IDF’s hands in a coming assault on southern Gaza? But first, we start the show talking about the New “Big Green Easy” Masterplan.  It seeks to address racial & funding inequities in nola’s Park System. New Orleans is blessed with a multitude of green spaces; parks which seem to cover so many parts of the city so often sit neglected. Partly, this results from an accident of history as the city’s green spaces were often acquired by an absence of mind.  Donations of land were made for other purposes and ended up as parks – as no one ever proposed another purpose.  As a result, city leaders never drew up a plan of governance for our park system or how to adequately pay for their maintenance. A new masterplan being proposed to the New Orleans City Council on Monday, April 22, seeks to not only insure that funding remains equitable across the racial fabric of New Orleans, but, as one of the authors of the proposal explained to Hy and Christopher, to actually devote thought to “this green layer of jewels across of our city.” Civic leader Scott Howard and his allies have spent four years devising what they call the “Big Green Easy” masterplan.  As he explains, “The organization that I work with ‘Parks for All,’ has advocated for a better park plan than we've had in the past. We've had other plans, but we've never had a comprehensive plan that really works, in the way that we’ve distributed our resources.” Howard continued to say, “We do have a lot of parks. You know, a national standard that was kind of introduced by the Trust for Public Land is that dwellers of cities be within a 10-minute walking distance of a park, and we actually satisfy that criterion pretty well. I mean, about 80 percent of our population are within such a park. But the question is, how good is the park and how easy is it to get to the park? I mean, really, the two of the primary focuses of the master plan are ‘access’ and ‘accessibility.’ By that I mean, by ‘accessibility,’ how easy is it to get to the park, and then ‘access’ … is getting to a park that’s worth going to! “And you know, what we found is that the distribution of quality assets is inequitable, and it expresses itself in the usage of the parks.  To give you a specific statistic. Blacks form 57 percent of the population, but only 26 percent of park usage is by Blacks, whereas with whites it's the opposite, representing 31 percent of the population but 59 percent of park usage. And I don’t think it’s going out on much of a limb to guess that the reason for that is not because ‘Blacks don't like parks,’ but rather because the parks they’re able to access are not as good. And so the park plan thinks deeply about that – and how to address that inequity.” Some of the answer comes down to money, yet Howard explained that answers exist besides raising taxes. “We're not a rich city, and we have to be smart about how we expend our resources. One of the issues that the plan addresses is whether [the park governance system] is organized sufficiently that we…utilize our resources as effectively as we can. The [Big Green Easy] Report states that we’re the most fragmented park and recreation system in the country. There are fully 16 separate entities that control green space in the city; SIXTEEN! So the plan raises the question. It doesn't try to propose exactly how we go about changing this, but it encourages the administration of the city to undertake a separate analysis of how the Parks and Recreation entities are structured in order to identify perhaps a more streamlined structure, particularly looking at more at [The Department of] Parks and Parkways. So that we could derive some economic efficiencies out of that and use our limited dollars more effectively.” Listen for some of the ideas for reforms, planning, and how to link linear parks like the Lafitte Greenway and extensive green links through the neutral ground system.
    54m
  • Could Landry’s School Voucher Program Require A Renewal Of 45-Cent Sales Tax?

    12 ABR. 2024 · This week on The Founders Show - could Gov. Jeff Landry’s school voucher program require a renewal of a 45-cent sales tax?  And how could the 10 Commandments legislation actually avoid religious establishment complaints because school vouchers exist? Then the discussion moves on to Donald Trump‘s plea to leave abortion to the states. Could his stance make pro-lifers abandon him? And we close with a few words about the 250th anniversary of a great love story of two of The Founders of our nation. Hy and Christopher begin the show discussing how ESAs would provide scholarships to families of four making $75,000. MORE: Monday evenings, early in the Legislative Regular Session, are usually relaxed occasions for conversation and crawfish. On April 8, the tables were set up in the Pentagon Barracks courtyard for just that, mere steps from the Capitol Building. Crawdads, shrimp, vats of lima bean succotash and pastas, strawberry shortcake and extensive libations were waiting by 5 p.m., the time the La. House normally adjourns for the day at that point in the session. Yet, there were no legislators to be found. By the time that they arrived two hours later, looking beat up and exhausted, a contentiously divided La. House had managed to pass HB745, or the Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) Scholarship Program, by a vote of 72-32, but with considerable wounded feelings. Some Democrats called the legislation “vouchers for the rich,” while others like Black Caucus member and New Orleans Rep. Jason Hughes made impassioned speeches on the bill’s behalf. Hughes argued that his life took a far different course due to the full scholarship to Jesuit High School, which opened opportunities for a young Black man and a kid from the inner city might never have otherwise had. The comments led fellow New Orleans Democratic Rep. Mandy Landry to note that the restrictiveness of private school entry policies could close the doors on many applicants from similar backgrounds as Hughes. In contrast, most Republicans and a few Democrats also argued that the “vouchers for the rich” perspective was misleading, noting that the ESAs would direct state funding for school tuition and expenses to families making less than 250 percent of the poverty level, or approximately $75,000 for a family of four. As one put it, it might extend the scholarships into the working middle class, but “nobody thinks a family of four making $75,000 is rich.” It was a point that several legislators repeatedly emphasized – countering press accounts in the daily paper that implied the ESAs were not capped at working-class income levels. In point of fact, the caps discussion led the debate to a discussion of whether the state could afford the scholarship program. Defenders like GOP Rep. Polly Thomas of Metairie noted that the ESAs would remain limited to the current voucher pool in year one. In year two, needs-based ranking would limit growth. By year three, however, the program would expand to its full potential student base – at least 41,000 students – yet legislative appropriators had the discretion to limit the size of the program based on revenue realities. Still, how to pay for that increase if offered to all eligible, estimated by the Legislative Fiscal Office at a cost of $258 million, remained the question for which few legislators had answers. In fact, several legislators privately mused at the crawfish boil afterwards, would other revenue sources be required, including the sales tax set to expire next year?
    53m 59s
A look at Louisiana politics from Chaplain Hy McEnery and Christopher Tidmore
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