Editorial Roundup: Louisiana

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

___

Jan. 14

The Houma Courier on LSU's victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship over Clemson University:

LSU’s football team deserves all of the accolades it has received in a perfect season it capped Monday night by winning the team’s first national championship in 12 years.

Quarterback Joe Burrow’s Heisman Trophy. Numerous Coach of the Year honors for head coach Ed Orgeron. Records broken by the team and many of its players.

But one of the most inspirational stories is the success Coach O, as he is affectionately known here in the community where he was born and raised, has achieved.

His road from Larose in south Lafourche to the pinnacle of college football hasn’t always been easy or even admirable. He has made no bones about that. His shenanigans off the field almost got him kicked off his college football team at Northwestern State in Natchitoches. A bar fight in Baton Rouge cost him an assistant coaching job at Miami of Florida, though the man he was accused of head-butting later had the charges dropped. He went through a series of assistant and head coaching jobs that never quite worked out as successfully as he had hoped.

Along the way, Orgeron honed an ability, through hard work and sacrifice, to learn from his mistakes. He told USA Today in a story this week that he realized he needed to change. He quit drinking and in 1997 married his wife, Kelly, settling down with their three sons while recommitting himself to his passion -- coaching.

“He’s shown how people can change their lives,” Bryan Arceneaux, a former college teammate and fellow south Lafourche native, is quoted as saying. “And he pulled the state together like no one’s ever done.”

Orgeron wanted to do better. And now, he -- and his LSU Tigers -- are the best in college football.

But his story goes beyond football. It is a story many of us, including those who aren’t interested in sports, can relate to. It is one that gives a lot of people around here the feeling he is one of us. It is a story of how a boy from the oilfield and fishing community of south Lafourche can overcome obstacles -- some of his own making --- to become a champion. It is a story of an admittedly imperfect man seeking perfection for his team -- and achieving it. It is a story of never giving up. It is a story of redemption.

As the game neared, Orgeron would tell almost anyone who would listen he was doing it for all of us -- for the team, for LSU, for Louisiana. Well, he has done it -- leading the Tigers to the top of the heap. And, in the process, Coach O has earned the gratitude of an entire state.

Online: https://www.houmatoday.com/

___

Jan. 12

The Advocate on Gov. John Bel Edwards' future plans:

The late President George H.W. Bush was probably not the most eloquent man ever in the Oval Office, but he left us a phrase much mocked during his day, one that reflected his disdain for political rhetoric.

“The vision thing,” he said dismissively when critics didn’t like his prudent and conservative approach to government.

In politics, the phrase stuck.

A generation later, Louisiana’s governor enters a second term with some specific plans that he talked about in the 2019 election, including more money for education and for roads and bridges.

But where’s the vision thing?

John Bel Edwards is from a family steeped in public service. He worked hard for eight years in opposition to the harsh cuts in state spending in the Legislature under former Gov. Bobby Jindal, then righted the ship in the last four years against what we considered an often unreasonable opposition from the House GOP leadership.

As he takes his gubernatorial oath of office on Monday (Jan. 13), the governor needs to give his state and the overwhelmingly Republican Legislature before him a dose of the vision thing.

Edwards may speak Monday about specific proposals, although typically governors wait to deliver laundry lists of legislation until the opening of a new lawmaking session. The Legislature convenes March 9, when we shall hear from Edwards again.

Monday’s national championship football game for our LSU Tigers is another inaugural distraction, not least for the governor, who once quarterbacked Amite High’s football team back in the day.

But quarterbacks are expected to be team leaders. There is more to that than gaining yardage on specific plays. Louisiana has suffered for decades, not just in recent memory, from an over-reliance on extraction industries and a failure to educate new generations as well as our peers. There's a lot that the governor can choose to address.

Is there an overarching goal for the second term of the John Bel Edwards administration?

We know that government — what Edwards does — is more detail than high-flown phrases. That is why President Bush did not like to hear about the vision thing.

But when one is in a political minority, as Edwards is as a Democratic governor in the Deep South, it will help him to sketch out for all to hear the vision thing for the coming four years.

Four years is a long time. There are a significant number of new legislators who might be of a different political party but who represent an infusion of fresh blood in the 2020 Legislature.

We congratulate the governor on entering his second term. For the good of the state, we want him to make the best of the next four years. Tell us, governor, where we are headed.

Online: https://www.theadvocate.com/

___

Jan. 12

The American Press on what to do with unclaimed property:

A controversy over exactly who has control over the state's unclaimed property dollars has been ongoing for some time now. That is money from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments and utility deposits.

Governors and legislators have used some of those unclaimed funds for years, but state Treasurer John Schroder said he and his office's attorneys don't believe the law permits those transfers. Schroder has refused for the last two years to release the money.

The state has spent about $25 million to $50 million from the unclaimed property account for years to pay for road construction and other projects.

Jay Dardenne, state commissioner of administration and Gov. John Bel Edwards budget chief, said not everyone is going to claim those funds at the same time. New dollars pour into the unclaimed funds each year to cover payouts even as money comes out, Dardenne said.

Schroder said his officer installed technology upgrades that make it easier to hand out the money to people and he wants to hire more staffers to run the fund.

Dardenne said, "Clearly, he's wanting to fund that with this money that he was not entitled to. The law is clear that all the money has to go into the fund to pay our bonded indebtedness."

Edwards said, "I don't believe the treasurer has the right to not follow through on an appropriation that has been made by the Legislature. But that's something we're going to be talking about and taking a look at."

The Advocate said a decision on whether to file suit would be made after the holidays. Schroder has other plans. He wants to reintroduce legislation that failed last year. It creates a program where unclaimed property would be invested in a fund and the profits could be borrowed by local governments to pay for badly needed infrastructure improvements.

The legislation passed the House 78-17, but died in the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans have stronger control in the new Senate, and Schroder's bill would probably be more successful.

Everyone involved on both sides of this controversy appears to agree the unclaimed money needs to be returned to its rightful owners. The issue is over what to do with that part of the fund that remains unclaimed.

Schroder said he is willing to go to court to protect the money. Edwards said his administration would have more information on that to come.

This issue has dragged on long enough. Take it to court and get a decision.

Online: https://www.americanpress.com/