It is always difficult for Louisiana to lose a corporate headquarters, but it is even more difficult when it involves a homegrown business. Recently, Smoothie King, a company started in Kenner, Louisiana announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters to Irving, Texas, in the Dallas metropolitan area.

Since the oil downturn in the late 1980’s, there has been a steady stream of energy companies moving their headquarters from Louisiana to Texas, usually Houston. This move offered the oil companies a chance to consolidate their operations and save plenty of costs, while trimming their payrolls. Many local residents faced the decision of leaving the state or losing their jobs.

In many ways, the business environment of the New Orleans area never recovered. This is why the news of Smoothie King leaving Louisiana brings back painful, yet familiar, memories. In this case, the expiration of a $2.4 million economic development package certainly played a role in the decision. Also, air travel is easier from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport with more nonstop international flights. Another big factor is the tax environment in Texas is very pro-business. The state has no income taxes, while Louisiana not only has an income tax; it also has the highest sales taxes in the country.

According to Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim, the Dallas area offers “a more centralized location, a larger talent pool to further enhance our growing team, and access to a greater number of quality vendors and suppliers.” There were no financial incentives offered to Smoothie King to encourage their move to Texas, but, Kim noted that “Dallas offers the advantages of being a major food and beverage hub.” Several competitors of Smoothie King, including Smoothie Factory and Jamba Juice, also call Dallas home.

After the move this summer, Smoothie King will continue with a smaller office in Metairie and will keep the naming rights on the basketball arena, the home of the New Orleans Pelicans. It is ironic that the arena will be named after a company that will be headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Currently, in Louisiana, only two of our corporations, Entergy and CenturyLink, qualify for the Fortune 500 list. Thus, it is almost impossible to find a local corporation that has the financial means to sponsor the arena or any other major sports complex.

This decision should be a wake-up call for our local and state leaders. Louisiana is not doing enough to retain our businesses and attract high paying jobs to the state. While there have been periodic announcements of start-up companies moving to the state, much more needs to be done.

A good first step would be to emulate the successful strategies employed by Florida and Texas, both states with no income tax and a thriving business climate. Otherwise, Louisiana can continue to watch other states prosper at our expense.

 

The second term of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will thankfully come to an end on Monday May 7 and it cannot get here soon enough. There is not an overwhelming desire for the new Mayor to take office, instead it is a powerful yearning for self-serving Mitch Landrieu to leave.  As evidence, please visitwww.RingsidePolitics.com and see the failing grades being given to the Mayor in our online poll.

The day his term ends will mark the first time in 30 years that Mitch Landrieu has not been in political office. He started as an Uptown State Representative in the late 1980’s. In 1994, he made his first attempt for Mayor of New Orleans and lost. Nine years later, he ran for Lt. Governor and won 53% of the vote in a crowded field. Before the end of his first term, he ran for Mayor of New Orleans again and lost. In 2007, he won a second term as Lt. Governor and before the end of his term, he finally achieved his dream position, winning the Mayor’s race in 2010.

His eight years as Mayor have seemed like eternity for may New Orleans residents. Under Landrieu, crime has increased, while the NOPD has declined significantly. His interest in creating social programs to deal with crime has not worked. Despite Midnight Basketball programs and “Nola for Life” initiatives, New Orleans remains one of the murder capitals of the nation.

His leadership of the Sewerage and Water Board was abysmal, and it led to the diminished pumping capacity that created a massive flood from a moderate rainstorm last August. While the city was being overwhelmed in flood waters Landrieu refused to leave an Aspen Institute conference. His interest in hobnobbing outweighed his interest in serving his constituents.

In recent weeks, he has generated plenty of national publicity in his book tour from clueless liberal media outlets. None of the show hosts bothered to question the Mayor about the real problems in New Orleans. They just allowed him to spout his nonsense about fighting white supremacy and the legacy of racism by removing priceless, historic monuments.

His battle against the monuments and those who supported historical preservation in New Orleans was an egomaniacal quest to generate headlines and create support among members of the national media and Democratic Party leaders. The monuments were never racially contentious until Mitch Landrieu decided to spend two years and $2 million taking them down. He did not bring about racial unity in New Orleans, he created racial division. The sad thing is that he is proud of his record of promoting hate, while not providing public safety.

In the area of economic development, his record is very poor. In his eight years in office, there have been very few announcements of major employers moving to New Orleans. In addition, he has not redeveloped plenty of potentially viable projects. For example, the old Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans East remains an eyesore today

Under Landrieu, rents have risen, while taxes and fees have skyrocketed. It is very difficult to afford to live in New Orleans for middle income workers.

While those who are employed are finding it challenging to survive in New Orleans, it is truly dangerous for African American men, who suffer from an astronomically high unemployment rate and are the ones most likely to be the victims of crime in the city. Poor neighborhoods throughout New Orleans are littered with blight, drugs, poverty and horrible street conditions. These areas have received almost no attention from a Mayor supposedly focused on battling racism.

Clearly, Landrieu is trying to use his national spotlight to run for President of the United States. He is being pushed by Democrat powerbrokers like James Carville, who compare Landrieu to Obama and Clinton. Hopefully, Democratic primary will not be fooled by Landrieu’s high-powered support and his progressive rhetoric but will examine his failed record as Mayor of New Orleans.

The only question to ask is, “Did Mitch Landrieu make New Orleans a better place to live and create a safer and more harmonious city?” The answer to clearly “No,” and if he failed in New Orleans, he certainly does not merit a promotion to Pennsylvania Avenue.

In his first 15 months, President Donald Trump has fired more administration officials than many Presidents do in an entire term. At this point, it is essential that he use his Celebrity Apprentice tag line “You’re Fired,” for three more Department of Justice officials: Special Counsel Robert Mueller, “The Jackal,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions “The Weasel,” and, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “The Snake.”

Mueller is “The Jackal” because he is trying to politically terminate the presidency of Donald Trump. There is no question that he is doing the bidding of the Deep State and trying to build a case to charge President Trump with a series of crimes.

His 11-month investigation has been a total witch hunt. It reached a new level of danger for President Trump yesterday as the office, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, his attorney, were raided by FBI agents.  Cohen is very close to Trump and has vowed to “take a bullet” for the President if necessary.

It seems the agents were looking for information about the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels days before the November 8, 2016 presidential election. Cohen has contended that he made the payment with his own funds and was not reimbursed by President Trump or the campaign.

In the raid, agents confiscated Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records. As the President’s attorney, all of their communications are privileged, so there will be a team of FBI agents who will be assigned to remove those materials. Despite these assurances, famed attorney Alan Dershowitz called it a “very dangerous day for lawyer-client relations.” He condemned “the deafening silence” of the ACLU on this raid and noted that the organization would be “on every television station in America jumping up and down” if Hillary Clinton’s attorney had been targeted.

This action is a tremendous escalation of the investigation into President Trump. At a meeting of military advisers in the White House, the President addressed the raid. He called it a “disgrace,” noting that the investigators found “nothing” in their pursuit of collusion between the Russians and President Trump.

The problem for the President is that Mueller left the “collusion” aspect of the investigation many months ago. He has been working with his team of partisan Democrat attorneys and focusing on obstruction of justice and crimes unrelated to Russia.

Mueller has been successful in a collecting a few guilty pleas, such as retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who admitted to lying to the FBI. In the case of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Mueller charged him for activities related to his lobbying work with the Ukrainian government several years ago.

The latest move in the investigation obviously concerns the payments Cohen made to a porn star, once again, not related to Russia.

At this point, the President needs to fire Mueller, “The Jackal,” before he wastes any more taxpayer dollars on this fishing expedition. Despite warnings from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and others, Mueller needs to go. He has a history of botched investigations, such as the one probing the anthrax attacks of 2001 that were pinned on the wrong person.

The Special Counsel is clearly laying the groundwork for charging the President and presenting the case for Congress to impeach him. Before it gets to that point, the President needs to send him packing.

Once the President is in a firing mood, he should not stop with Mueller. He also needs to fire Rosenstein, “The Snake.” This is the Deputy Attorney General who wrote the memo recommending that former FBI Director James Comey be fired. However, he is also the Justice Department official who hired Mueller in the first place and started this mission to impeach the President.

Rosenstein also referred the latest raid to a New York U.S. Attorney who authorized FBI agents to seize Cohen’s materials and his attorney-clients communications with President Trump.

As noted by the President, Rosenstein also “signed the FISA warrant” based on a phony Clinton campaign funded dossier that actually involved collusion with Russian sources.

Finally, the President needs to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions “The Weasel.” Unfortunately, Sessions has been a tremendous disappointment as Attorney General. By recusing himself from the Russia investigation, he created the Mueller monster. He seemingly has little to no control over the Justice Department. The real authority rests with Rosenstein and Mueller, not Sessions. He is either too intimidated or compromised to interfere with a Special Counsel who is on a mission to destroy the President.

To make matters worse, Sessions refused to appoint a Second Special Counsel to investigate a variety of abuses involved in the FISA warrant and other matters. There is seemingly no real investigation into Hillary Clinton’s suspicious handling of the Uranium One deal or her mishandling of top secret email communications. She destroyed 33,000 emails that were subpoenaed by U.S. House investigators, but absolutely nothing has happened to her.

While FBI officials raided the homes of Manafort and Cohen, Hillary was given special kid glove treatment in her July 5, 2016 interview. She was not under oath and her responses were not recorded.

Hillary’s attorneys were never raided by FBI agents, they were given immunity. The double standard is atrocious. The Deep State is furiously trying to end the Trump presidency and Sessions, “The Weasel,” is a mere bystander.

Today, the President remarked that Sessions “made a terrible mistake” when he recused himself in the Russia investigation.  As noted by talk show host Mark Levin, the Justice Department is “out of control,” so Attorney General Jeff Sessions must “step aside.” If he does not, the President must fire him.

President Trump seems to finally understand this is a war on his agenda and an attempt to negate the 2016 election. He called the Mueller team “a biased group of people” with “the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen.” Today, he noted that he has been totally cooperative and given over “a million pages in documents to the Special Counsel.” However, nothing short of impeachment will satisfy Mueller.

Mr. President, the time to act is now. Fire these three stains on the Department of Justice and end this “attack on our country.” If not, the consequences for your presidency and our country will be severe.

This week, the United States’ National Space Council met for the second time at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Vice President Mike Pence led the meeting, which was titled “Moon, Mars and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier.” The focus of this gathering of government officials, national security experts, and space entrepreneurs was the ever-expanding commercial and scientific opportunity of the “next frontier.”

According to President Trump, the next frontier should include a return to the Moon with a subsequent trip to Mars. To fulfill this goal, the President’s budget includes $19.9 billion for NASA in the 2019 fiscal year, followed by annual allocations of $19.6 billion until 2023.

When the Space Council was relaunched last year, members emphasized their focus would be on efficiently spending tax dollars on achievable projects offered by space industry leaders with a reliable track record. Thankfully, the administration remained resolute in its original objectives. The desire to increase competition and innovation through objective deliberation and analysis is ostensibly why Pence appointed a 29-member advisory group in its second meeting, which included representatives from all the leading aerospace manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and SpaceX.

The fact that the National Space Council stuck to its keys principles is relieving. After the recently successful inaugural launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket, some pundits – surprisingly, even a Trump administration ally – have implicitly suggested that the Space Council alter its original objectives so companies like SpaceX can artificially receive more support.

This would be an odd switch for a council dedicated to competition. SpaceX’s recent track record highlights why such a shift would be ill-advised.  While SpaceX is enjoying plenty of positive press after its latest successful launch, this exuberance is obscuring a rocky track record. As of last year, repeated failures and delays have resulted in it amassing 70 uncompleted missions worth a whopping $10 billion. And, the significant achievement of launching the cost-cutting Falcon Heavy this month occurred after almost five years of Falcon Heavy delays, a recent SpaceX launchpad malfunction, and the postponement of another Falcon 9 rocket launch set for last weekend.

A SpaceX explosion in September of 2016 obliterated a $200 million Facebook satellite. Other failures include the destruction of a $110 million NASA payload and defaulting on a $60 million U.S. government contract. Perhaps the most spectacular failure occurred in January, when the billion-dollar “Zuma” spy satellite appeared to not reach orbit.

All these incidents have increased concerns about the durability of the SpaceX launch vehicles. In contrast, its only major competitor, the United Launch Alliance, has a perfect record after 12 years and 124 launches. These differences have not escaped the attention of the Defense Department’s Inspector General, who reported that SpaceX suffered from more “deviations from quality standards” than ULA – 50 percent more, to be precise.

This is not to say that SpaceX doesn’t have anything positive going for it, which could lead the company to deservingly earn contracts. Over the past few years, SpaceX has managed to successful cut the sticker prices of many launches, in some cases costing $50 million less than its leading competitor. However, the White House’s leading advisers in the space realm know that sticker price is just one factor in the decision-making process, as is dependability and the prospect of hidden costs, which come in the form of launch malfunctions. That’s why having an array of contractors at the government’s disposal is so important – so taxpayers always get the most bang for their buck and national security remains adequately protected. Any move by the council to artificially throw work towards any vendor would undermine its very mission.

The National Space Council has a tremendous opportunity to revitalize the space industry, and it is encouraging that it is receiving input from a wide variety of manufacturers. But it is also important that the council hold vendors accountable] for their failures and not just blindly throw contracts to vendors and call it competition. Competition only makes vendors more efficient when they are all held accountable to the same standard. This type of process truly puts America First in space, both from a national security standpoint and in safeguarding the precious financial resources of our country’s taxpayers.

In the 2015 gubernatorial campaign, John Bel Edwards pretended he was a conservative Democrat. He emphasized his military background and his support for the pro-life cause and the Second Amendment. Thus, when he was elected, Louisiana supporters expected a somewhat conservative Governor who would steer the state in the right direction. Instead, voters have witnessed a typical “tax and spend” liberal Governor who is a proponent of a large state government and is resistant to tax and fiscal reform.

The current impasse regarding the $1 billion budget deficit is instructive. While Republican legislators are calling for serious spending cuts to balance the budget, especially in the area of the state’s bloated healthcare spending, the Governor only seems interested decimating the hugely successful college scholarship program, TOPS. This is a program that benefits many middle-class Louisiana families because it rewards students who study hard and succeed in high school, regardless of income level. Thus, aspiring students from families of different economic backgrounds can benefit. If any state government program should be protected it is TOPS, which makes the Governor’s threats to eliminate the program all the more absurd.

The Governor also has a track record of supporting tax increases. Under intense pressure from the Governor, the legislature passed a package of tax increases which gives Louisiana a very dangerous distinction. Our state now has the highest sales taxes in the nation, which is a major disincentive for any business to move to Louisiana.

With high taxes, a bloated and inefficient state government, soaring crime rates, poor infrastructure, and misguided political leadership, the latest census data should come as no surprise. The shocking results showed that Louisiana was one of only eight states in the country to have suffered a loss of population in the last year. People are leaving our state in droves due to many reasons, including the anti-business environment that has been created.

With Louisiana suffering under harmful policies and inept leadership, we are vulnerable to poaching from our neighbors. In fact, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a conservative Republican, is coming to Louisiana this week to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.

In this “trade mission,” Scott will be selling the advantages of Florida as an ideal place to establish a business. According to Scott, “While we are fighting to cut taxes and make it harder for politicians to raise taxes in Florida, Louisiana is doing the exact opposite. In fact, for nearly two years, Gov. John Bel Edwards has been continuously working to raise taxes instead of reaching a long-term solution for their state’s financial crisis.”

Since he was elected Governor in 2011, Scott has grown Florida’s economy, while Louisiana has seen a recession, an unemployment rate higher than the national average and continual budget problems. Florida also offers no state income taxes, so Scott can credibly claim it “is the perfect location for Louisiana business owners and families who want to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

In response, Governor Edwards ludicrously declared that “we’ve turned this state around,” and blasted Scott for a “fundraising stop on another one of your campaigns.” It is believed that Scott will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018 against Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson.

Hopefully, Scott’s visit will be a wake-up call for Louisiana voters. We cannot afford to lose our businesses to Florida or any other state; however, we are not going to keep them in Louisiana unless we become more business friendly. We should follow the example of Florida, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and a host of other Southern states which are doing much better economically than Louisiana under conservative Republican leadership.

The next Governor’s race begins in earnest in only 18 months. Let’s hope voters make a course correction in the next election. Otherwise, Louisiana will continue to lose more businesses, population and, influence on Capitol Hill. Since 1990, Louisiana has lost two congressional seats due to population losses. More losses will be coming until we start to follow the pattern of the states which are prospering, and there is no better example than Florida.