Viewpoint: Where does PSC leader Lambert Boissiere III stand on Entergy’s settlement offer?
By Danae Columbus, opinion columnist
Since 2005, Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III has represented District 3 — which includes most of New Orleans and the River Parishes — on the Louisiana Public Service Commission. He currently chairs the commission, which gives him a very important voice on all regulatory matters. The major issue currently facing the LPSC is whether Louisiana should accept Entergy’s proposed billion dollar settlement offered in response to inflated operational costs of the Grand Gulf nuclear power plant that were charged to ratepayers.
In recent years, Entergy has had a fraught relationship with New Orleans. Complaints regarding over-billing and failure to maintain and upgrade equipment are legendary. Entergy announced last week that Mississippi had agreed to accept a $300 million refund to resolve Grand Gulf related complaints. The utility company was strategic in settling with Mississippi first. By doing so, Entergy blindsided the New Orleans City Council and put pressure on them to accept the $116 million offered New Orleans ratepayers.
The LPSC would receive $95 million, by far the largest portion of the funding. City Council members were quick to voice their concerns about the suggested settlement. The public has also heard from two LPSC commissioners, Craig Greene and Foster Campbell, who represent other parts of the state.
To date, Chairman Boissiere has not said a word publicly. In fact, Boissiere rarely issues press statements or even holds town-hall meetings, where he could receive much needed input from his constituents. Boissiere is also not the best at returning phone calls placed to him at his office in New Orleans. Probably the easiest way to speak with Boissiere directly is to attend a meeting of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Groups like the Alliance for Affordable Energy frequently remind their members when LPSC meetings are being held and what is on the agenda.
Boissiere is up for reelection to his fourth six-year term. Qualifying will take place July 20-22. At this time no candidate has announced he or she will oppose Boissiere.
DACA PROGRAM FOR YOUNG IMMIGRANTS BENEFITS ALL OF US
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Wednesday (July 6) heard arguments on an important case that will decide the future of almost 600,000 young people who were not born in America but came here as young children and consider themselves Americans. They are asking for the legal right to study, work and stay in this country rather than be deported to a place that would be unrecognizable to most.
Created by President Barack Obama more than 10 years ago, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, has become a hot-button issue at a time when thousands are swarming our borders every day.
Except for the America Indians, none of us are natives to this land. America is and will always be a country built by immigrants whose hard work creates a better life for those who came before. As successive ethic groups arrive in this country, they become the workers upon whose labor America still grows and prospers.
Currently it’s Latino workers do much of the heavy lifting, working the hot, dirty, law-paying jobs that other Americans have become too lazy to want. Especially since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleanians have come to rely on newly arrived Spanish-speaking men and women who came to America with little more than a dream about a better life. Give these people a green card and a Social Security number — a hand-up is not a handout. Let them work, pay taxes and be recognized as contributing members of society. Only deport the immigrants who commit crimes or refuse to stay gainfully employed.
At the center of yesterday’s hearing is the legality of the DACA program. In 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA was not legal and dictated that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security no longer approve new applications to DACA but could process renewals while the case was making its way through the federal court system.
The case began with Texas, where officials claim that DACA has cost that state approximately $250 million per year. Attorneys from the Biden administration argued that the financial injury allegedly incurred by the state of Texas was “purely speculative” and the other Republican-controlled plaintiff states did not have standing to challenge the program.
According to news reports, the three appeals court judges assigned to the case — Priscilla Richman, James Ho and Kurt Englehardt – appeared unconvinced by the Justice Department’s arguments. Could it be that fear of the unknown or prejudice against Brown people is driving the resistance to DACA? Even if DACA is eliminated, people looking for a better life will continue to leave everything behind and risk their lives for a chance to become an American.
Do the words that Emma Lazarus penned in 1883 for the Statue of Liberty’s inscription still ring true today — are the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free still welcome? Will our country still lift its lamp beside the golden door?
TWO NEW COVID-19 STRAINS IMPACTING OUR RETURN TO NORMAL
While many New Orleanians are thinking that their lives are returning to “normal,” here comes BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be much more infectious than BA.2 — which was more infectious than the omicron variant. Reinfections are already occurring for people who had initially tested positive as little as two or three months ago, recent studies show.
Symptoms for these new variants are said to include sore throat, runny nose, cough, fatigue, headaches and muscle pain. It’s not known if these variants create a more severe infection than BA.2 or are just more contagious. Face masks and vaccinations are still the two best defenses against Covid-19 and its variants. Don’t get caught short- keep those masks handy.
PICK UP AN EXTRA PACK OF DIAPERS OR FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS THIS WEEKEND
Going to Rouses, Walmart, Robert’s, Breaux Mart or Langenstein’s this weekend? Add a package of baby diapers or feminine hygiene products to your cart or online order. With the passage of the “pink tax” exemption authored by state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman people in Louisiana don’t have to pay unfair taxes on these products any longer.
To mark the long-awaited tax relief, the Junior League is accepting diapers and feminine hygiene products all month long. Donations can be dropped off at League headquarters, 4319 Carondelet Street, Monday through Friday in July from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
SHOP WITH DRESS FOR SUCCESS THIS WEEKEND
Dress for Success, the nonprofit that empowers women in the community, is opening their stockroom doors to the general public to shop for “fabulous fashions at amazing prices.” Shoes and accessories are also included in the sale.
The stockroom, located at 1700 Josephine St., will be open Friday (July 8) from noon until 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Enter through the parking lot. Attendees who bring their own shopping bags will receive $3 off.
Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, former City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.