Our Views: CABL marks 50th birthday

The age of 50, the late commentator Clifton Fadiman once observed, can be liberating, giving one a greater range of possibility.

That’s reason enough to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Council for a Better Louisiana, or CABL, a nonpartisan group that studies state issues and advocates for progressive policies in state government, public and higher education, and economic development.

CABL was the brainchild of two New Orleans businessmen, Darwin Fenner and Edgar Stern Jr., who were discouraged by Louisiana’s political and business climate and decided to form an organization to promote a better future for the state. The result was CABL, formed on June 29, 1962.

At the group’s inaugural meeting, Fenner told his fellow civic activists that “our state is very sick of a malady that has undermined the moral fiber of the officials, driven away those that would make capital investments in industry in the state and caused Louisiana to sink in the estimation of the rest of the nation.”

Since its founding, CABL has placed a strong emphasis on transparency, governmental ethics and spending on education. The organization has been an important voice on state policy, and while we have not always agreed with CABL’s positions on various issues, we are grateful for its role in advancing vigorous public discourse on Louisiana’s future.

Much work still needs to be done in advancing the kinds of reforms that CABL has long advocated. A half-century after CABL’s founding, Louisiana has made significant progress. But sadly, the state continues to place at or near the bottom of national rankings on many key quality of life indicators.

The lesson to be learned from Fenner and Stern is that civic improvement cannot take place without civic involvement. In attending CABL functions and events hosted by similar groups, we’re comforted by many familiar faces, but we’d be even more pleased to see more new people joining the cause.

In this season of New Year’s resolutions, we urge readers to consider a pledge for the 2013. In the coming months, resolve to get involved in groups such as CABL, the Council for a Better Louisiana, the New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research and other public policy groups in Louisiana.

A state with this many challenges — and opportunities — can certainly use the extra help.