New era: A new crop of city-parish leaders took office Monday, with Sharon West Broome being sworn in as Baton Rouge mayor. The Associated Press reports Metro Council members—new and old—also were sworn in and elected Republican Councilman Scott Wilson as mayor pro tempore. Broome is the first woman to be elected Baton Rouge mayor. She will serve a four-year term and succeed Kip Holden, who served from 2005 to 2016. Broome’s first full day as leader of the city-parish is today, though she’s been working on her transition since winning the election in the Dec. 10 runoff. She will speak at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly luncheon at noon. During her inauguration address, Broome said she wants her term as mayor to be described as unifying. She touched on several issues including community policing, flood recovery, traffic solutions, public transportation, education, jobs and race relations.
Up and down: In a sign of how dramatically the landscape is changing when it comes to shopping, experts say don’t expect any let up in store closings in 2017 just because retailers just had biggest growth in holiday sales in five years. USA Today reports that consumers finally opened their wallets this holiday season, making purchases on everything from toys to apparel. But a record amount of the spending for the season went to online sellers. And when the droves eventually showed up in stores, much of the foot traffic was driven by discounting. Promotions are great for shoppers, but not terribly profitable business for those who own traditional stores. “This was a fantastic shopping season, but for many department store and apparel retailers, this was a very challenging holiday,” says Steven Barr, retail consumer leader for consultants PwC. “I anticipate we will see significant numbers of store closures.” Read the full story.
Naming names: President-elect Donald Trump announced this morning he will nominate lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, picking an experienced trade official who has questioned the conservative movement’s commitment to free trade. The Associated Press reports Lighthizer, who served as deputy USTR under President Ronald Reagan, would play a key role in Trump’s trade agenda. The president-elect has vigorously opposed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, but has said he would ink one-on-one trade deals with individual countries. Trump has also signaled a tough stance on trade with China, including levying a hefty tariff on Chinese imports. Lighthizer, who played a senior role during Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, has more recently worked on trade issues as a lawyer, representing manufacturing, agricultural and high-tech companies, according to his law firm biography. Read the full story.