Friday, October 09, 2015

Early voting begins this weekend

In a way it feels like the campaign has barely started. I mean we haven't even had one decent debate yet in the Governor's race. Ready or not, though, here it comes.
Hundreds of candidates across Louisiana — from those running for governor on down to candidates for the state Legislature and local offices — are alerting the public through old and new techniques that the week-long, early-voting period begins Saturday.

The effort is so important because as many as 20 percent of all voters will cast their ballots before Election Day, Oct. 24.
Here's the full list of statewide early voting locations.

They grow up so fast

The developmental season is about to get even more developmental.  Grandpa Sean is being positive with the kids. Because that's what you do.
The No. 13 pick of the 2015 draft (Andrus Peat) will make the first start of his career against Philadelphia on Sunday on the left side, forced into the starting lineup by a left knee injury to Terron Armstead that has kept the Saints’ best offensive lineman out of practice all week long, even though he was able to battle through it to finish off the win over the Dallas Cowboys last week.

“I think his confidence is good,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Shoot, he’s a first-round pick at left tackle, and I think he’s prepared. He’ll be ready to go.”
Ha ha, sure.

Just remember these are the precious years. Sooner or later, they're all grown up.
“At some point, they go,” Payton said. “At some point, the rookie kicker kicks, or the young receiver goes, Terron Armstead a few year ago at Carolina. At some point, they go.”

Wage Board

I know I'm not the first to point this out, but if the purpose of your organizing effort is to raise the minimum wage to $15, what is the point of creating an unelected intermediary "board" to make your case in front of?

The push for better citywide wages had plenty of support Wednesday from local fast-food workers, restaurant servers and others in the low-wage hospitality industry.

They addressed a so-called “people’s board” about the struggles of making ends meet in a city with a rising cost of living.

The push, part of a nationwide movement put together by community organizers, drew a crowd of several dozen people — young and old, black and white — to the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in Central City.

The initiative was inspired after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened an unelected Wage Board this year that went on to recommend phasing in a $15 minimum wage for the state’s fast-food workers.

The local board included state Rep. Joseph Bouie Jr., D-New Orleans, and former City Councilman Oliver Thomas, who left the council in 2007 after pleading guilty to bribery charges.

Both men listened, occasionally asking questions or jotting down notes. Colorful banners hung on the wall behind them, summing up the group’s overall demands: “Show me $15 and a union.”
What happens if Bouie and Thomas conclude that they don't really need "$15 and a union?" What if they recommend a more "reasonable" goal like, say, $12 and no union?  How will that have helped?  

Chef Paul

Chef Paul's book

Paul Prudhomme's impact on the New Orleans restaurant scene, on Louisiana food and tourism, on the way people think about American cuisine itself, is beyond measure.  Here are some links that were passed around yesterday that give you something of a sense of that.

"A book could be written about his influence on the New Orleans, Louisiana, American and world cuisines," said WWL Radio restaurant critic Tom Fitzmorris in his New Orleans Menu daily email. "In his prime in the early 1980s, there was no chef whose fame exceeded his. Nor was there ever a time when, in his reflected starshine, Cajun and Creole food was held in greater regard."

"But for all that, Chef Paul's greatest achievement was in changing the way American people - especially young adults - looked upon the restaurant industry. Chef Paul changed the image of a cook from just a a job into a career. Of course, he himself was the best illustration of the possibilities. He grew up in a large, poor Cajun family and turned himself into a world-class chef."
From John Pope's obituary of Prudhomme from NOLA.com
Prudhomme also trained chefs to carry on his way of cooking; among them are (Frank) Brigtsen. Teaching new chefs ''was important to him,'' Brigtsen said. ''It's the next generation to him, almost like a son's going off and making something of himself so Dad could be proud of him. ... It's absolutely an investment in the future.''

In Brigtsen's case, the restaurateur said, Mr. Prudhomme did much more than teach him about seafood and sauces. He lent Brigtsen $135,000 so he could buy the camelback building at 723 Dante St. that became the highly regarded restaurant bearing his surname.
From Ian McNulty's Advocate obit 
As Prudhomme’s star rose higher, his French Quarter restaurant became a hotbed for culinary talent, drawing prospective chefs eager to learn at his side. For instance, Mary and Greg Sonnier, the husband-and-wife chefs who later opened the restaurant Gabrielle, met in K-Paul’s kitchen in the early 1980s.

“We would go in so early and leave so late, but he made it such an interesting place to be as a chef. You learned so much every day there,” Greg Sonnier said.

A table at the back of the dining room served as Prudhomme’s office, where he sampled and assessed dishes his cooks were developing.

“We’d taste the food together, and he would show you how it was supposed to taste, how the flavors should meet your tongue and palate,” Mary Sonnier said.

Here is the story WWLTV ran on the evening newscast.

But the thing to read, really, is this. In 2005, Brett Anderson put together a fantastic "oral history" in conjunction with the 25 anniversary of K-Paul's.
BRIGTSEN: "I remember the first time Paul brought back tasso from the country. I can guarantee you that was the first time tasso crossed the parish line."

PAUL MILLER, executive chef of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen: "Upstairs (from K-Paul's) was called Louisiana Grocery. They had different sausages, tasso. They had meat pies, they had cakes, they had patés. They also had plate lunches and po-boys. We did seven different kinds of mayonnaise."

BOURG: "I don't think he could have (served crawfish) at Commander's, because that was not restaurant food. Crawfish was not really restaurant food. There was crawfish cardinale at Antoine's, but crawfish otherwise wasn'treally found in restaurants until the late '70s, early '80s."

BRIGTSEN: "I remember when Chef was first invited on the 'Today' show in New York. . . . The interesting thing about that story is what he chose to cook: jambalaya. I grew up in the city. Paul grew up in the country. I didn't grow up eating jambalaya. A lot of this stuff was new to me. Anyway, after that show, one of Paul's brothers called Paul and was furious: 'How could you cook that trash food?' This was a time when calling someone a Cajun was a derogatory comment. To them, jambalaya was what poor people ate. It wasn't something that they were necessarily proud of. Paul changed all that."
Prudhomme revolutionized an industry. Which is a strange thing to say because, by the time I was a young adult in the mid-to-late 1990s, he was so much an institution that, to my generation, he seemed more like a bad tourism industry cliche.

I had something of a front seat to this phenomenon working in the hotels.  By this point, the newly renovated K-Paul's had become a tool for measuring what sort of tourist you were dealing with.  The ones who asked you to help them get a table there would appear as yahoos looking to be monrailed in to Cajun Epcot for some down home blackened Aiieeee! or whatever they imagined it was called when a whole grilled alligator is delivered to your table by Justin Wilson.  That got old real quick but it's worth noting that these were the nice people.  The ones who did not want to go to K-Paul's were far worse.

These were the far more pretentious "authenticity tourists."  (Yes, kids, they did exist before Treme. And in depressingly large numbers too.) Not satisfied with whatever they imagined the rubes were being conned into, these better classes always made a little display of telling you they weren't impressed by some played out fad or a TV chef. (So no K-Paul's and no Emeril's.) Instead they would want to go to.. Brigtsen's or Gabrielle, or Jacques-Imo's, or any number of New Orleans mid-to-high range restaurants that were only there because Prudhomme either existed at all or had directly trained their owners and staff. 

But that's the nature of the tourism business. It's driven by fashion and conspicuous consumption of fashion. The quality of a product or experience is secondary to its presentation. As the oppressiveness of that scene swallowed more and more of the city, the locals were swallowing less and less of the fare at K-Paul's. I never had any interest in going there. It seemed like it wasn't really even for me.

That didn't change until Katrina.

We're still recovering from the trauma of K10 so I don't want to get too bogged down in this.  If you were here during the first few months after the flood you remember the half ghost town we existed in. You'll remember the curfews, the intermittent power outages that went on for days. (Strangely no boil orders, though.)  You'll remember also how weird just getting something to eat was.  First there MREs and non-perishables available at FEMA distribution centers, then there were a few stores open but with impossibly inconvenient hours, and then, gradually, other things started to come back.

Prudhomme, who had already been back in town helping to feed recovery workers during September, reopened K-Paul's in October with a limited, cut-price menu.  I can't remember exactly when he brought the brass band in to perform out in front of the restaurant.  But seeing what would have been a groan-inducing trope just a few months prior suddenly became a sight for sore eyes.  The following spring, K-Paul's was one of the first New Orleans restaurants I brought Menckles out to for a date.  She liked the turtle soup.  After that we made it one of our regular special occasion places.

Anyway what is the point of this?  Maybe it's a little bit about how tourism and hipsterism distort our perceptions of things that are essentially good in their own right.  But moreso I'm thinking about the importance of appreciating those things on their own merits while we can. K-Paul's is a great restaurant. We never had a bad time there. Chef Paul was sui generis.

His first book is interesting in a way you might not expect which, I think, further demonstrates Prudhommes unique creativity.  For a mass market "introduction to Louisiana cuisine" these  recipes are pretty complicated. Many things you might think of as one pot or one pan meals are spun out into multiple steps and processes that seem, frankly, unnecessary.  I don't think I've ever followed one of these recipes exactly to its letter. Maybe I should try sometime.

One of the things that always stands out at K-Paul's are the assortment of homemade breads and muffins that come out before the meal.  So to finish out this post, here's a fairly simple recipe from Chef Paul's book for "New Orleans Black Muffins"

3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, dry roasted

In a medium-size bowl combine the hot water and molasses, stirring until well blended. Stir in the milk until blended.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar baking powder, baking soda, and salt
With a rubber spatula, fold the liquid mixture and pecans into the dry ingredients just until flour is thoroughly incorporated; do not over-mix. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 300 degrees until done, 45 minutes to about an hour. Remove from pan immediately and serve while hot.

Hillary has always been at war with Benghazi

This came up in a slightly different conversation yesterday but it's good that we occasionally refer back to the famous 21st Century Neocon Mission Statement.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
And it's still true. The world we live in is one of infinite possibility as long as you concede that there is no reality
After we felt like having a little "light intervention" like a war amuse bouche, and as all the while various Libyan tribes and strong men pass the time turning their fellow citizens into scrapple, this is how low the stakes are on what constitutes moral horror and a good candidate to lead the free world. The fifth or eighth or 12th or 20th iteration of a chickenshit investigation with all internal integrity of a cotton-candy cone being hit with the firehose, and a former first lady/senator/secretary of state who keeps rolling out new appeals based on riding in a van to order a burrito or sitting down to an interview with the auteur behind a navel-gazing twaddlefest targeted at New York blogger solipsism. 

These are the types of battles you get when you arm yourselves only with weapons this mean and flimsy. There is almost no point in debating whether Hillary Clinton is a real person or a good candidate or even one with a certain axis of political aspirations if the next topic in the discussion is going to be something either totally imaginary or morally devoid to the point of insanity. We don't need a real or a fake Hillary Clinton, or to bother determining which one is which. We're hardly even going to talk about the one we already have.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"Now, the second-homers are all over the city"

Nobody actually lives here. But real estate is booming so who cares.
Eric Bouler, a Gardner Realtors agent who has focused on condos since 2004, said second-home buyers, typically ages 50 to 70, are prevalent on the market, and they have expanded their interest beyond the French Quarter and St. Charles Avenue.

"Now, the second-homers are all over the city," Bouler said. "They've been exposed to the Lower Garden District, the Marigny, Uptown, University, Lakefront."

Their willingness to look everywhere has begun to price out some condo buyers looking for a primary residence, he said.

Another growing trend: Wealthy families buying condos, especially larger two-bedroom units, as a place to spend a few months out of the year and invite friends along.

Prices are up. Bouler said. For example, a condo purchased for $175,000 in 2005 just sold last week for $283,000. Most of the demand is focused on a price range of $300,000 to $500,000, he said.

As interest in French Quarter listings has increased, driving prices up, the demand has rippled out into all part of the city, he said.
Not a mystical accident of "the market," by the way.  It's what the people who make the policy have wanted all along.  It's their Boutique City now. They don't think you're good enough to live in it anymore. 

John Boehner's giant "Miss me?" billboard

Does the House really even need a Speaker?

Beast gotta eat

Here's another analysis of Bobby Jindal's insane tax program by Vox's Ezra Klein. Jindal's idea, remember, is to drastically reduce the amount of money the federal government collects each year while also drastically increasing the amount most people pay in taxes.  Kind of a lose-lose proposition for anybody but the most wealthy.

Anyway, Klein contributes the useful observation that this crazy plan, even taken for what it is, is still based on gimmick economics.
Jindal himself estimates that federal revenue will be cut by 22 percent, or $9 trillion, under his plan. And that's after taking into account "dynamic" growth effects: Jindal estimates that annual GDP growth will increase by 1.4 per year, with wages spiking in turn, and 5.9 million jobs will be added. He's not the only person making claims like that: Marco Rubio claims his approximately $4 trillion tax cut will pay for itself due to the growth effect. These estimates are way outside what most reputable economists think tax cuts can do.

In any case, the massive reduction in federal revenue is a feature, not a bug: Jindal wants a much smaller federal government, with much smaller taxes to fund it. This strategy — reducing revenues in hopes that concern over deficits will force spending cuts later on — is known as "starve the beast," and it's been repeatedly debunked. Everyone from libertarians like Cato Institute chairman William Niskanen and political scientist Michael J. New to left-leaning economists like Christina and David Romer have found that decreases in federal revenue do not, in practice, lead to decreases in federal spending. The Romers found that the main effect of tax cuts is to force tax increases later.

Developmental season

Probably the biggest takeaway from the Hicks trade is that it demonstrates the Saints have planned to spend this entire season in developmental mode.  They know they aren't going to compete this year so they're treating 2015 as one long preseason. This is why the roster seems like it's always in flux and why the team is fine with playing so many rookies. They're taking this year off and using the time to learn what they can about themselves.  See this Q & A with Sean Payton after the Dallas game, for example.
You have used a lot of young players, especially on defense, this season; can you talk about the patience that you need to have with guys like that? Is there a point in the season where everything starts to slow down for them?

"It is a progression. I think, to your point with the younger guys, they are learning through reps. I thought (Tyeler) Davison and those guys stepped up and made a lot of plays for us last night. You're hoping that when we put a plan together, we can give them the best chance to be successful. That is the key. I thought a number of young guys really stepped up last night."

After some of the personnel disappointments you have had over the last three or four years, how satisfying is it to see that, collectively as a group, your decisions this year are paying off for you?

"We're in year one so we are not ready to send these guys to Canton just yet. It is good to see that they are playing (and) they're improving. I thought they were active last night, a number of them. Bobby Richardson, Damian Swann and a number of young guys are all receiving a ton of playing time and are helping us."
Don't expect all of those players to play quite that well every week.  Instead, expect more of the volatile trend line of ups and downs we've already seen so far but hopefully one that trends more upward in the aggregate.  Every now and then, they'll even win a game during this process. 

Mostly these wins will look a lot like the Dallas game; messy, penalty-ridden, probably involving somebody's backup quarterback. I started to get a real good feeling the Saints might win Sunday night when I realized just how stupid the game was overall. 

Anyway, that's still the story with these Saints. We're basically just watching some guys go through kindergarten right now.  The year will be a success if we get the vague feeling they might have improved their basic skills a little bit by the end. Along the way they might do one really impressive thing.  Let's hope they save that for next Thursday.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

I don't think that word means what you think it means

Here is a transcript of some remarks made by the President today at something called a White House Summit on Worker Voice.  Let me just point out something that indicates just how clueless, hypocritical, and/or condescending Obama and most mainstream Democrats really are toward, not only the labor movement, but just most working people in general. 

Toward the end of the President's speech he appears to express some sympathy toward the problem of increasing underemployment.
Oftentimes companies became more sophisticated about keeping out unions.  Workers, fearing that they might lose their job to off-shoring or to moving down to a right-to-work state, felt less confident about negotiations.

Our culture as a whole started somehow extolling greed is good, instead of, how do we work together to create a good society for everybody.  Jobs, as a consequence, began paying less, offering fewer benefits.  And in recent years, we’ve seen more companies cut costs by hiring contractors and “permatemps”  -- workers who are laboring side-by-side with full-time employees but don’t earn the same pay and benefits and job security.  That’s a bad phrase -- permatemps.    
"That's a bad phrase -- permatemps."  But does the President even know what it means?  He himself uses the word moments after having praised the very "sophisticated companies" responsible for facilitating its spread. 
In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of American innovation in the workforce.  And because of technology, people are empowered and employers are empowered to create value and services in new ways.

We’ve got folks who are getting a paycheck driving for Uber or Lyft; people who are cleaning other people’s houses through Handy; offering their skills on TaskRabbit.  And so there’s flexibility and autonomy and opportunity for workers.  And millennials love working their phones much quicker than I can.  (Laughter.)  And all this is promising.  But if the combination of globalization and automation undermines the capacity of the ordinary worker and the ordinary family to be able to support themselves, if employers are able to use these factors to weaken workers’ voices and give them a take-it-or-leave-it deal in which they don't have a chance to ever save for the kind of retirement they're looking for, if we don't refashion the social compact so that workers are able to be rewarded properly for the labor that they put in -- people like Terrence -- then we're going to have problems.
LOL those millennials! They are so good and quick with that crazy phone-fu, amiright? Is that kind of banality all it takes for a whole room to miss that the President just got finished praising the "innovators" making everyone into permatemps?  We really are doomed. 

Note also the segue into the threat of "globalization and automation" he just helped bolster via the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  It's hard to think of any way a Democrat could be any more shameless.

Oh wait. Here's one. Just today Hillary Clinton told PBS she is now opposed to TPP. Hillary Clinton, you might recall, used to be Obama's Secretary of State where she almost certainly had a hand in crafting the negotiations that led to the deal.  Don't worry. She'll come back around as soon as she doesn't have to face Democratic primary voters anymore.

Governor Show

Everybody but Vitter is playing tonight. Looks like you can watch on WNOL. I'm going to miss this so I hope it's available to watch on replay. Otherwise y'all let me know how Kim Davis does in this one.

They really could have just cancelled the game

We've seen home football game venues moved in the wake of devastating floods before. They are not fun.
Though South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium was not damaged by the flooding that has plagued the state since the weekend, school officials couldn’t guarantee that police and medical staffing, or drinkable water supplies, would be adequate to support the Southeastern Conference game.

“Yesterday, we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel classes for the week due to the stress 34,000 students would place on the region’s recovering infrastructure, there is no doubt 85,000 fans would exact the same toll,” University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides said in a statement from the school. “In the spirit of supporting our South Carolina community that is so supportive of Gamecock Nation, we have decided to move the game to Baton Rouge. The stress on law enforcement and first responders is too great. Moreover, we’ve had many in the Carolina family directly impacted by the flooding.”
Sure, there's national rankings and Heisman trophy politickin' to consider but those things are unimportant.  There's also some money involved but you have to figure that is a loss anyway. 

Slow motion disaster

We never really got around to treating TPP like it mattered, did we?  Oh well. Here's what we've won.

There is a lot that is wrong with the “free-trade” model embraced by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. But nothing is so wrong as the little-covered but hugely important threat to democracy itself in the form of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which Public Citizen says “formally prioritize corporate rights over the right of governments to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.”

As Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton warned Monday after the announcement of the agreement, the inclusion of ISDS provisions represents “a corporate dream but a nightmare for those of us on Main Street.”

 A New York Times report published Monday explained that the TPP agreement “would overhaul special tribunals that handle trade disputes between businesses and participating nations” in response to “widespread criticisms that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement panels favor businesses and interfere with nations’ efforts to pass rules safeguarding public health and safety.” The “overhaul” involves what the Times referred to as “a code of conduct [that] would govern lawyers selected for arbitration panels.” There’s also a “carve out” to address abuses by “Big Tobacco.” That’s fine; but the problem goes far beyond lawyers, and far beyond the wrongdoing of one industry. The problem goes to the heart of the matter of whether special tribunals, which exist to advance free trade, will have the power to help multinational corporations circumvent or undermine local laws.
If you have to "carve out" something just to make sure tobacco companies don't abuse the system, doesn't that mean the system is inherently a vehicle for abuse? 

Nobody cares. It's amazing that nobody has cared much about this. Twenty years from now, the TPP will be remembered as Obama's primary legacy.  And the world it delivers to us will be more unequal and less democratic than even the one in which we currently live.

Bobby Jindal's national tax hike

Bobby Jindal thinks poor people don't pay enough taxes.
Mr. Jindal’s plan seeks to compress the current seven tax brackets to three, with those in the lowest rung paying a 2% rate. It would also eliminate most deductions, including those that allow millions of Americans to pay nothing in federal income taxes.

Mr. Jindal takes a different tack on taxes than his GOP rivals, particularly those looking to shield more Americans from paying federal income taxes at all, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and real-estate developer Donald Trump. Mr. Bush would nearly double the standard deduction and estimates under his plan that roughly 15 million additional Americans would “no longer bear any income-tax liability.”

Mr. Jindal’s proposal would eliminate the standard deduction and the $4,000 personal exemption. That means a family of four would pay taxes on at least $28,600 in income that is now protected from the Internal Revenue Service under the current tax code. Mr. Jindal proposes a nonrefundable tax credit that could replace some of these deductions for households with children under the age of 18, or people older than 65 who make less than $5,000. He didn’t offer specifics on how this might work.
See, this way we can get more people "rowing the boat." 
In the release announcing his plan, Mr. Jindal acknowledged it would be controversial for exposing lower-income Americans to taxation. “It re-establishes the idea that, in America, everyone is expected to help row the boat,” he said in the release. “Independence, not dependence, is the root of the American dream. It’s time we had the guts to say so in public.”
Note that is different from getting more people "pulling the wagon" in that it is a metaphor neither Bobby, nor his protege Scott Angelle, nor even former State Rep. David Duke has used before to make the same argument.  Note also, that Bobby's reason for wanting more people to row has absolutely nothing to do with getting the boat across the water before he deliberately sinks it.
Mr. Jindal estimates his changes would reduce the federal tax revenue by $9 trillion, or 22%, over 10 years. He also predicts the gross domestic product would grow at more than 4% a year, and that wages would grow at more than twice that pace. Mr. Jindal has said he plans extensive budget cuts.
It's interesting to see Jindal bring up this plan now.  Remember a few years ago he tried to do something similar to the tax structure in Louisiana. But his"tax swap" plan which would have repealed the state income tax in favor of higher sales taxes, was so unpopular, even with the conservative Louisiana Legislature, that he ended up "parking" it with no further action.

At the time, Mark Moseley wrote in The Lens that the whole exercise had really been about positioning for the 2016 race.
This is a priority for Jindal, not Louisiana. It’s a policy motivated by personal ambition and couched in talking points instead of sound economics. The state deserves a better, more informed debate. Not about a particular “plan,” per se, but about Jindal’s views on economics.

In short, Jindal-nomics conform to supply-side ideology, appeal to establishment Republican kingmakers and would allow Jindal to posture as a Bayou Reagan in advance of the 2016 presidential race. That’s what he wants, and if Tidmore is right, that’s what he’ll get.
The Chris Tidmore reference in that quote is regarding a column where Tidmore reported that Jindal was still determined to achieve an income tax repeal despite having set aside the "swap" plan. At the time, Moseley concluded that Jindal would need a win there in order to outflank his GOP opponents to the right on tax policy in Iowa.  Today it looks like Jindal is going for it anyway.  But this is even more blatant.

In the "tax swap" scenario Jindal was trying to sell a net tax increase on poor and middle class people behind the smokescreen of a "repealed income tax."  In this new plan, he's just coming out and saying, look, poor people are moochers, and I'm gonna make them pay by any means necessary. It's the same basic policy except a bit meaner in tone this time.  But when the tone is set by Donald Trump as the frontrunner for an entire summer, this is what happens.

Hanging judge

Remember last month all Kern Reese wanted to do was put the mayor under house arrest.  Judge Giarruso has "different ideas."
The scene that played out in Giarrusso’s court Tuesday was almost a rerun of the arguments the two sides made over the summer in a case in which Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ultimately ordered that Mayor Mitch Landrieu be placed under house arrest. Reese’s ruling was stayed at the last minute by the state Supreme Court.

Giarrusso put off deciding whether to follow a similar path, saying she wanted to give the high court time to weigh in on the question of whether the courts can force city officials to pay millions of dollars they don’t want to.

After saying she would wait until January for that ruling and then take her cues from the Supreme Court, she suggested she was already thinking about taking further steps in the case.

“I have ideas that are a little bit different than Judge Reese does,” Giarrusso said.
Okay, like what, though?  She doesn't actually say.  Although she does say this. 
City officials have attempted to link the cases. Andy Kopplin, Landrieu’s chief administrative officer, said in court Tuesday that the city has no plans to pay the pension fund money while it continues efforts to negotiate a global settlement with the firefighters covering both cases. The city and firefighters have been in mediation in an attempt to reach such a deal for months.

Giarrusso said she was “extremely troubled” by the lack of a plan.

“I told you the last time you were here I was going to give you a lot of rope,” she said. “I hope you didn’t all hang yourselves with it.
Uh oh.  Y'all better get that settlement worked out. Either that or be out of town by sundown, apparently. 

Dear Piyush

I was thinking maybe Bobby/Piyush would get some faux outrage mileage out on this. But he decided instead to say something stupid about Planned Parenthood.
Clinton’s campaign went full formal in addressing the gifts, listing recipients by their legal names, rather than names they commonly go by. A list the campaign distributed named “Piyush Jindal” in place of Bobby [as well as other formal names, including “Rafael E. Cruz” and “John E. Bush” — more commonly known as Ted and Jeb].

Jindal’s legal name is Piyush, though he has gone by “Bobby” since his youth. As the story goes, Jindal renamed himself as a child in honor of the youngest son on the sitcom The Brady Bunch.

Jindal was quick to respond to Clinton’s book offer, saying he would read her book if she watched the series of controversial undercover Planned Parenthood sting videos.
Dumb all around, really.  Can't wait to see if Bobby sends her a copy of his book. Will probably pointedly address it to "Mrs. William J. Clinton" or some dumb such. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Big Oil's boy

Anybody But Vitter 

From Sunday's Advocate, here's Tyler Bridges taking a shot at following some of the money in the Governor's race.  For the purposes of Bridges's article, the power conflict at work is "trial lawyers" vs."business interests." The situation has more facets than just that. "Tort reform," for example, is about more than just wealthy business owners and the wealthy lawyers who sue them.

Not to mention the fact that "trial lawyers" often work for "business interests" themselves.  Not to mention, also, the times when their relationship is less adversarial than it appears on the surface.  For more on how "trial lawyers" and "business interests," work both for and against one another in several dimensions of Louisiana politics, please read all of American Zombie.

But it's not a terrible framework in which to place this article which is, after all, about politics.  What are all these frenemies trying to do with their giant sacks of money in the election?
One Baton Rouge-based law firm is spending at least $1.7 million for television ads that attack U.S. Sen. David Vitter, the gubernatorial candidate who wants to kill the lawsuits that landowners file against oil and gas companies.

“We just want to defeat David Vitter,” said Don Carmouche, whose firm, Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, is funding the anti-Vitter super PAC. “He’s Big Oil’s boy.”

Carmouche said the other three gubernatorial candidates “are reasonable.” They are Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only Democrat in the race.

Carmouche said the firm is spending an additional $625,000 beyond the $1.1 million previously reported for the anti-Vitter ads.
They're all out to get Vitter because he's "Big Oil's boy."  Not that the lawyers themselves are not also that from time to time but that's another story.  They're certainly right about David Vitter in this case.  Are they right about the other candidates being any different, though? Not really.

Here's a profile of candidate Scott "T-Bobby" Angelle NOLA.com ran today.  According to this article, Angelle is running on the strength of his "Big personality."
While some of the other others can get deep into the weeds of their policy agendas, Angelle is often shorter on specifics. He is more likely to use an anecdote from his own life to get his point across.

"He's running a personality campaign. He thinks that's his strength so that's what he's doing," said Bernie Pinsonat, who owns the Baton Rouge-based polling firm Southern Media Strategies.
Okay.. maybe. But he's also running on the strength of his personal relationship with the oil industry.  
But Angelle, who used to be a Democrat, is trying to appeal to moderates in that party. Angelle is a social conservative, who said he switched parties primarily because national Democrats weren't backing up the oil and gas industry like they should have.

Angelle has close ties to the oil and gas industry. He majored in petroleum land management at the University of Louisiana–Lafayette. As the head of the Department of Natural Resources, he helped regulate the oil and gas industry for the Blanco and Jindal administrations.

Angelle sits on the Sunoco Logistics board of directors, for which he gets paid almost $390,000 – as long as he attends all of the meetings – according to federal filings. U.S. Sen. David Vitter's campaign has called foul on that relationship, implying Angelle used his positions in state government to get the board post.

Angelle said he has not been involved in regulating the company while sitting on its board. If elected governor, he said he would step down from the position.

Oilman and gas CE0 James Flores has also donated $1.25 million to Angelle's affiliated PAC, called Louisiana Rising. Flores' mega-donation has raised some eyebrows.
Sounds like Big Oil has more than one boy, doesn't it? Angelle, in fact, is the only candidate in the race who has received an award from an oil and gas lobbying association for his work... not enforcing environmental regulations as a member of the Public Service Commission.

What about these other guys?  Well there's Jay "Mr. Bean" Dardenne. Prior to his opposition to the well-publicized levee authority lawsuit against the industry last year, Dardenne also boasts of his work to stop Foster Campbell's proposed oil processing tax; our last semi-honest attempt at asking the industry to help pay the state any new fee in return for the vast mineral wealth it extracts from within our borders.

John Bel Edwards is the only candidate to have expressed support for the SLFPAE lawsuit.. although it is now a moot point. He also claims to side with these "trial lawyers" and their right to sue oil companies.  At the same time, though, when this became an issue in his own region of the state recently, Edwards sided with the oil company.
All four candidates also said they believe the state, not local governments, should have the final say-so when it comes to drillers’ hydraulic fracturing operations within a parish. The technique, called fracking, uses high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to loosen oil and gas trapped in rock. Opponents claim the technique could contaminate groundwater and cause other damage.

St. Tammany Parish government and the town of Abita Springs filed separate lawsuits last year to stop New Orleans-based Helis Oil & Gas Co.’s plans to drill near a high school.

The candidates said state jurisdiction over drilling is a must or else there could be just as many sets of drilling rules as there are municipalities and parishes — hundreds.
In the Hellis case, the state stepped in to shut down local action against the fracking operation. You can prattle on about the imagined jurisdictional chaos all you want. That's not what the issue was here and all of these worms, including Edwards, know it.

But for some reason the lawyers have taken a look at the pool of Big Oil boys and selected only one as their target. Why would they do that?  Well, I've tried to point out previously that, if you're trying to knock David Vitter out in the primary, the best explanation for that is you're actually working on behalf of one of the other Republicans.

Given that, and given what we also know about the complicated, not always adversarial, relationship between business interests and trial lawyers, the next question to ask is, which Big Oil boy also belongs to Big Trial Lawyer?

Update: More from Bridges on T-Bobby
State and federal records show that Angelle earned $52,000 in 2014 as an elected member of the PSC, a part-time job, while he earned $194,000 in income and future stock options while serving as a board member of Sunoco Logistics, a company with pipelines that traverse Louisiana.

In 2013, he earned even more in income and stock options — $380,000 — while serving on Sunoco’s board, according to the company’s filings with the federal Securities Exchange Commission.

“When I first heard about it, it was an eye-opening moment,” said Foster Campbell, another PSC member.
That is very ethicsy.  Or at least it is for a former Jindal Admistration official. They don't give that Blue Heron award out to just anybody, you know. 

I hate hate hate The Lens's comment gateway

I don't want to "sign in" just to leave a damn comment so I'll just post my question here. It's less likely to be answered but maybe somebody can help me with this.

The Lens story is about a development in the slow boiling turf battle between the city Inspector General's Office and the Independent Police Monitor.  You should go read through that and  some of the background it links to if you're not familiar. This is going to be a bigger political issue than it seems right now.

Anyway, here's my question regarding this specific article.

In what regard is this disqualifying factor for picking a professional services vendor,
Wisdom also said her office objected to Hutson’s preferred vendor, the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, because Hutson had been consulting with the group about how such a review should be conducted.
 Different from this qualification for the one the IG chose? 
She added that PARC is the best qualified contractor for the job because of its knowledge of the city — in 2007, the City Council hired the group to help draft the ordinance establishing the Office of the Independent Police Monitor.

The sociopathy primary

You know, when Ben Carson confirmed to the world that he does not, in fact, experience human emotional responses, it really didn't surprise any of us.
Mr. Carson is also not willing to give any ground on gun rights. In a question and answer session on Facebook this week, he explained that two of his cousins were killed in the streets and that as a doctor he has had to remove many bullets from bodies. Despite the breathtaking nature of such violence, he said, curbing the right to bear arms is not a real solution.

“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” Mr. Carson wrote.
We've come to expect this kind of sociopathy from our Presidential front-runners. It seems increasingly like a prerequisite for office. My only concern now is that by desensitizing us all to the horror of their stunted behavior that they might also be infecting us with it.

Anyway, what we probably should have expected as soon as we learned about Carson's sickness this morning, was that Bobby Jindal would immediately try to match it.
In a lengthy blog post published on his presidential campaign website Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) claimed the father of Oregon gunman Chris Harper Mercer was a "complete failure" and demanded that he apologize for the shooting.

In the blog post -- titled "We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result" -- Jindal blamed the prevalence of mass shootings in America on "deep and serious cultural decay in our society," jumping from a condemnation of violence in media and a reference to abortion to a discussion of the reported absence of the father of the Harper Mercer in the young man's life.

"This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns," Jindal wrote. "Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here."

Perpetual underemployment

Pretty comprehensive post here on the so-called "sharing" or "gig" economy.... you know, Taskrabbit, Uber, Airbnb and the like.

One problem we run up against when discussing these phenomena locally, is our reportage tends to assume the debate happening over Airbnb in New Orleans is occurring in total isolation. It's almost as though Bob Ellis and some "entrepreneurial" landlord friends of his invented the thing.  Readers are left to interpret the issue, as Stacy Head does, as a simply a local means of putting property to what realtors call its "highest use" purpose in order to "reduce blight" and (hopefully) raise tax revenue (though I don't think that's as much a priority as they say.) 

The only counter-argument presented is the upward pressure this action is putting on rents.  That ought to be enough but.. as we've seen.. our political leaders don't really care about renters or poor people in general.  And by and large the press writes about gentrification as though it were a natural inevitable event.  I try to write about the deliberate policy choices our leaders make in order to encourage and nurture it but that never seems to get through to anybody.

Of course, they say all politics is local, so it's important to "act locally"... as they also say. But it's also worth keeping in mind, at least for perspective's sake, that the context for this thing we're acting on is global.
Worse yet, the model itself caters to the worst aspects of neo-libertarianism (no rules, no regulations, no oversight, no workplace protections, no safety nets, and so on). It’s as cynical and even a little desperate. It can even be predatory and opportunistic… which would be somewhat fine if the prize were worth the cost to the community, but the reward is basically worth pennies on the dollar, which makes it a zero-sum game for everyone not standing to make real money on the back end. It undermines full-time employment. It undermines workplace protections. It undermines income security. Follow that daisy chain long enough and you’ll see how it impacts consumer confidence and spending too. And does it at least lower the cost of goods or increase real GDP? Nope. It doesn’t.

Here’s the truth of this model: look at it long enough and you’ll start to see how Dickensian it really is. And once you see it, once you get what it really is and where it really leads, you can’t unsee it. For more on that, read this bit by Alexander Howard (Huffpo’s Senior Tech and Society Editor).

Here’s an exercise: Imagine a world where nobody has full time jobs anymore, where everyone is a contractor. For some of you, that will probably seem like some kind of entrepreneurial utopia, a libertarian dream. In theory, sure. It sounds kind of cool because “freedom”… but then you realize that it’s the kind of model that we did away with in the early parts of the 20th century, and for good reasons: A “gig economy” cannot produce or support a healthy middle class. It doesn’t factor-in realistic retirement planning or college savings. Because it eliminates income security, it all but eradicates upward mobility. What you end up with is a 1% class (more like a 5%) and a 99% (95%) class, which isn’t super healthy for any economy, as history shows us time and time again. Fully realized, that gig economy looks like this for the 99%: selling and renting everything they possibly can to make ends meet and save a little money here and there. For the 1%, it cuts most of the cost out of running a business, which is kind of the point.
Not all of that applies to Airbnb specifically. But the Short Term Rental "sharing economy" idealized as locals residents renting out a couch or a spare bedroom on the weekends,  is often sold to us locally as a way to help service industry workers or "culture bearers" as they're sometimes infuriatingly termed, make ends meet.  Why are we not focused on helping these people make ends meet through their regular work?   Our thought leaders won't say.  Although it's likely that tourism leaders are pleased with a labor market driven by perpetual underemployment as it is. And since tourism leaders are the thought leaders in this town, well.. there you go.

Besides, at the last community meeting, the landlords up and said this isn't about quaint little part time open house hosts.  They say they want to turn whole neighborhoods into permanent resort villas. Where the help... and in the context of a fully realized sharing economy we are all pretty well described as "the help".. goes to live when that happens, is really not their problem.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Biking across Central City today I came upon this.. um.. installation on S. Saratoga Street. I have no idea what's going on here.

"Arts" house

"Arts" House

This is just a couple of blocks off of the Oretha Castle Haley cultural overlay gentrification zone.  They say the area is up and coming. Not sure where this fits in with that.

Everything about the BP settlement and NRDA report

See Mark Schleifstein's report at NOLA.com.

Fine. Just fine. I'm fine.

You know that thing where a person in denial insists that everything is just fine?
Brees didn’t offer much more detail when asked on Sunday night how the shoulder felt.

“I mean, yeah, I felt good. I felt good enough. Good enough to get the job done,” Brees said with a laugh.

When asked a follow-up question, Brees replied, “Listen, I’m fine, yeah. Like I said, we got the job done, it’s fine.”
It is helpful context to know that this is a quote from an obviously mentally disturbed person.

(Everything you ever needed to know about Drew Brees gif via Gambit)

Anyway, if you read the rest of that ESPN article, you'll find an inconclusive diagnosis. It's true that Brees had to deal with terrible pass protection all night, but this doesn't mean we couldn't also see evidence his shoulder was bothering him at times.   There were a few throws late in the game where, though Brees had time to throw, he looked.. at least to us drunken plebes up in Section 617.. like the shoulder was a problem. I remember one ball thrown behind Colston who was open on a slant as well as one skipped off the ground toward Snead that looked particularly suspicious.  Also Drew thew an interception that ended up being nullified by penalty.  We didn't know what the hell his shoulder was looking at on that play.

But then, on the final series of regulation, Drew made some really great throws getting the team into position for what should have been a game winning field goal. The touchdown pass in overtime was pretty good too.   So I guess the question is, what did they shoot him up with before that final drive and where can we get some? 

Still a win for BP

The Justice Department announced the finalization of a settlement it reached with BP back in July.  There are a lot of self-congratulatory quotes from officials in this story.
Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell said the settlement will sustain one of the largest natural resource restoration efforts ever undertaken in the United States.

"This agreement brings renewed hope for a fully restored Gulf of Mexico to millions of Americans who value the Gulf for its contributions to our economy, our environment and plentiful recreational opportunities," Jewell said.

Louisiana is expected to get more than $6.8 billion in addition to the $2 billion the state already received from the oil company, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a news release.

"This settlement is the largest environmental settlement in history, and I am extremely proud to have led Louisiana's litigation efforts," Caldwell said. "With this recovery, we can move forward to begin rebuilding our coast and repairing the damage caused by this spill rather than dealing with the uncertainty and delays of trial and appeals."
You probably already understand why the settlement is not near enough to cover Louisiana's dire need to fix its coast.  It's not, nothing, but it's not enough.  Back in July we also explained why this is a pretty good deal for BP overall.  Nothing about today's announcement changes any of that. 


Gomer for Governor

I've got some more Governor's race stuff in the hopper.  But here's another poll released yesterday.
The stunning results reveal democrat State Rep. John Bel Edwards leading his closest competitor by nearly ten points, with 28% of respondents favoring him over U.S. Senator David Vitter, who sits at 19%.

This exclusive gubernatorial poll, conducted by JMC Analytics & Polling of Baton Rouge, is the the first to reveal any significant separation by one of the candidates.

These new numbers could also spark concern for the two other notable republican candidates, who’ve both dropped into single digits. According to the Local 33 News and JMC Analytics poll, 8% of respondents prefer Scott Angelle, while Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne commands just 7%.
Poll was conducted before the terrible WDSU debate and before Gambit decided to try and make Dardenne a thing. (More on all of that later.) 

"The reality is the US dropped those bombs"

We really are the bestest and the greatest, though.
"Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical."

Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières
According to some of the American reportage, though, this is really more of a coincidence.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Burnout Sean is burnt out

Earlier in the week, Saints coach Sean Payton was asked about how his quarterback was doing. Payton talked about how Brees was "being meticulous" about his rehab.  But even in formulating those words, Payton himself seemed to lose focus halfway through the sentence. 
"When you're going to throw and it gets caught, there's a torque," said Payton, referring to play in which Brees injured his shoulder on Sept. 20 against Tampa Bay. "It stresses that joint. But the rehab has gone well and you know how he is with being meticulous and all of that. It's encouraging."
"You know how he is with being meticulous and all of that."  You know, like, details and whatever. Sean Payton is barely paying attention anymore.  Here he is talking to Bob Costas about his career.. and by implication, his future.. in New Orleans.
While reminiscing about the Saints' Super Bowl in 2009, Payton said he doesn't believe the book has been closed on the franchise's run of success.

"I feel like we're turning the pages and we've still got a big chunk in this book left. There's a lot more here," he said, according to advance quotes provided by NBC.
Still got a lot of book left. That sounds okay. Just got to keep plugging away and stay focused on turning the pages and then... 
Payton said the memories of the team's success in the post-Katrina years would always be meaningful to him.

"At some point, this train is going to stop in New Orleans for all of us, and I would say it became bigger than football when we first got here through those early years.
 Oh godddammit, Sean, is this a book or is it a freaking train?  Or do you even care enough about being "meticulous and all of that" anymore to keep your darn metaphors straight?

There was a time not too long ago when Sean Payton vs a high profile opponent like Dallas in prime time at home in the Superdome felt like a lock.  We really don't feel like being 0-4 right now but it's hard to see it not going that way tonight.   

Saturday, October 03, 2015

That'll show 'em

I hope the kids have been enjoying their little in-jokes.
“Off the top of my head, I couldn’t cite you Title 14,” Vitter began his answer Monday night. “I don’t know exactly what it says. But given that Jay Dardenne knows exactly what it’s about, this question was obviously planted as a gotcha question at me.”

He repeated the accusation: “It’s a gotcha question, not a good public debate question for a discussion about the future of Louisiana. So let’s all recognize what’s going on here and what it’s all about. I’ve spoken about my past and how my family has dealt with that, actions from 15 years ago and how me and my family have dealt with that. I’m very happy and very proud to say we’ve dealt with it just fine. If that’s not good enough for you, then that’s not good enough for you. But it is for Wendy [his wife] and it is for our family. It is for us. I really don’t appreciate the games and the gotcha question planted on behalf of my opponents.”

The question came from one of several asked by Anna Friedberg, a criminal defense attorney representing the Orleans chapter of the Alliance for Good Government.

That was the Orleans chapter’s question,” Friedberg said afterward, suppressing a giggle at the idea that they had coordinated the question with the Dardenne campaign.
Whooo aren't we all so naughty! Well, okay, Vitter is clearly the naughty boy here. But that's the problem. Everyone seems to think it's the height of cleverness to fixate on that.  You did it. You got in your little snarky joke. And, of course, Vitter (the guy who wears the diapers) made you look like children for doing it. Because that's what always happens when this comes up.

More importantly, it makes you look like you have nothing of substance to say about Vitter in opposition.  Never mind that Governor Vitter's approach to next year's state budget would preserve all of the worst of Bobby Jindal's tax giveaways to Vitter's allies in the business and oil and gas lobbies. Never mind that Vitter moved to protect his backers in the oil industry from liability even while the Macondo well was still bleeding into the Gulf.   Last month in a statement to a House Natural Resources Commitee hearing, Vitter attacked safety rules aimed at preventing another Macondo type accident, as "a regulatory avalanche coming from the Obama Administration aimed at oil and gas."

Thus far, Vitter's opponents, the various PACs funding their advertising, and the commenters and bloggers promoting their campaigns have steered far away from criticizing Vitter on these issues choosing instead to focus on the prostitution scandal.  I've never understood what goes through the minds of people who write about elections specifically with the purpose of helping a candidate anyway. But in this case, I really have to wonder who it is they think they are helping.

Here's an article by  Jeremy Alford on how the dynamics of the open primary make for "unlikely alliances" among the candidates.
We’re only talking about loose alliances here, forged not by admiration but rather by necessity. Together, in both instances, they offer each other not only protection, but also paths to victory.

Vitter and Edwards are certainly the odd couple out of this set. Vitter’s best shot at becoming the next governor is with Edwards by his side in the runoff, if you believe the polls and the senator’s boosters. That’s because, on paper at least, a Democrat running statewide against a Republican has major hurdles to overcome in conservative Louisiana. 

But Vitter isn’t exactly the Louisiana Republican archetype. He has problems, most notably his “serious sin” from 2007. His opponents, reporters and independent expenditure groups are dumping negatives on him at a constant clip now, dredging up stories that Vitter undoubtedly hoped would remain buried. If the attacks continue to flow and somehow resonate in a meaningful way, Edwards’ supporters believe they can turn the tide and make the impossible possible.
Edwards wants to face Vitter in the runoff because he is the only Republican he could possibly beat. A PPP poll released September 23rd says Vitter is "badly damaged and highly vulnerable" in a runoff.  Here's why.

Second choice

Nobody likes David Vitter. Even supporters of Angelle or Dardenne tend to prefer Edwards as a second choice.  In the PPP poll, Edwards beats Vitter head to head.


Dardenne and Angelle see the race differently than either Vitter or Edwards does. Edwards and Vitter are playing the traditional two stage game; finish in the top two and then start working on the runoff campaign. For either non-Vitter Republican, the whole race is about making the runoff where either is more or less unbeatable.  It would be a difficult task but the numbers show that John Bel Edwards can beat David Vitter.

So the primary at this point is about this. Do you prefer a chance at electing Edwards or do you prefer one of the very conservative Republicans looking to knock Vitter out of the primary?  Basically if you have been attacking Vitter via the prostitution scandal during this period, you are campaigning on behalf of Angelle and Dardenne each of which represents a policy program as bad or worse than Vitter's. Hope y'all are happy with the results of that.

Circle of stupid

Here's a political ad that could have been ripped right out of today's headlines.  It's a candidate for Governor running on a "murders not monuments" platform. It's got an armed robbery at a New Orleans restaurant, and a lizard-brained appeal to the "good guy with a gun" myth

It's an ad for Mike Foster from 1995.

Because nothing ever changes and we are doomed to trudge around in the same stupid circle forever. 

Keep kicking the poors

Good job
For decades the Circle Food Store store has been an anchor of the 7th Ward community, especially for those whose use SNAP, the government food assistance program. But soon more than 60,000 people across Louisiana could have to go without.

The Department of Children & Family Services now says able-bodied SNAP recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 with no children, must find a job or be in a job training program or risk being booted from the benefits program.

Jan Moller, of the Louisiana Budget Project, believes the policy change is going to just cause more problems.

"Food is such a basic thing that people need to live, and I think this is going to create a lot of hardships for people who already have it very hard, who are already struggling to get by everyday," said Moller.
A state department decided to tighten up on an already tiny spigot of federal funds in order to.. well.. just to shame the people they've already abused
Benefits paid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, are totally federally funded, so no state budget funds are being saved.

Under the change, which went into effect Thursday, able-bodied adults will be required to work no less than 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a federally approved job training program. If the requirement is not met by Jan. 1, the food stamp dollars, which average $194 a month, end. Sonnier said the 20-hour-a-week work requirement can be met by doing approved volunteer work or in a nonpaid job.
"No state budget funds are being saved."  Hey somebody tell that to David Vitter. He seems to think he's going to fix the state budget by eliminating "food stamp fraud."   
Vitter wants a sunset on all tax credits and rebates that exist. This means the Legislature would have to vote to keep such programs in place. In order to save money in the short term, Vitter has said he wants to target food stamp fraud and reduce the number of cars state government uses. He also mentioned getting rid of the solar tax credit. 
By the way, "food stamp fraud" is not a problem that exists in any meaningful way.  But that doesn't stop it from being a perpetual political hobbyhorse for candidates running on a kick-the-poors platform.

Meanwhile, the costly, corruption-ridden "Hollywood South" tax giveaway to film studios will cost the state $180 millon next year. And that's only if the cap the legislature just put on the program actually remains in place. All four of the major candidates running for Governor have declared their intentions to call a special session shortly after taking office.  Gambit's preferred candidate, Lt. Governor Mr. Bean, thinks the cap is too low.

So there's your election. The front-running candidate wants to kick the poor when they're down and the press darling wants to give more tax money away in corporate welfare. Only one candidate is serious about tuition relief and Medicaid expansion but nobody.. not even the "usually liberals"..  take that guy seriously.

Good job all around, everybody. 

All we do is win-win-win

Napoleon Avenue Roadway Configuration Image.png

They're saying the new plan is full of win
City officials released a compromise plan for Napoleon Avenue on Thursday that would maintain the size of the neutral ground and add a bike lane — without reducing the number of lanes dedicated to traffic or parking.

The idea is to reduce the width of both traffic and parking lanes by 2 feet each, rather than eliminating lanes altogether or reducing the size of the neutral ground.

The final configuration will be two 10-foot-wide vehicle travel lanes, one 5-foot-wide dedicated bicycle lane and one 7-foot-wide parking lane in each direction. The neutral ground will be restored to its original, pre-construction width of 47 feet

This is a win-win-win for area neighborhoods, motorists and cyclists,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release. “By working together, we feel confident that this roadway configuration is a reasonable accommodation for all interests.”
Is that really a "win-win-win"? Sounds more like nobody got what they wanted. Unless you count the portion of the neighborhood that wanted to make sure they didn't shrink the neutral ground, I guess. Although that wasn't the neighbors' only complaint and I'm not even sure that was their first priority.

They were also worried about the bike lanes. Specifically they were worried that a bike lane on a street like Napoleon Avenue was bound to produce a safety hazard at major intersections as they have in other places around town.  Another issue with the proposed bike lane was its placement between a lane of traffic and the on street parking which is also something that happens all over town despite being a clear safety hazard. 

Both of these issues are also frequently raised by cycling advocates to little avail so it's hard to say that this is really a "win" for them either. All they're getting now is another unsafe bike lane jammed in next to two 10 ft wide lanes of traffic which, by the way, is also not quite in keeping with the "best practices" standard for a trucking and transit artery like Napoleon Avenue.
For multi-lane roadways where transit or freight vehicles are present and require a wider travel lane, the wider lane should be the outside lane (curbside or next to parking). Inside lanes should continue to be designed at the minimum possible width. Major truck or transit routes through urban areas may require the use of wider lane widths. 

Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street's safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck or transit routes, one travel lane of 11 feet may be used in each direction. In select cases, narrower travel lanes (9–9.5 feet) can be effective as through lanes in conjunction with a turn lane.
The only "win" here is a slight one for the city the next time it wants to write a report about the total mileage of bike lane they've installed over the course of Mitch Landrieu's term in office. It doesn't really matter whether the bike lanes in question are actually placed where they'll be used properly or even if they do anything to protect the safety of the cyclists who have to navigate them. All that matters is that the mayor's office can make "the data show" how progressive a city we've become under their watch.
As bicycle ridership increases, the City is committed to expanding our network of bikeways. According to the League of American Bicyclists, New Orleans currently ranks fifth in the nation amongst large cities in the percentage of residents who bike to work. With the completion of the Lafitte Greenway’s bicycle and pedestrian path, New Orleans will have more than 100 miles of bikeways.
So congratulations on your 100 miles, guys.  Hope no one gets doored into a bus for the sake of it.

Aside:  Because, like you probably do, I thought the artistic rendering of Napoleon Avenue lined with beach hotels from 1920s Atlantic City looked kind of weird, I found out that the image is generated by a generic design program called Streetmix.What's great about that is, if you don't like what the city has come up with, maybe you can play around with this app and make your own Napoleon Avenue. Sadly, I can't find the button that puts the crepe myrtles back.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Thanks for clarifying

Please make an adjustment to the style guide.  In the future, when referring to "whites" on the City Council, use the term, "preservationists."
The memo included several comments arguing that race may play a factor in divisions on the council and urged the groups to continue efforts to hire a black spokesperson to combat perceptions they are all-white organizations.

“This council, and I as council president, will not tolerate any clandestine attempt to marginalize any council member,” Council President Jason Williams said.

Several speakers at the meeting also made reference to Brylski’s memo, and a half-dozen residents sat in the back of the room holding signs supporting Ramsey, who thanked Williams, Gray and Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, all of whom spoke against the contents of the memo, for “being with me at this time.”

Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who also was discussed in the memo and who said she doesn’t know Brylski, took issue with the email’s assertion that she and Head feel “ ‘isolated’ as the ‘whites’ who are against development.”

“I would not think that,” Guidry said. “I would think that they would think Councilmember Head and I were preservationists.”
Also worth noting

Also too 


Crime quotes of the week

City Council summoned Police Chief Michael Harrison to a hearing today pretty much so that everyone could make a big public show of how concerned they are. They are concerned for our "soul."
The exchange brought little new information to light about the recent holdups. And council members struck a mostly supportive tone with Police Superintendent Michael Harrison. But it underscored the extent of public concern about an overall uptick in armed robbery.

“Crime at this point in our city’s history is threatening the soul of the city,” Council President Jason Williams said. “Safety and security are fundamental building blocks that are holding our city together and we thank you for the work you’ve done so far in that effort.”
"The exchange brought little new information to light," as it says in the above quote.  But I'm a little disappointed that some of the more fun quotes were left out of the Advocate's write up. For that you have to scroll through the live updates at Uptown Messenger where we find councilmembers asking about programs they seem not to know are already in place.
Councilman Brossett wants to know what incentives are in place to attract police officers. What about home ownership incentives? Brossett asks.

Banks offer low-interest loans to officers to buy homes in the city -- even approaching new recruits to pitch those programs, Harrison says. 
Then there's this exchange where it looks like LaToya Cantrell really really wants a helicopter. 
Cantrell asks if NOPD has a helicopter.

No, Harrison says.

How much would it cost? she asks.

Millions, Harrison says.

It can't cost that much, she says.

It's not just the cost of buying it -- the maintenance and pilot are also very expensive, Harrison says.

But police do have access to a helicopter when they need it, Harrison says.

Wouldn't it help with foot pursuits? Cantrell asks.

"Other police departments have and use one," Cantrell says.

Police cars are usually faster, because the helicopter has to come from a helipad, Harrison says.
Cantrell also thought maybe it would be a good idea to see if we could fight crime with bribery. 
What about other incentives? Cantrell asks. Could officers eat at restaurants for free, or get free massages at day spas?

She's just looking for ways to show them more "love," Cantrell says.

Unfortunately, those kinds of perks would be considered gifts that would run afoul of police ethics -- not necessarily against the law, Harrison says. 
But the best line probably has to go to Harrison who.. despite the lack of helicopters... is actually quite pleased with NOPD tech. 
The advanced technology, such as body cameras and other items, are also an incentive for prospective officers, he says.

"We're the James Bond of policing in America," Harrison says.
Well, okay.  It was a ridiculous day all around. Notably the best statement about crime in New Orleans actually came the day before outside of City Hall as council considered a new local hiring requirement for city contractors.  
Finalized or no, the move delighted dozens of activists who arrived to clamor for the ordinance’s passage, bearing bold-lettered #BlackWorkersMatter signs and shouting on City Hall’s steps before the council vote.

Bringing in the FBI will not solve the crime in New Orleans. Hiring more workers will solve the crime in New Orleans,” protester Divonite Almestica said.