-->

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Kabacoffia

I'm trying to envision a map of New Orleans with little internal borders drawn around the parts of town developed by the six or seven oligarchs.  It might entail some gerrymandering.  Here we see a proposed expansion of Kabacoffia.
Charity Hospital could be the heart of a new neighborhood by catering to the growing medical industry nearby and the increasing number of people living downtown, according to a proposal that developers HRI Properties submitted to the state Wednesday (July 1).

The 1930s-era former hospital, now vacant, could spur growth in the city's medical corridor and make New Orleans competitive with other medical district powerhouses in Houston and Birmingham, said HRI Properties vice president for development Josh Collen.
Kind of hard to draw a contiguous boundary around all of these... although it's also an incomplete inventory. 
HRI Properties, a New Orleans real estate company that works nationwide, often touts its focus and experience in so-called "adaptive reuse" projects renovating historic buildings. It includes the company's headquarters at the top of the former Hibernia Bank tower, which HRI converted into mixed-income apartments.

Other current HRI projects include a Homewood Suites and 40 penthouse apartments on one block of North Rampart along the new streetcar line and a renovation of the old office tower at 225 Baronne into an Aloft hotel and apartments. 

HRI is also partnering with the city in redeveloping the former Iberville public housing complex into a mixed-income, mixed-use community through renovations and new construction.
Anyway, if we were to imagine this was all of HRI's stuff, then the map of Kabacoffia would look sort of like this, I guess.


Meanwhile, in news from Torresville, the scribes are referring to the Duke as a humble "local entrepreneur." You know, like he's just starting out pushing a fruit cart or something. That's very quaint.

New New Orleans

Live music is out. Small plates are in.
It might seem like Mimi's, 2601 Royal St., gave up more than it received, its attorney Justin Schmidt said. But since the bar was first sued in Civil District Court in April 2013, Dykes revamped her business model, converting the upstairs space where bands and DJs played into more of a restaurant than a live music venue.

"Where before she depended on having live shows to draw people in there, she's actually getting more customers now without the live entertainment on a regular basis," Schmidt said. "To that extent, she really wasn't giving anything up. So this seemed like a no-brainer so far as a bargaining chip to get out of this whole thing."

More importantly, Dykes no longer has to operate under the strict sound restrictions the court imposed as a result of the lawsuit or fear that she could be shut down at any moment.

Something something something journalism ethics

It won't take more than a day to happen but thousands of professional reporters will defend ESPN's prerogative to tell its staff to shut up about Goodell already. There will be reasons. It's Olbermann so some of those reasons will be based in reality.  They will also be irrelevant.

The bottom line is this.  If the network exists to promote the multi-billion dollar professional athletics industry rather than.. you know.. report on it, then the people who work for that network aren't doing journalism. They are doing PR.

Meanwhile back at the not-at-all liberal Democratic Party

Nancy Pelosi doesn't want the banksters to worry.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagrees with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) notion that the Obama administration is too soft on Wall Street.

While Warren has been a vocal critic of how some of President Obama’s top lieutenants policing Wall Street have done their job, Pelosi cast her perspective as an outlier among her colleagues.

When asked in a CNBC interview if the president is too soft on Wall Street, Pelosi replied, “The financial industry doesn’t agree with that.

There may be a couple people who say that, but that is not the consensus in our party,” she added.

Warren has been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration on all things financial. She led the charge to scuttle a top Treasury Department nominee over his extensive ties to the financial sector, and earlier this month, she detailed her perceived failures in Mary Jo White, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Pelosi was quick to caution anyone from taking Warren’s argument and applying it to the entire Democratic Party.

“People will express themselves the way they do. That doesn’t mean they speak for the whole party,” she said.
 What the hell are they even any good for?

Meanwhile back at the not-at-all liberal SCOTUS

They're about to completely blow up public sector unions.

For decades, as private sector unionism has steadily diminished, public sector unions have grown. Traditionally, public sector unions have been easier to organize because the employer—federal, state, and local governments—is in a poor position to bust unions. The government cannot secretly spend millions on anti-union consultants, violate workers’ rights, and discipline or fire workers for their union sympathies. The result is that a third of public sector workers are currently members of a union, whereas only six percent of their private sector counterparts are similarly union members.

Now the Supreme Court has accepted for review a case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, brought by the rightwing Center for Individual Rights, that takes direct aim at public sector unions. In the case, a handful of California teachers argue that mandatory union fees violates their First Amendment rights. If successful, it would serve to sap union funds, further silence workers’ voices on the job and in the political arena, and would require unions to make radical changes to the ways they expend resources.



Honore out

Russel Honore just sent out a press release announcing he is not running for Governor.  Check your local media outlet in a few minutes for more commentary, I'm sure. The email is unnecessarily long but here's the key bit.
For those who have offered themselves as candidates for governor and the legislature, please keep in mind that public service means serving the public, honoring the public trust and putting the people before donors and special interests We need politicians who stand up and lead, not lay back and cash checks. We need to stop being stuck on stupid, stop believing that slash-and-burn business methods create jobs, stop believing that starvation wages are good for the people of Louisiana. We need to invest in ourselves, not out-of-state political donors. Louisiana belongs to Louisianans. We must take care of our own because it's our own who take care of Louisiana.

I want to continue to serve the people of Louisiana, as an advocate for the government we all deserve. . . but after nearly four decades as a loyal and proud soldier serving our country, after much thought and reflection over the past several weeks, I’ve concluded that I can best continue to serve the state I love by, not by becoming a politician and running for governor, but by working with the good people of Louisiana to reorder our political priorities and hold all of our elected officials accountable to the people they swear to serve. The coming elections represent a golden opportunity for all of us: an opportunity to hold our elected representatives accountable and demand that those seeking our votes propose real solutions to the big problems facing our state and its hard working families. And to hold them to their campaign promises.
Basically Honore is promising to stay out of the campaign but not promising to stay off of your TV talking about stuff.  So with that and Mitch Landrieu's continuing insistence that he's not in either, we might have a full dance card for this fall. 

Honore was a keynote speaker at Rising Tide 8 a few years ago just as speculation that he might become a candidate was beginning to form.  Here's that video. He was pretty entertaining.

Rising Tide 8 - Keynote - Lt. General Russel Honore from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#AskBobby about his Geek Appeal

Ted Cruz knows what the kids like to do with their internets. They like to trap him with sex.  Wait.. no, that's not right.  They like memes and stuff.  And Ted Cruz is really good at those. Just ask Ben Smith.
Smith added he was impressed with Cruz's chops.

"He's good at the Internet and approaches going viral like it's his job. He did these impressions like it was his job," he said. "He very briefly prepped with his staff and then just killed it."

As part of their collaborative approach to social media, BuzzFeed staff blasted out the video and the interview on Twitter throughout the afternoon, with @BuzzfeedNews declaring, "@TedCruz Knows How To Go Viral."

Two hours after the post went live, with 60,000 views on Facebook, Smith said it was too early to tell if the post would actually go viral.

"But it's definitely, like, totally delightful," Smith said.
The potentially viral thing in question there is a video of Cruz doing impressions of Simpsons characters. You can decide for yourself whether or not it is, "like, totally delightful."  But Buzzfeed is pretty insistent this indicates to us that Ted Cruz knows how to use the internet and that this is noteworthy.

A few years back, Gambit ran a cover story telling us much the same thing about Bobby Jindal.

At the core of this movement, if that's what it is, lies a generational shift that has anointed Jindal as its leader. Oddly enough, Jindal doesn't exactly fit into the Pearl Jam demographic that his campaign has so skillfully wooed with launches on YouTube, promises of "revolutionary reform" and video-editing contests. He may look like the runt of the gubernatorial litter, but Bobby Jindal has aged beyond his years.

This time around, Team Jindal is managed by a set of tight-fisted handlers; the candidate isn't the easygoing 32-year-old who granted all-access passes to the media in 2003. Today, it's all business. The new Bobby Jindal has been packaged, mass-marketed and slapped on a bumper sticker -- literally.

At the Mello Joy Café in Lafayette, Jindal is at least 30 minutes late, but no one seems to mind. To help pass the time and market their candidate, a group of young volunteers -- all on the Jindal campaign payroll and who seem to be in their 20s or early 30s -- sets up a table at the front entrance for supporters to pick up yard signs and choose from a wide selection of bumper stickers. Various stickers target farmers, veterans or sportsmen, while others have the themes and colors of Louisiana colleges and sports teams. LSU, UL-Lafayette and the New Orleans Saints asked Jindal to stop using their marks the same week as the Acadiana leg of his statewide bus tour. He granted their requests -- after supplies ran out. Still, the stickers remain a prime example of Jindal's cross-marketing. In contrast to the varied bumper stickers, Jindal's Internet campaign targets one group above all others: the 26-to-46 crowd. He has zeroed in on them better than any Louisiana politician before him, says Ann A. Fishman, president of the New Orleans-based Generational Targeted Marketing Corp. He has more than 500 digital friends on his MySpace page and another group on Facebook, a similar social networking site. There's also a horde of pictures online at Flickr and eight videos on YouTube, all edited with punchy music and quick cuts. The Web sites are connected to Jindal's campaign page, which likewise hosts a blog, RSS feeds and online donations. Georges is the only other candidate with such a formidable Web presence, but he was months behind Jindal in getting it online.

Jindal's youthful zeal plays to the demographic as well, right alongside his impassioned calls for reform. Earlier this summer, a conservative Web site started selling red T-shirts with Jindal's face superimposed over the head of Che Guevara, everybody's favorite South American Marxist.

"Pearl Jam demographic."  In 2007, that was a big thing. Anyway, see, Jindal had a "Geek Appeal" that used the power of MySpace and RSS feeds to sell Jindal Che T-shirts and also elect Bobby Jindal Governor. In other words, Bobby was the Ted Cruz of the internet of the time.

But today we are using the Internet of 2015 when nobody even knows what RSS stands for. (No one ever did, but shut up about that.) How is Bobby managing?

Not as well, apparently.
Someone on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s campaign staff had the brilliant idea of opening up a discussion between the Republican hopeful and Twitter. The result was a terrible idea, poorly executed.

"Someone" on Jindal's staff turns out to have been (probably) someone working for Believe Again, a SuperPAC affiliated with the Jindal campaign.  Some tweets to get the gist of that across:







There are other facts in that string. Believe Again is registered to Baton Rouge Busisness Report publisher Rolfe McCollister. McCollister was a Jindalista from the very beginning. He headed up Jindal's transition team in 2007 and remained close throughout Jindal's tenure as Governor. Bobby appointed him to the LSU Board of Supervisors, where he's done a bang-up job. Rolfe helped get Bobby the use of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for his prayer rally last year, for example.

But despite his background as a communications professional, McCollister must not have understood how easily a hashtag can get hijacked. Maybe the Jindal team needs to go back and work on its Geek Appeal some more.

On the other hand, we might consider that the real trick of the Internet of 2015 isn't so much about controlling a message as it is just plain getting attention. After all, that's practically Buzzfeed's founding principle.  Maybe Ted Cruz still has something to learn from these guys after all.

Let's build more nice things for rich people

Seems to be the winning strategy so far.
The property runs alongside the Lafitte Greenway, a bicycle trail set to open this summer. It edges up to the Mid-City Rouses on the lakeside and Bayou St. John on the riverside in between Conti and Toulouse streets

Early visions for redevelopment involve apartments and houses, retail shops, a gymnasium, café and boutique hotel. Proposed amenities include fire pits facing the bayou, playgrounds and bike paths.
In an interview Monday, Torres said the size of the tract caught the attention of the investor group. Partners in the deal include hotelier and developer Joe Jaeger and Hicham Khodr, owner of Camellia Grill and other New Orleans restaurants.

"Where else can you find nine-and-a-half consecutive acres of land in the city of New Orleans?" Torres asked. "It was a big deal."

Torres describes the Mid-City tract as a "blank canvas." He has a loose vision for the property. The lots closest to the bayou seem ideal for residential development, he said, and he wants to see small shops and a café along the greenway.
It's always fun when a developer talks about "blank slates" in New Orleans.  Also Hicham Khodr also owns pretty much every property on Magazine Street.  Jaeger, meanwhile, owns lots of things also... including this proposal to create a whole riverfront hotel and condo "district" using public money from the convention center.

It sure is a nice time to be a NOLA oligarch.  "Buy some dirt," Ray Nagin once told them.  Well, they're doing it. And they're building lots of nice things for rich people on top of it.  When do the nice things trickle down to the rest of us? Is that not part of the plan?

Update:  Take a close look at what's happening to London.

There are also effects beyond housing, although often driven by residential property prices. The spaces for work that are an essential part of the city’s economy are being squeezed, its high streets diminished, its pubs and other everyday places closing. It is suffering a form of entropy whereby the distinctive or special is converted into property values. Its essential qualities, which are that it was not polarised on the basis of income, and that its best places were common property, are being eroded. It is becoming the case that delights and beauties are available only at a high price.

This would matter less if the city were making new places with the qualities of those now packaged up and commodified – if the supply of good stuff were expanding – but it is not. Although the cranes swing, much of the new living zones now being created range from the ho-hum to the outright catastrophic. The skyline is being plundered for profit, but without creating towers to be proud of or making new neighbourhoods with any positive qualities whatsoever. If London is an enormous party, millions of people are on the wrong side of its velvet rope.
Is this what we want, guys? Because it's what we're tying to build.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Always give em something to vote against




You might not feel very enthusiastic about voting for any of the candidates for Governor, but does that mean you should stay home?  Hell no! It's always fun to go vote against someone. John Bel Edwards suggests go vote against John White.
Democrat John Bel Edwards said Sunday night that, if he is elected governor, he would oppose state Superintendent of Education John White remaining in his post.

“I have no intention of allowing John White, who isn’t qualified to be a middle school principal, to remain as superintendent when I am governor,” Edwards said in a prepared statement.

“We have so many highly qualified candidates right here in Louisiana that we don’t need to go looking in New York City for our next head of K-12 education,” he said.
Makes it even more fun since now you have some BESE members to vote against too. 

Too little too late

I don't doubt that an independent redistricting commission is constitutional.  I'm not sure it's the best way to deal with the gerrymandering problem, though. Certainly is not the most democratic way to handle it, anyway. Also.. horse is way way out of the barn.
Republicans employed an enormously successful strategy to take advantage of the 2010 census, first by winning state legislatures and then using that control to draw House districts to maximize their power. One measure of their success: In 2012, Republicans achieved a 33-seat majority in the House, even though GOP candidates as a group got 1.4 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents.

Independent commissions such as Arizona's "may be the only meaningful check" left to states that want to foster more competitive elections, the Obama administration said.

That Greek crisis people have been predicting for a few years is finally here



This is from Greek Prime Minsister Alexis Tsipras's speech calling for a referendum on the Troika bailout.
After five months of hard bargaining, our partners, unfortunately, issued at the Eurogroup the day before yesterday an ultimatum to Greek democracy and to the Greek people. An ultimatum that is contrary to the founding principles and values of Europe, the values of our common European project.

They asked the Greek government to accept a proposal that accumulates a new unsustainable burden on the Greek people and undermines the recovery of the Greek economy and society, a proposal that not only perpetuates the state of uncertainty but accentuates social inequalities even more.

Greek voters will make a choice between shitty economic times while they at least preserve their own democracy or shitty economic times with the added bonus of de-facto rule by international banksters.  What would you do?
Leaving a currency union is, however, a much harder and more frightening decision than never entering in the first place, and until now even the Continent’s most troubled economies have repeatedly stepped back from the brink. Again and again, governments have submitted to creditors’ demands for harsh austerity, while the European Central Bank has managed to contain market panic.

But the situation in Greece has now reached what looks like a point of no return. Banks are temporarily closed and the government has imposed capital controls — limits on the movement of funds out of the country. It seems highly likely that the government will soon have to start paying pensions and wages in scrip, in effect creating a parallel currency. And next week the country will hold a referendum on whether to accept the demands of the “troika” — the institutions representing creditor interests — for yet more austerity.

Greece should vote “no,” and the Greek government should be ready, if necessary, to leave the euro.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nobody actually lives here

Here's a site that maps local Airbnb listings and attempts to break down the data in ways that show their impact on the local housing market.
Airbnb hosts can list entire homes/apartments, private or shared rooms.
Depending on the room type, availability, and activity, an airbnb listing could be more like a hotel, disruptive for neighbors, taking away housing, and illegal.
The site's creator found that 67% of local Airbnb listings are for "entire home/apartment"  meaning those locations are more likely to be completely off the local rental market. Airbnb doesn't share data on actual rentals. So the owners of this site have taken some educated guesses based on the listing's minimum stay, price, and the number of reviews posted by customers.

That's not a perfect indicator of what's happening, but it's a decent starting point.  What it shows, generally, is that over 90% of local Airbnb listings are "highly available" most of the year for short term use and likely off the local rental market. It also suggests there are strong incentives for an unregulated market to swing toward more short term rather than long term rentals.  If we filter the data for landlords who are listing entire apartments on Airbnb as the property's primary use, we find an estimated monthly income of $2,348.  HUD calculates "fair market rent" for a one bedroom apartment in Orleans Parish at $767.

The site also reveals a trend toward individuals or companies who operate multiple Airbnb listings. Something like 42% of the Airbnb hosts in New Orleans have multiple listings ... sometimes in multiple cities.




Proponents of short-term rentals talk about their business in terms of what we've come to call the "sharing economy" where people rent out micro-units of their labor or their living space on an as-requested basis via the internet. This is problematic in and of itself, but we'll leave that for another time. (Here's Robert Reich on the subject if you're interested.) But from a branding standpoint, the image you're supposed to conjure is of a million little entrepreneurs scraping out some extra money on the side here and there.  But if the data we have available now is even remotely reliable, something very different is going on. Airbnb is not a tool of wealth creation. It is a means to further concentrate it.

Here's a quick and dirty analysis of the US housing market from Zero Hedge. They're looking at new home sales here. What they find is a kind of "recovery" for the investor class amid continuing disaster and displacement for "the rest of us."
Because while the US housing market suffered a depression-level collapse after the housing bubble burst in 2006, median new home prices had a modest dip and proceeded to levitate to new record highs without interruption until the last few months of 2014, when they hit an all time high of just over $300,000. Since then they have fallen to $282,800 but clearly they have a long way to go to match the implied supply/demand dynamics seen the last time housing sales were at this level. In fact, one can say that new home prices are about 3 times higher than where they should be to promote a housing recovery for "the rest of us" and not just Chinese "investors" and foreign oligarchs (who are buying existing homes anyway instead of new homes).

This also means that despite the "best efforts" of the Fed and the government to blow yet another housing bubble, this has proven far more difficult than reflating the stock bubble. And as a result of the failure of fiscal and monetary policy to trickle down to the common man, there is far less demand for new housing at these prices and hence, far less supply.

Until and unless prices tumble far more to where new homes are affordable for most, the unprecedented failure of new home sales to pick up in line with the general "recovery" will continue. It will also mean that most Americans will be destined for a life of renting instead of owning, something we already know courtesy of the latest homeownership rate plunging to multi-decade lows which means that rental prices across the US will continue rising to new record highs with every passing quarter.

That's a general look at what's happening across many different local markets. But the phenomenon of multiple properties being swept up by investors and converted to use as Airbnbs or vacation pieds a terre in New Orleans falls right in line with the pattern.   And that means, for most people, the rent is going to be too damn high for the forseeable future.
One in five renter households making $45,000-$75,000 a year are considered "cost-burdened," meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to Harvard's State of the Nation's Housing 2015 report.

In the country's most expensive cities -- like San Francisco, New York and Boston -- almost half of renters making $45,000-$75,000 annually face "disproportionately" high payments.

Rent prices have been rising faster than paychecks -- especially among the middle class. "Income growth for those folks has been especially weak," said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com.

As an increasing number of people are renting, vacancy rates have plummeted and rents are rising at twice as fast as overall inflation, according to the report.

According to the Data Center, 37% of Orleans Parish households were considered "severely cost burdened" in 2013. That's up from 24% in 2004.  The proliferation of short term rentals is in no way the sole cause of the problem. But it's clearly not helping.

It's important to remember, also, that the Airbnb data is not the entire picture. There are other players on the short-term rental market. Homeaway lists 917 available units in New Orleans. Here are 919 on VRBO. There are other sites. It's likely there are duplicate listings of properties across all of them. But it's good to note that as many short term rentals as there are listed on Airbnb, there are probably a significantly larger number of them operating.

If you're interested in confronting the housing crisis through local politics, the Airbnb problem seems like a good start. The first step would be getting elected people to take it seriously. Kalen Wright has been pursuing it for a few years now. The results have been slow.  She recounts some of this experience in a Humid City post this week.
I began asking Mayor Landrieu the following question at the District C Community Meeting in September of 2011:
In the French Quarter, one of the biggest threats to the residential base is the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals. What action will the city’s Administration take to stem this tide and enforce the laws on the books? This is a potential revenue stream for our cash-strapped city. These operations don’t pay the hotel/motel taxes and they undercut legitimate hotels and bed & breakfasts. They reduce the availability of rental units for people who wish to reside in this neighborhood.
At the District C Community Meeting in 2012, I repeated that question — word for word — and received an equally lackluster response.

In 2013, I briefly referenced the subject again, but instead of repeating the question noted, I chose to use that opportunity to address the mayor by advocating on behalf for the New Orleans Police Department’s budget, as it had become obvious by that time that addressing the issue of illegal short-term rentals was not a priority for our city’s administration.

Last week the city aborted an attempt at enforcing its prohibition against short term rentals under the vaguely implied threat of a lawsuit. Stacy Head is leading an effort to legalize the practice. An advocacy group of landlords led by former City Attorney Bob Ellis is pushing for legalization also.

It should be noted also that three council members own rental property themselves. Stacy Head owns at least six.
When asked by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune to disclose any financial interests in such properties, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey said she owned three rentals.

Council President Stacy Head did not respond to the question, but records show that there are at least six residential properties in the city that are owned by limited-liability companies associated with her or her husband, Jeremy Head.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry said she owns a single rental unit, which is on the property of her personal residence and would therefore be exempt from the requirements, according to a recent draft of the ordinance.
LaToya Cantrell is not a landlord and has been publicly vocal about gentrification concerns lately. At a recent public forum hosted by Tulane Hillel, Cantrell was asked about the Airbnb problem.  Unfortunately, her response, toward the end of the video here, was not encouraging. Cantrell more or less conceded the point that short term rentals are driving up rents.  But when it came to the possible policy response, she stressed the need for "balance" and reminded us that "we are a destination city."

We're still months away from seeing what a city ordinance on Airbnb might look like. But LaToya's comments strongly imply that so long as the tax revenue looks good, councilmembers don't care so much whether anybody actually lives here.

Update:  Stacy Head says she is close to introducing a new ordinance.  One thing she wants to do is use Airbnb permitting as an incentive to encourage rehabilitation of "blighted" property.  Funny how she imagines this working, though. 
One solution to the 10,000 blighted properties in the city could involve allowing people who purchase them and fix them up to fully rent them out to short-term tenants for several years, giving the neighborhoods they are in a chance to stabilize to the point where longer-term rentals are possible, Head said.
Brilliant. Head's idea is, let's put blighted property to work for Airbnb first and then maybe there is a "chance to stabilize to the point where longer-term rentals are possible."   No guarantee, of course. Meanwhile she sounds a lot more optimistic about the plan eventually leading to... more full time Airbnbs.
And that, in turn, could lead to a situation where it might be less of an issue to ease the restrictions on short-term rentals elsewhere in the city.

“There are so many blighted properties that if all of our efforts to get them into commerce were successful, it’s possible there would be a place for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals,” she said.
I still don't see anything  that directly deals with the problam of  the rent being too damn high to the point that nobody actually lives here.  But that's probably not the point of any of this.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who trolled it better?

These guys?





Or this jerk?


QOTD

Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal's measured, constitutionally sound response to today's Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell v Hodges gay marriage case.
"The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body," he told the crowd, as quoted by The Advocate newspaper. "If we want to save some money lets just get rid of the court."
"If we want to save some money?" Was that even the question, though?  Bobby, we're on marriage equality here. The money stuff ended when you signed the budget last week, remember? Besides, I don't think you can just line-item veto all of Article III of the constitution like it's some made up tax credit.

You'd think that a smart guy like Bobby who's spent so much time trying to be President would learn a few things about how the country runs.  It's really hard to "just get rid of" Supreme Court justices. Technically, Congress could impeach them but that's, like.. a whole thing. And it's never happened, anyway. (Once. It's happened once. Unsuccessfully.)  But you don't get to just fire them because you don't like the decisions they make. We know that's how it worked with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority but this different.  Is he sure he knows how this job works?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Should have built those levitating trains after all

The first day is always the toughest, Bobby.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, marking his first day on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate, was scheduled to appear on five morning cable shows Thursday.

But his campaign says mechanical problems on the plane he took to get to New Hampshire caused him to miss them all.

Hey I met EduShyster today

Just sort of barged in on an interview she was conducting at a coffee shop. Sorry about that.  But that's what happens when there are celebs in NOLA.  For me, this was sort of like running into Solange at the empanada place.

Here is a different interview she did with Andre Perry this week I wanted to link to, anyway.
Berkshire: One of the things I've noticed during my travels here is that much of the *fierce urgency* seems to have abated. Now you hear calls for patience from reform leaders. What would you like to see them have a fiercer sense of urgency about?

Perry: The muckety mucks of New Orleans had better acknowledge that racism in their own institutions exists. Conscious or unconscious--whatever you choose, I don't care--the result is that there is a lack of inclusion. When we talk about quality, for example, somehow diversity is never included in that conception of quality. It's OK to do all these other things in the name of quality but not hold yourself accountable for being a diverse institution. That's hypocrisy. If this is about finding like-minded people all the time, things will never change. If we're teaching our children anything, it's to show the example of us working with members of other communities. Our example is teaching the children the wrong lesson. The reality is, you can't have quality without diversity. Even from a simplistic political perspective, you don't get buy-in if your schools aren't diverse. Folks ultimately despise you. We have a dearth of Black teachers in the pipeline, and so we have to build capacity. That's the problem. We're not going to erase 40-50 years of educational neglect in a year, even if we really believe and close our eyes real tight. But we can train future teachers now, and commit to building the capacity of local folks at all levels, not just in the classroom.
Of course, it might have been a good idea to not use a disaster as an excuse to fire 7,000 experienced and mostly black teachers.  But even though Perry often sounds like he would agree there, he more often prefers we focus on "moving forward" or whatever.  It can be frustrating. This is a good discussion, though. Read the rest.

Nostalgia

1984. New Orleans. Warehouse District.
Twenty-five international exhibits introduced thousands to sushi (at the Japanese Pavilion) or an IMAX theater (the Canadian Pavilion). A 10-car monorail circulated overhead. A walk-though “Kid Wash” did for overheated humans what automated car washes do for cars.

There were nightly fireworks shows and dozens of places to eat and drink, with regular music-inspired silliness like the recurring mass “chicken dance” at a German beer garden.
Kinda pricey, though.

2015. New Orleans. Warehouse District.
As patios and outdoor dining areas proliferate across the downtown restaurant and bar scene, a new project taking shape will bring an indoor beer garden to the Warehouse District later this summer.

Tchoupitoulas Beer Garden is scheduled to open in mid-August at 840 Tchoupitoulas St. as a year-round, Oktoberfest-inspired drinking hall, with 22-ounce steins, brats and bar games among other features.

The address was previously the wine bar and restaurant Bouche, and the same owner, Joseph Logreco, is behind the new venture. But Tchoupitoulas Beer Garden is shaping up as a much different concept.

Modeled after traditional German beer gardens — though in this case under a roof — it will spread across some 4,400 square feet of brick-lined space, trimmed with Bavarian banners and awnings. There will be a pair of beer bars, a kitchen serving sausage, pretzels and other traditional German street food and seating at the sort of long, narrow picnic tables common to beer gardens.
I'm sure it won't be cheap either.  But you can pay in "tokens" for.. some reason.  Only thing missing is a monorail.  

Mission Accomplished

Re-imagineers develop the city they've always said they wanted.
The New Orleans metropolitan area is continuing to grow more diverse, with suburban parishes particularly seeing large increases in the size of their black and Hispanic communities in the years since Hurricane Katrina while the black population in Orleans Parish is shrinking, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Those shifts are largely in line with national demographic trends.

New Orleans’ black community is still 30 percent smaller than it was before the levees failed and is making up a slowly shrinking portion of the city’s population, according to the new estimates.

This week’s release is a follow-up to estimates earlier this year that found the region was still recovering some of the population it lost after Katrina, but that New Orleans and other parishes were no longer seeing the same dramatic growth rate as in the years after the storm as residents returned to their homes.

Those estimates put New Orleans’ population at 384,320, or about 79 percent of the population it had in 2000, and the seven-parish region at about 93.5 percent of its 2000 level.
Smaller, whiter, more compact. Housing sector dominated by part-time residents and tourism. It's easy to pretend it's a thing that just kinda happened. But, when the decision-makers are on record as saying this was the point it's a different story.

Also, if you grew up here, you will have inherently understood the political agenda... but it seems like almost nobody telling this story nowadays has that kind of experience.

What are Democrats even any good for?

I maintain my position that Bernie's campaign... and all of these attacks too.. is just so much party-orchestrated kabuki. But, if these are the limits of what's tolerated,especially during the same week in which Fast Track passed the Senate, I really don't understand what Democrats are even good for anymore.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keeping the brand out there

Whole Foods really is ripping you off.  At least, they are in New York
The city has launched a probe of Whole Foods Markets after investigators nabbed the upscale food purveyor for routinely overcharging customers on groceries during dozens of inspections dating back to at least 2010, the Daily News has learned.

The most recent spate of violations came during a sting operation the Department of Consumer Affairs conducted in the fall that specifically checked the accuracy of the weight marked on pre-packaged products.
This isn't new. Whole Foods was fined for similar violations last year  in California.

A couple of years ago, Whole Foods executives were a little bit worried that they were "diluting their brand" with a pilot program to expand into impoverished neighborhoods designated as so-called "food deserts" in New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit.

Really, what they were doing was taking advantage of federal Fresh Food Retailer Initiative grants in order to launch stores in rapidly gentrifying markets.  That's worked out well for them. And they've managed to keep the brand intact as well.

Memories

2008: The pros make some bold predictions.
Meanwhile, others around the country were talking him up. No less an aspiring kingmaker than Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist of McCain's failed presidential bid, sees Jindal as the Republican Party's destiny. "The question is not whether he'll be president, but when he'll be president, because he will be elected someday." The anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist believes, too, that Jindal is a certainty to occupy the White House, and conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh has described him as "the next Ronald Reagan."
Ok. 

Don't erase history, tell it better

Progress... sort of
Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city's complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor's office said.

"These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols -- statues, monuments, street names, and more -- still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world," a spokesman said in a statement. "Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future."
Oh dear that's probably not good. It looks like Mitch is leaning toward doing this exactly the wrong way.  I'm all for taking the general down but it's important that it be done right.  Replacing it with some vaguely positive civic advertisement isn't going to cut it.

The point of removing the statue is not to whitewash the ugly history that led to its appearance in the first place.  The point is to make a powerful counterargument.   If you take the Lee statue down and don't replace it with something that screams, "HEY GUESS WHAT FUCK WHITE SUPREMACY" then you might as well just leave it up.

Otherwise you really are "erasing history" as the crypto-Confederates opposed to the statue's removal are already alleging.  Not to go for too obvious a cliche here but Faulkner was right about history. It really is "not even past." In fact, it's harmful to think of it that way.  History is just more politics from a little bit further back.  We are still living it right now. We still have a say in how it gets told. 

I still think Plessy Circle sounds pretty good.

Storytime with Bobby Jindal

Duck for President

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin. Illustrations by Betsy Lewin. 2004.

What happens in this story is the duck doesn't want to do his chores on the farm so he runs for local office and wins. But he doesn't really want to do the work of that office either so he runs for Governor.  Of course he doesn't much care for doing that job either and.. well.. stop me if you've heard this story before.

In the end he lands a book deal so it all works out.. for him, anyway. We don't learn whether or not anyone got anything out of voting for him. Maybe that's beside the point, though. We're still figuring that part out.

Here's a video presentation of the read-aloud.



And here is a link to a series of creepy surveillance videos where we seem to be peeping in at the Jindal family as Bobby tells the kids a certain version of the same story.

"Macro-manager"

This is a pretty flattering Bobby Jindal profile in this morning's Advocate. 

Jindal has been described by State Treasurer John Kennedy as a macro-manager, someone who sets the broad overall policy, then relies on aides to carry out the details.

Though the two Republicans elected statewide agree on little, Jindal agrees with that description. His approach is wonkish, focusing on abstract policies, on numbers and charts instead of back slaps.

It’s also a style that has attracted much criticism from legislators and other elected officials who say he is out of touch. Unlike previous governors who parked themselves on the side galleries of legislative chambers, calling lawmakers over for a quick consult, Jindal made only one or two trips per session, and then only briefly. Legislators say they rarely speak directly with Jindal.

Kennedy said he hasn’t had a substantive conversation with Jindal in eight years. When the governor needed help passing a controversial college tuition tax credit bill, however, his then chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, asked the treasurer to call some legislators, Kennedy recalls.

And Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican who is officially in charge of the state when Jindal leaves on one of his many trips, says he’s never had the governor’s cellphone number.
Under certain circumstances, these sound like pretty good qualities in a boss. It almost makes you want to work for a guy like that.  In Jindal's case, though, it's not that he's a "hands-off" manager so much as he is very interested in limiting his own political liability. He's not empowering the people under him. He's making sure nobody blames him when they get caught screw up.

Besides, as we've seen, he can be very hands-on when he really wants to.  It's not the sort of management style that tends to inspire loyalty in those who get burned by it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Let's take the general down

Welcome to Brees Circle

It's time. It's way past time, really.
That (Confederate) flag, a symbol of hate and racism, doesn't fly over any government offices in New Orleans. But we still have many monuments to the Confederacy.

The most prominent one is certainly the statue to Robert E. Lee that towers over Lee Circle. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been talking about whether the Lee monument ought to have a future as New Orleans approaches its 300th birthday.

Here's what Landrieu's office said Monday afternoon: "Mayor Landrieu has discussed with 2018 Tricentennial Commission members how we can appropriately recognize our 300-year history as a city while also looking to the future and helping New Orleans become the city we always knew she could be. Part of this process should include a close examination of the historical symbols throughout our city and what changes could be made as we approach 2018, including the Robert E. Lee statute in Lee Circle. These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols – statues, monuments, street names, and more – still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world.  Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future."
If we are going to do this, though, it's important that we, unlike the Saints fans in the picture above, take it seriously.  Mitch already makes me nervous when he throws his Tricentennial fetish in there. If we take Lee down and replace him with some sort of generic piece of modern art and christen some boring "Tricentennial Circle"  that will almost make the thing not worth doing.

It's not enough to just take down the Confederate monument and sanitize the space with post-modern nonsense. We need to imbue it with an appropriate positive historical and cultural significance in equal measure to the negative image we are supplanting.  My first thought is to name it for Homer Plessy, though maybe you guys can come up with someone as deserving.

Just don't leave it up to Mitch Landrieu and his band of bland "New New Orleanians."  They'll either do something inappropriately benign or name it for some pastor they're all indebted to politically.

Robert C Blakes Dr

We can do better than that.

How's Bobby doing so far?

It's early. (Do you have your ticket to the big announcement yet?) But at this point in the process, Bobby is doing.. no worse than Jimmy Carter was in 1976.
“It’s wide open,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns from Teddy Kennedy to John Edwards. “There’s nobody running away with this thing. The last-place guy is within reach of the first-place guy.”

Jindal’s rise to the top from near nullity in 2003 is hardly the only time a politician has pulled that off, even on the vastly bigger scale of a presidential race. In 1976, a Georgia peanut farmer who had served a single term as governor, Jimmy Carter, emerged from near-obscurity to capture the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House.

Like Carter, Jindal comes from a Southern state without a large population or contributor base. And like Carter, Jindal is a born-again Christian whose religious convictions form a significant part of his political profile.
Realistically, Bobby Jindal's chances are pretty slim. But, as we keep saying, it's not because he isn't running exactly the right sort of campaign to be successful. Instead, his problem is that he's just too smarmy and phony even for a guy running for President.

Anyway, the Carter comparison is pretty interesting. A number of prominent consultants and pundits are asked to consider it in that article.  Carter was a pretty smarmy phony candidate back then too. (Here Thomas Frank compares the smarmy phoniness of  Carter and Obama.)  Not everyone remembers that far back or reads very much political history anymore but it's worth thinking about. 

Let us now sing the praises of local elites

That's what they're there for, right?




Did you ever know Latoya's hero is particularly proud of his relationship with BP?
There is something to be said for relationships in Louisiana. In the early years of my presidency at Xavier University, we had a vision for national expansion while remaining a major contributor in the New Orleans academic and civic communities. Our strategic approach included reaching out to build relationships with successful corporations to engage their collaboration and support. One of the early calls I made was to BP, and I was encouraged to find that it was eager to partner with us. That relationship began nearly 33 years ago and remains strong today!
If you want to be honored as a "hero" in New Orleans, it's hard to go wrong sucking up to money.

Walkability is a luxury

Today's Advocate throws a bone to "skeptics."
But skeptics, even those who acknowledge there are positives in the new systems, say the real story is that the government is simply throwing in the towel — admitting it can’t properly educate poor children, house their families or deliver them suitable health care — and jobbing the work out to private or semi-private contractors that may or may not do better but that are surely less accountable to the public.

“Certainly some would say that all three systems are much better than they were before,” said Bill Quigley, director of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University and an outspoken opponent of the changes. “But others would say, ‘I lost my house, I lost my school and I lost my clinic.’ ”

Quigley gives the theoretical example of a family who before Katrina lived in the Lafitte project, within walking distance of low-wage work in the tourist economy and also near their children’s school.

“If they’re back in New Orleans, they’re probably living in Section 8 or with relatives in New Orleans East, and who knows where their kids are going to school?” he said. “That’s a much tougher life than living within walking distance of school and work.”
This grand experiment in rebuilding New Orleans happened at the same time that elites decided, for the first time in decades, that they preferred "walkability" to suburban sprawl. They still didn't want to live around very many poor people, though, so they all had to be moved out of the way.

Russel says in that article that we are still waiting for" history to render its verdict on the changes" as if "history" is some disinterested impartial judge waiting to hand out currently unknowable answers.

What I've tried to say here over and over and over again, though, is that we already know the answer to the most important question. And that question is not so much, "does it work" as it is "whom does it work for?"
We could ask, "Is New Orleans today a more walkable city than it was before Katrina?" and reach no conclusion.  Or we could ask, is "walkability" more or less affordable and come to some definite answers.

Cost of living

Nobody can afford to live here anymore.
Residents, frustrated by the proliferation of short-term rentals in their neighborhoods, are growing increasingly vocal.

Timothy Eskew, who runs Bicycle Michael's in Faubourg Marigny, recently wrote an email to Landrieu and the city council to say that short-term rentals are pushing out locals by soaking up the available housing.

"The consequences are felt by small businesses," Eskew wrote. "We must raise prices and cut hours in order to increase the pay of core staff so they may retain residences. We hire fewer employees and are more likely to reduce staff during slower times of the year. We have had several staff members who worked here for over three years leave the city due to the lack of affordable housing."
Maybe the bike shop staff should all move out to Kenner and drive to work. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ok when?

Bobby Jindal doesn't think "the time is right" to talk about taking down the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina statehouse. 
Also speaking up for the Confederate flag: Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was asked about it by ABC News. Jindal indicated he thought flying the Confederate flag was a states' rights issue:


Look, the states decide that — and, again, just like with the gun issue, let's have that debate at the right time. I mean, right now we should all be in mourning. I think flags should be at half-mast, you know, across our states, across our country. Now's a time for mourning. 
Not sure when Bobby thinks the time might be right seeing as how they've been talking about it for decades already.
“It’s like getting political Ebola,” said David Woodard, a longtime Republican political consultant and professor of political science at Clemson University, of the Confederate flag issue. “Any time you touch it you’re going to make more enemies than friends.”

Woodard recalled the hard-fought battle in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the NAACP announced a boycott on tourism to the Palmetto State in protest of the flag and the issue became part of the national conversation during the Republican presidential primary between John McCain and George W. Bush.

Then-Gov. David Beasley lost reelection in 1998, in part because of his campaign to take down the Confederate flag, Woodard said.

“It was just a very, very tense situation, and you weren’t going to come up with a solution that was going to make everybody happy,” Woodard said.

Tens of thousands of people marched on the Capitol to protest the flag, and several thousand others from the Sons of Confederate Veterans stood on the statehouse steps — in uniform, Woodard said.

State Rep. Rick Quinn, who was the majority leader of the state House of Representatives at the time, said the fierce debate made for strange bedfellows: In an effort to stall a compromise, members of the black caucus who wanted to exorcise the flag from the Capitol grounds joined forces with lawmakers who refused to vote to have it removed from atop its dome.

After months of debate and a final marathon session, Republican leaders wrought the compromise that hard-liners on both sides had feared: The flags hanging on the dome and in each of the legislative chambers would be moved to the state museum, and a new one would be erected on a 30-foot flagpole at the Confederate war memorial outside the statehouse.

But any other changes to the monument — or any other in the state — would require the two-thirds vote, and South Carolina does not have a robust voter referendum system, so a ballot initiative could not overturn the law.
Fifteen years ago they decided the time wasn't right to do away the flag. Just needed some time for "the healing" to happen.  Did the healing happen?

Job-killin'

The screeching over Jindal's decision not to veto a modest cap on film production tax credits is almost as bad as the garment rending over the drilling moratorium a few years ago.  

The cap will last three years. During those three years a LOT of money ($180 million per year) will be spent on giveaways to movie productions. Then it will sunset and even more money will be spent on it.  The movie industry isn't the big loser in that deal. The underfunded universities and hospitals still are.

But... we're rich, right?

They keep telling us Tourism Matters! and tourism is doing really well right now and we're pulling down all that sweet moolah.   
Money collected from the New Orleans hotel occupancy tax is on pace to reach a five-year high, totaling more than $43 million so far this fiscal year. Healthy travel growth means tax revenues could continue to rise next year and beyond.

So where did all the money go?
Three years after purging nearly a third of his lawyers amid a steep budget shortfall, Orleans Parish Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton has told his staff that a new round of stiff cuts — lengthy furloughs, possibly layoffs or some combination — is coming.

Bunton put his austerity plan on paper last week, alerting the City Council, the mayor, judges and Sheriff Marlin Gusman that it “will likely cause serious delays in the courts and potential constitutional crises for our criminal justice system in New Orleans if no solution is reached timely.”

Bunton said he would institute a hiring freeze beginning July 1, the start of a new fiscal year in which he says he’s facing a $1 million shortfall from the current year’s budget of about $6 million.
Oh wait. Nevermind. We only get to use the tourism-generated revenue to pay for promoting more tourism.  
The 13 percent hotel occupancy sales tax is collected on hotel stays in Orleans Parish. Revenues are split six ways.

The bulk -- 8 cents -- goes to the Louisiana Sports and Exposition District and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The LSED oversees the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Smoothie King Arena.

The City of New Orleans and Orleans Parish School Board each get 1.5 cents for every dollar. The remaining 2 cents are split between the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Regional Transit Authority.

Because, you know, Tourism Matters!
 

Friday, June 19, 2015

QOTD

Bobby Jindal signed the budget today.  He vetoed some items.  One of those was a 1.5 percent cost of living increase in retirement benefits for former state employees.  This has lead to some upset feelings.
"I've had enough of this governor," said Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley, who was instrumental in getting a bill passed that would have granted a 1.5 percent benefit increase to workers on July 1. "If I had any indication that this is what he would have done, I would have crashed his budget."

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Sam Jones of Franklin, said a veto threat had hung over the bill for much of the session. But he was nonetheless vitriolic in his condemnation of Jindal, saying he is "the most deceitful, hateful governor I've seen in my lifetime.

"Whatever his burning hatred is for state employees and teachers, I guess on his way to Iowa he had to stick his finger at them at one more time," Jones said.
They make some noise in that article about calling an override session but that's never happened and isn't likely to. 

More details about Jindal's vetoes are coming in here here here and here so far.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bizarro World is real life

Occasional reminder that FOX News is, by a wide stretch, the most watched and relied upon source for the vast majority of Americans. So instead of laughing at the crazy upside down way they present events like Wednesday's shooting in Charleston, maybe start to take seriously the fact that.. for most people.. that's what's really going on out there. Maybe that isn't a comforting thought, but it's what we need to deal with.

Tonight on The Nightly Show (a much less viewed news program on Comedy Central) Larry Wilmore made an offhanded comment about how young the Charleston shooter was.  "People keep saying racism is just gonna go away when all the old racists die off..." or something like that.  But, aside from the fact that demographics is not destiny in politics, it's a good idea to notice that "the kids today" are just as racist as they ever were.

So Wilmore's observation shouldn't be some big shock. But it comes as one to a lot of so-called liberals who, most of the time, prefer to wallow in their own smugness than to take realistic stock of what's happening around them. Pay attention to what the wingnuts actually believe. Take them seriously. Because as comforting as it is for many of you to feel superior, there are a lot more of them than there are of you.

Stop assuming everything will be okay because of the "arc of history bends toward justice." It doesn't.  At least not on its own. Just sitting around waiting for it to is a kind of magical thinking almost as bad as the belief that "the free market" or "big data" will solve all of our problems.  In fact, one could best describe the political center at the moment as the intersection of futurism, capitalism, and a passive optimism that social problems work themselves out on their own.

These are dangerous times. The times are always dangerous, really. But we seem to be getting better and better at fooling ourselves into applying exactly the wrong remedy or ignoring the danger altogether.  It's almost been a year since Ferguson. The white backlash has only begun to gain momentum. The time to start noticing is now because 2016 could be a much uglier election year than we've seen in quite a while.

Shaping up with the competent mob

Team Rita/Team Gayle

Everyone please turn your medallions to Team Gayle.
Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson has prevailed in his mental competency trial, according to his lawyers.

In December and January, Benson fired his daughter, Renee; and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, as employees and announced that he no longer wanted them to have anything to do with the various businesses he owns in Louisiana and Texas or to inherit the businesses when he dies. The twice-widowed Benson alleged they had proved to be incompetent and that they had treated his third Gayle rudely.

Gayle Benson is now in line to assume control of her husband’s businesses upon his death.

Renee, Rita and Ryan fired back by filing a lawsuit seeking to have the 87-year-old Benson declared mentally incompetent to make such a decision. The relatives also alleged that Gayle Benson had manipulated her husband and exerted undue influence on him before he effectively cut them out of his life.

But Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ruled in favor of Benson in the matter, his lawyers said.
 Was pretty much in the bag as soon as Donald Trump explained his net worth on TV the other day
I HAVE ASSETS, BIG ACCOUNTING FIRM, ONE OF THE MOST HIGHLY RESPECTED, $9,240,000,000. [APPLAUSE] AND I HAVE LIABILITIES OF ABOUT $500 -- THAT'S LONG-TERM DEBT, VERY LOW INTEREST RATES. IN FACT, ONE OF THE BIG BANKS CAME TO TO ME, SAID, DONALD CAN, YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH BORROWINGS. COULD WE LOAN YOU $4 BILLION? I SAID, I DON'T NEED IT. I DON'T WANT IT. I'VE BEEN THERE. I DON'T IT. BUT IN TWO SECONDS THEY'D GIVE ME WHATEVER I WANTED. AND NOW WITH THE INCREASE, IT'LL BE WELL OVER $10 BILLION. BUT HERE A TOTAL NET WORTH OF $8
So, by that reckoning, it would take eight Tom Bensons to make even one Donald Trump.  And we let Trump roam free and do stuff like run for President (sort of.) So clearly Benson can keep owning some sports teams.  

QOTD


More

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a sweeping environmental manifesto aimed at spurring concrete action, Pope Francis called Thursday for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he described as a "structurally perverse" economic system where the rich exploit the poor, turning Earth into an "immense pile of filth." 

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives took another step toward granting the President "fast track" authority in negotiating a set of international trade deals guaranteed to further weaken the defense of the fragile the world over.

So it's a day of high contrasts.

This should be fun. 
The encyclical "Laudato Si," (Praise Be) is 191 pages of pure Francis.

It's a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm, including in the U.S. Congress, where Francis will deliver the first-ever papal address in September. It has already put several U.S. presidential candidates on the hot seat since some Republicans, Catholics among them, doubt the science behind global warming and have said the pope should stay out of the debate.
Which Republican will shout "You lie!" at the Pope?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Everything was shit until Mitch Landrieu got to be mayor

Like, even the celebrated local landmarks were all screwed up because nobody knew what they were doing until now.  
Gallier Hall will undergo a $15 million renovation to shore up its crumbling façade and freshen up its interior, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday.

The city and state will kick in about $10 million to renovate the building’s exterior. Landrieu, meanwhile, has assembled a committee — chaired by his wife, Cheryl Landrieu — to raise $5 million to pay for interior improvements such as restoring chandeliers and renovating restrooms.

“When it’s finished, this ought to be restored to its original luster,” Landrieu said. “It’ll be a symbol for our 300th anniversary (in 2018) of what the city should look like had we done it right the first time.”
 
At least that's what I think this says. Gallier Hall wasn't "done right the first time" but now Mitch will fix it.

The business model

It all goes out the window once you have to treat people as employees just because they're doing all the work for you.

A San Francisco-based driver for smartphone-based ride-hailing service Uber is an employee, not a contractor, according to a ruling by the California Labor Commission.

The ruling, filed on Tuesday in state court in San Francisco, was the latest in a host of legal and regulatory challenges facing Uber and other highly valued start-ups in the United States and other countries.

The commission said Uber is "involved in every aspect of the operation."

Classifying Uber drivers as employees opens the company up to considerably higher costs, including Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. That could affect its valuation, currently above $40 billion, and the valuation of other companies that rely on large networks of individuals to provide rides, clean houses and other services.
Uber, of course, insists that it's merely an app.  All these drivers are just using the service as independent contractors. Other than that, the company doesn't have anything to do with them or their business.
Uber has landed in hot water before for tracking the movements of passengers without their permission. But what about tracking its own drivers? Obviously, the company needs to do that in order to know where drivers are in real time so that it can supply rides. According to the Wall Street Journal, though, this past weekend in Hangzhou, Uber found another use for that GPS data: scaring drivers into staying away from a protest over its service:
In two short messages sent to Uber drivers in Hangzhou and circulated online—verified with Uber in China by The Wall Street Journal—Uber urged its drivers not to go the scene and instructed those already there to leave immediately. Uber said it would use GPS to identify drivers that had refused to leave the location and cancel its contracts with them. The messages said Uber’s actions were designed to “maintain social order.”
Well.. okay.. sure. Somebody's got to "maintain social order." What better use can you think of for an app, really

Quality of life issues

Nothing good ever happens on Fulton Street.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin recently received 50 stitches after being struck with a champagne bottle at a Central Business District club earlier this month.

Police are actively investigating the matter and have not yet made an arrest. Griffin’s lawyer, Justin Reese, said Griffin was a victim of assault and battery and did nothing to prompt the attack.

“It was a very unfortunate incident,” Reese said.

The incident occurred at Apres Lounge on Fulton Street at 1:50 a.m. June 7, according to police. Griffin bumped into some men in the bar and was then struck over the head with a bottle, causing facial lacerations.
Mostly nuisance bars down there. Someone should alert the neighborhood association.

Wagon Train

Public Service Commissioner, Blue Heron Award honoree, and long time Friend of Bobby, Scott Angelle is running for Governor. You might have seen his advertisements displayed on one of the many viewing screens in your life.  Here's one of them now. Angelle tells us about the "wagon" of state, who is pulling it, who is riding in it and how that should go, ideally.



When I saw this, I was sure I had seen it before.




Jindal is using "carts" instead of "wagons" in that version. But he's talking about Europe so it must have something to do with cart being a  metric unit. Anyway he's used this image lots before.  This was brought to our attention a few months ago when Oyster pointed it out.

He only mentioned it then because I had noticed someone else throwing it around.

Bernie Sanders is not actually running for President

I often think Chris Hedges is over the top. But this is basically what I've been saying about the Sanders campaign so here you go.  
The voices of those who matter will not be heard in these elections. The marginalized and poor in our internal colonies, the 2.3 million people in our prisons and their families, the Muslims we persecute here and in the Middle East, and the suffering of the working poor are airbrushed out of the discussion. In this Potemkin America there is only a middle class. Our liberties, including our right to privacy, along with the consent of the governed—all of which have been taken from us—are held up in this electioneering farce as sacred and inviolate. We are assured that we live in a functioning democracy. We are promised that our voice will count. And even Sanders will tell you no different. If he stepped forward and spoke the truth, especially about the Democratic Party, he would be banned from the debates, vilified and crushed by the Democratic establishment, stripped of his Senate committee chairmanships and tossed into the political wilderness to which Ralph Nader has been exiled. Sanders, unfortunately, lacks Nader’s moral fortitude. He will, when it is all done, push his followers into the vampire-like embrace of Hillary Clinton. He is a Pied Piper leading a line of children or rats—take your pick—into political oblivion. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sobriety Thursday is back

We think it's Thursday, anyway. These always happen on Thursday for some reason.  Except when NOPD doesn't know what day Thursday actually is.. which does happen.

NEW ORLEANS - The NOPD Traffic Division along with the assistance of the Louisiana State Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2015, to 5:00 a.m. on Friday, June 18, 2015

Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have the proper documentation available if requested, i.e., proof of insurance, driver’s license, etc.  
Thursday this week is actually June 18. Anyway, drive carefully.