Monday, April 30, 2012


Recently the creationist assholes in the Louisiana Legislature voted to maintain the backwards law that enshrines creationism in the public school science curriculum.

Baton Rouge -- Senators refused Thursday to get rid of a Louisiana law that allows public school science teachers to use supplemental materials in their classrooms in addition to state-approved textbooks. The science teachers and students pushing repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act said it creates a way for teachers to challenge evolution and teach creationism in classrooms.

Dambala has collected some video highlights of these assholes in action.

Meanwhile in other news of assholery:
The Tennessee Legislature on Friday sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk that, according to the Tennessean, would require sex-ed classes to “exclusively and emphatically” promote abstinence and ban teachers and outside groups from promoting “gateway sexual activity.”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Loomis outsmarted me

As the draft began again today, I sat down and made a list of the Top 10 Most Amusing Names Still Available. It looked like this.

  • Marvin McNutt -WR -Iowa
  • Sean Cattouse - FS - Cal
  • Dan Trevethan - LB - Kenutucky
  • Tim Fugger DE - Vandy
  • Eddie McClam - DE- Old Domnion
  • Joe Looney -G - Wake Forest
  • Johnnie Troutman - G- Penn St
  • Fozzy Whittaker - RB - Texas
  • Chandler Harnish - QB - Northern Illinois

And the number one most amusing name still available: Jordan Jefferson - QB - LSU

And yet Loomis managed to find one I had missed.
The New Orleans Saints selected Wisconsin receiver Nick Toon, son of former NFL player Al Toon, at pick No. 122, which was their second pick coming in the fourth round.

Nick Toon. Some of my favorite Nick Toons are Blue's Clues, Invader Zim, and, of course Spongebob. Of course, all of that is a little bit after my time. My generation of Nick Toons was all about Pinwheel and Dangermouse. You know, the classics.

Speaking of generation gaps, this means the Saints now have the sons of Steve Jordan, Mark Ingram, and Al Toon on the team. When did NFL scouting become so much about blood lines?


There is apparently still something like a "Democratic Party" in Louisiana.

"Regina?" is the new "Hofstra?"

Shortly after his secret message from Sean Payton self-destructed last night, Mickey Loomis went all the way to some school in Canada to make the Saints' first selection in this year's NFL Draft.
They didn't select a household name, going north of the boarder to draft Regina (Canada) defensive tackle Akiem Hicks in the third round with pick No. 89.

That may seem unusual but it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that Saints scouts spent some time in Canada this year where we understand the Mountee hunting is pretty good. Anyway what was Hicks doing up there?
In 2009, Hicks transferred to LSU from Sacramento City Community College as one of the top junior college defensive tackles in the nation. But Hicks was mired in a minor recruiting violation and never got to play at LSU. The school discovered potential violations associated with impermissible telephone calls to Hicks in the recruitment process, impermissible transportation before and after his arrival at LSU, impermissible housing and reduced-rent at an apartment complex in Baton Rouge in the three months before his enrollment at LSU, and the purchase of one meal by a football office student worker.

See now it makes sense. The Saints went with Hicks because they knew his experience having been dicked over by the bullying hypocrites at the NCAA would allow him to step right in to a team being dicked over by the bullying hypocrites in the NFL.

Anyway more NFL Draft to come today and the Saints have several picks. Jordan Jefferson is still available!

Viva la Bandit Sign

Red Light Bandit Sign

Friday, April 27, 2012

Your obligatory Friday afternoon bombshell

This week's comes to us from the LSU Board of Supervisors who just voted to fire system president John Lombardi.

Critics say Lombardi has not worked well with the governor, the Legislature and his chancellors. Former president William Jenkins was named interim president of the system while a nationwide search for a permanent replacement is found.
Not saying I know what the right thing to do here was but isn't "not working well with the governor" kind of a plus given the budget fights over the past few years?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Look out, NFL

Here comes Evil Morstead

Did we ever really buck the trend?

According to this Calculated Risk graph, the Louisiana unemployment rate is near the middle of the pack nationally and was also near the middle of the pack during the height of the recession.

I would like my Kickstarter money now, please

Inspired by this "awareness raising" house razing Marigny Ball Pit project, I've decided to apply for my own grant. Behold the Uptown Brick Pit

Bricked up

The best thing about it is the work is already done. The hole is already in place since 2010. It's already full of bricks and other crap.  Much like the Marigny Ball Pit, this project also "raises awareness" of blight or potholes or something.

About that awkward moment: It came toward the end of our conversation when I asked if there was a larger point to building a ball pit in a blighted house. "Raising awareness," he said.
Of what? "Blight."

And, see, I told him, that's the problem, that's what sometimes sets people's teeth on edge — you don't think people in New Orleans are aware of blight, and have been aware of blight long before you came here?

He said he saw the point, and added that he was constructing his ball pit "for the community," and that he welcomed suggestions or drop-bys from anyone who wanted to help or contribute ideas. So there's your invitation.

Note that the Uptown Brick Pit is also "for the community"  At one point, I even turned it into a fun game for people trying to toss litter into it from passing cars.

 Sinkhole target game

All I need now is my grant money.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zoning out

Some neighborhoods are already rebelling against the Hospitality Zone CityBiz:
The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association is asking Sen. Ed Murray to adjust the borders of a proposed Hospitality and Entertainment District to exclude the Marigny. Frenchmen Street, the neighborhood’s prime tourist attraction, is currently included in the proposal for a sweeping zone in which new hotel and food-beverage taxes would be controlled by a board largely composed of hospitality industry executives and the mayor.

Ciber stalking

Points for chutzpah, anyway.
After Ciber ripped off the City of NO and the state of Pennsylvania (Turnpike scandal) they cleaned house, culling the dirty agents off their payroll. But fear not, Mr. Burns is back in business and going right back to the scene of the crime....New Orleans.

Millard Fillmore

Quote of the Day:
Democrats find another kind of unity in the debt fight, as the president betrays them. “The president is the worst negotiator who has ever owned that title!” says California Rep. Dennis Cardoza to Pelosi. “I didn’t know Millard Fillmore, but… he’s the worst. He doesn’t know how to do this.” Pelosi’s response: “Yeah, but he doesn’t think so.”

Nobody told me Kirsha Kaechele was back in town

Kickstarter proposal to turn house into free, but gross, amusement.

This is how Bobby bucks the trend

He just kind of shrugs it off.

 Must be some sort of exorcism ritual. Either that or he's expecting another helicopter full of federal stimulus checks he can fly around the state delivering. If so, I hope he isn't planning to vote for Mitt. Mitt hates helicopters full of stimulus checks.

Or maybe he's expecting Mitt's helicopter to swoop in and take him away from all of this to be VP... although that seems highly unlikely.  Anyway that's probably for the best.  Riding on the roof of a helicopter doesn't sound very comfortable.

"Unspoken" Rules Of NOLA Political Coverage or Why We aren't "In"

At first glance, it's a relief. It's a relief to see that despite the rain, the tall ships, and the general not giving a fuck around town, turnout at least managed to bump up a bit from the dismal 18% of the primary.

With all 366 precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed Head with 27,787 votes to 27,506 for Willard-Lewis. About 23.5 percent of the city's 235,553 registered voters went to the polls, significantly more than in the primary, although there were no other items on the ballot.

And yet 55,293 people is a pretty lame crowd. If the Saints are ever drawing that, Tom Benson might up and move them to San Antonio... or run off and buy a basketball team or something. So maybe we're not exactly In when it comes to our most preferred spectator sport of local politics these days.

The problem could be that the storyline isn't all that compelling. Or maybe it's just that the T-P keeps trying to write the same boring script.

She appeared to have survived a racially charged contest against former Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis by the narrowest of margins.

Was this really a "racially charged" election? Just the assertion that it was, in fact, "charged" with anything at all strains credulity. But leaving that aside, let's look at the evidence supplied in Sunday's re-cap.

The two Democrats waged a spirited runoff battle focused in part on the so-called "unspoken rule" that for three decades kept the two at-large council seats divided between white and African-American politicians.

The tradition of racial balance in the seats ended in 2007, when Jackie Clarkson, who is white, was elected after Oliver Thomas, who like Willard-Lewis is black, resigned after admitting he took a bribe. Fielkow, the other incumbent at the time, also is white.

For an "unspoken rule" the T-P's political reporters sure do an awful lot of speaking about it. In fact, they haven't been able to shut up about it ever since the unspoken rule was tossed away after Oliver Thomas' departure. Two election cycles later, we're still reading about it as if it's the law of the land.

One side note here. A proposed reform would divide candidates in future At-Large elections into two separate races for either seat. If this comes to pass will future candidates conform to the "unspoken" rule by self-segregating themselves into white and black At-Large races? If not maybe then we can stop un-speaking about this business.

But whatever you think of the "unspoken rule" it alone doesn't mean that this election was "racially charged"... at least not any more or less than any citywide election might be. Race is obviously a factor in local politics. But it isn't so neatly divided from context the way the T-P's handling of it would indicate. Let's look again at Michelle Krupa and Frank Donze's Sunday re-cap article.

During the campaign Willard-Lewis kept the issue of racial balance in the forefront, saying it is important that all segments of the community feel "they have access and that their voices will be welcome, respected and heard."

Head countered that voters are more concerned about which candidate is "going to work hard for their neighborhood, who's going to make sure that the delivery of governmental services is as good as it possibly can be. That's far more important than race."

What a fascinating way to frame those quotes. Here we have each candidate saying equally bland things. Cynthia says it's important for everyone to "have access" and "be heard." Head "counters" this by saying "delivery of governmental services" is "far more important than race." It's a mild exchange that obliquely touches on a debate about whether the question of for whom government services are working is as important as how well they are working. Does that question have a racial element to it? Certainly. Does the article attempt to explain this at all? Nope.

Instead the reporters keep the focus on how "racially charged" all of this is. In their version of the story, Willard-Lewis' having "kept the issue of racial balance in the forefront" was a troublesome matter necessitating a "counter" from Head. Even if we are to accept the dubious premise that this election was any more "racially charged" than is typically seen in New Orleans politics, we are given no means of understanding why race might be a relevant matter. It's lightly implied that the alleged racial charge is probably a bad thing... and that it's mostly Cynthia's fault... but that's all we get.

Willard-Lewis targeted black voters with a pair of radio ads, including one featuring New Orleans native Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and civil-rights leader. He told listeners: "If you don't have somebody representing you in public office, you really don't get your share."

The other ad, which suggested Head was trying to buy the election, urged voters to send her a message that "the vote that our parents and grandparents fought and died for is not for sale, nor will it ever be."

In her TV ads, Head featured a range of residents -- black and white, male and female -- with each supporter praising her ability to get things done.

See, Cynthia "targeted black voters" by having Andrew Young say something pretty elemental about representative government. Meanwhile Head "featured a range of residents" who talked about how she can "get things done." What things are getting done? Head's supporters typically cite her office's responsiveness  regarding things like individual permitting and zoning hang-ups. If you own a business or a (well maintained) piece of property in District B, Stacy Head is probably your pal. She gets things done. For you, anyway. Just don't ever say she's "targeting" your vote, though. 

Recently, Head voted with her targeted constituency against an ordinance that helps ensure contractors the city is doing business with are in compliance with state and federal labor standards.The law was put forward by interim At-Large Councilman Eric Granderson as a response to widespread complaints of wage theft in New Orleans; a cause taken up by Arnie Fielkow who Granderson replaced on the council.  As a result of the special election, Head will now fill that seat.

In Willard-Lewis' ads, when Ambassador Young says, "If you don't have somebody representing you in public office, you really don't get your share,"  he's talking to people like the exploited day laborers Head voted against. When Willard-Lewis says "it is important that all segments of the community feel 'they have access and that their voices will be welcome, respected and heard,'" this is what she's talking about.  But when Times-Picayune  reporters reduce these points to mere racial dog whistling they divorce the campaign from any sense of its actual impact on people's lives.

Whenever we talk about issues of economic status and political power, of course race is going to factor into that discussion.  But it's going to do that in complicated ways our political reporters don't usually want to unpack. Instead they make a perverse parlor game of  isolating race from any meaningful context and then making that de-contextualized extraction the sole focus of their election coverage.

And this is, of course, topped off by tut-tutting at one or both of the candidates for allowing this completely manufactured bullshit to "racially charge" the campaign in the first place. In this election, the brunt of the blame for having "kept the issue of racial balance in the forefront" as Krupa and Donze put it, fell on Willard-Lewis.

Just look at this lede from Donze's report on a WVUE debate between Head and CWL. The debate ranged on a number of topics but Donze picked this.
It seemed like a good bet that, as the African-American candidate in the April 21 runoff for an at-large New Orleans City Council seat, former state Sen. Cynthia Willard-Lewis would be the first to broach the subject of the council's white majority. But in the contest's first face-to-face, post-primary meeting, it was her challenger, Stacy Head, one of the council's four white members, who tackled the thorny issue, albeit indirectly.
Translation: "It seemed like a good bet" that nasty Cynthia would  titillate us offend our sensitive hearts with the race baiting no-no we all came to shake our fingers at but that didn't work out and we were starting to get bored so here's what our rabbit ears picked up "indirectly."

Oh by the way, here's the tackling of "the thorny issue" Donze is referring to.  Prepare to have your mind blown.
The discussion of race during their appearance Monday on WVUE-TV was triggered when Willard-Lewis asked Head whether she was supporting President Barack Obama's re-election in light of the "significant Republican support" she has in the race.
Ok quick fact check time.  Does Stacy Head enjoy "significant Republican support"?  Why indeed she does! It's maybe a little cheap but still understandable that CWL might want to see if she can exploit that given the President's overwhelming popularity in Orleans Parish. It's unclear, however, exactly why this is a "thorny" or even "indirectly" racial issue as Donze suggests.  Anyway here's Head's response.
"So, I think that President Obama has been one of the greatest leaders for the country because he's a man who doesn't look like me," Head said. "But he represents my interests."
And, you know, she's right. The President who is bringing us legalized stock fraud under the Orwellian guise of "Job creation" does indeed represent the interests of people like Ms. Head. But that digression aside, does the side-issue of either candidate's opinion of the President really merit front-and-center attention in an article about a municipal election?  If it's kind of "indirectly" related to race a little bit, it apparently does. Even so, how does such a silly, weak bank shot bring us to describe the entire debate with this headline?
New Orleans City Council candidates touch on race
Probably the same way we got

New Orleans council primary plays out along racial lines


New Orleans City Council runoff may be test of trends in the city's racial politics


New Orleans City Council endorsement appears to have racial component 

There were a lot of these throughout the campaign often with an "appears to" or a "may be" or a "touch on" forced in to connect "City Council" and "race" one way or another. If this election was "racially charged" at all, it acquired this charge as a result of the static generated by the T-P (usually Donze) constantly rubbing those words together.

And more often than not, the recipient of the T-P's racial static was Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Even as she was receiving her "crossover" endorsement from the Mayor, Donze managed to describe it as a sly and underhanded "racially charged" move.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu never made direct reference to the touchy subject of the New Orleans City Council's white majority Thursday as he endorsed former Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis in the April 21 runoff to fill an at-large seat on the city's legislative panel. But it was clear by what he did say that the thorny issue of race was a key factor in his decision to choose Willard-Lewis, who is black, over her white opponent, Councilwoman Stacy Head.
Oh good another "indirect" reference to "the thorny issue." Want to read it?
"I need someone who's going to be a partner with me to represent all of the people of the city of New Orleans," Landrieu said to a cheering crowd of more than 100 gathered at the New Orleans Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue.
Did you miss it? Well you see Mitch says he's looking for someone to "represent all the people of the city of New Orleans" which, in Donze's interpretation, must "indirectly" mean something racial. Evidently there's something about the word "all" that Donze takes as exclusionary. Recall that when Donze and Krupa compared these two statements,
During the campaign Willard-Lewis kept the issue of racial balance in the forefront, saying it is important that all segments of the community feel "they have access and that their voices will be welcome, respected and heard." Head countered that voters are more concerned about which candidate is "going to work hard for their neighborhood, who's going to make sure that the delivery of governmental services is as good as it possibly can be. That's far more important than race."
They judged Head's to be the more racially inclusive for some reason. Without Donze and Krupa around to read the tea leaves for us, we would have guessed that Mitch was endorsing Cynthia partially as repayment for her having "crossed racial lines" to back his 2006 campaign against Ray Nagin* and also probably as a slap at Head who has bucked his administration from time to time since he has become Mayor. But apparently there's this "racially charged" thing the Mayor and Ms. Willard-Lewis keep trying to force on us. And we might have missed that without the benefit of the Times-Picayune's political team.

Similarly, we would have thought that Austin Badon's subsequent endorsement of Head was an act of political payback. Badon had the backing of the Morrell family during the primary in part because the Morrells have been enemies of Ms. Willard-Lewis as of late. It's also possible that Badon (like President Obama) simply shares Head's interests since we know Badon to be an outspoken supporter of Governor Jindal's scheme to privatize elementary and secondary education in Louisiana.

But when the endorsement actually happened, Krupa included none of this in her account.  Instead we got a handicapping of the racial subtext she had read into it for us.

New Orleans voters split along racial lines in the March 24 primary, with Head, who is white, claiming 96 percent of votes cast by whites and Willard-Lewis and Badon, who are black, taking 95 percent of the votes cast by blacks, an analysis by University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak shows.
Whether Badon's supporters again will vote along racial lines or cast a vote against Willard-Lewis or stay home altogether will be a critical factor for Saturday's victor.

Later, when Badon actually spoke, he didn't mention race at all.
"I want someone who speaks with quality and not quantity," Badon told a roomful of Head supporters.
"I don't want a 'yes' woman on the City Council. New Orleans doesn't need someone who is just going to put their stamp of approval on issues without proper evaluation. I want someone who is analytical. I want someone who is going to bring all of the department heads to the table and ask the tough questions."
We would have expected Donze to delve into this statement and pull out the "indirect" means by which Badon was actually beating around the "thorny issue" of race.  But for some reason, that never happened.  Maybe it's because we're already supposed to assume it always "seems like a good bet" that only Willard-Lewis' camp engages in the racial subterfuge.

When the T-P excludes all context other than race, their framing lines up this way. Either the voters will "vote along racial lines" and support Cynthia, or overcome this presumed flaw in their character to support Head. Meanwhile Head gets to go right on pretending that her choice of management over labor, or of property owners over renters is really a forward-thinking focus on "service" and Willard-Lewis' rhetoric about "all segments of the community" getting their "voices heard" amounts to some sort of nefarious racial code talk.

Maybe in another 30 years when Head finally grows up to be Jackie Clarkson, our gentle reporters will have to change gears and start covering for her in more of an aw-shucks-that's-our-good-old-buffoon fashion but, man, that is a long time to wait.

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that the political team at the T-P would apply their powers of induction to conclude from the results that they were right all along.

Willard-Lewis, who is black, picked up only about 5 percent of the non-African-American votes on a day when white turnout nearly doubled black participation, according to the analysis.
"Turnout and crossover vote were the keys for Head's victory," Chervenak said Sunday.
In his review, Chervenak found that turnout in precincts where 90 percent or more of the registered voters are white was 30.3 percent, compared with 16.8 percent in precincts containing 90 percent or more black voters.
While those heavily African-American precincts contain 32,000 more voters, Chervenak said there were less than 300 more votes cast in those areas than in the heavily white precincts.
Bridging the racial divide was seen as the likeliest path to success for either candidate in what quickly developed into a racially charged battle.

See? This election really was "racially charged" but somehow  the forces of ... um... light prevailed due to the "bridging of the divide" or something.

This analysis, including its "Stacy Head's New Orleans City Council victory credited to turnout, black vote" headline is terribly misleading. Technically, the headline is true. But it's only true if we read it as "Stacy Head's victory credited to (low) turnout and (somewhat divided but mostly disengaged) black vote" As written, however, it might imply to the casual headline glancer that Ms. Head benefited from a heavy black turnout.

That isn't very likely, of course. But even the argument Donze is trying to make; that Head won by virtue of picking up a small but decisive percentage of a dismal black turnout; is masked by his attempt to characterize this as some noble "bridge the racial divide" moment. Had a mere 282 more Cynthia voters (less than one per precinct, as Clancy DuBos told us repeatedly) decided to slog through the rain that day, would we be reading today about the "bridging of the divide"? Or would Donze tell us, instead, that those 282 voters had rushed upon us in a loathsome "racial charge"?

Is there a way to explain these results without talking about the racial component? No, of course not. But if you're going to say, on the one hand, that the election was strictly about race, it's unfair to interpret one candidate's victory as a rejection of racial politics. Especially if the numbers don't bear that out.

Among the joys of post-election handicapping these days are Brian Denzer's Pac-Man maps. This one (PDF) shows us the precinct-level vote share along with the intensity of the turnout. It was picked up by The Lens this week along with the following analysis from Denzer.

“Stacy Head received an average 26 percent turnout in precincts that she won, compared to 17 percent turnout in precincts that Cynthia Willard-Lewis won,” Denzer said.
He also said that based on his analysis, Head won only eight precincts that were majority black, compared to Willard-Lewis, who won 215 majority-black precincts.
“In a city that is 60 percent African-American…and in a contest which heavily favored Cynthia Willard-Lewis by voters’ racial preferences, the deciding factor was the overwhelming turnout for Stacy Head compared to Cynthia Willard-Lewis — and even then, the vote returns coming in all night showed a very close contest that was ultimately won by only 281 votes,” Denzer said.
Overall turnout was around 24%. Clancy (see above) thinks that's pretty good. Maybe he means it's "indirectly" good since it's higher than it was in the primary but I think it sucks.  This was a war of attrition where Head benefited from strong turnout in her base precincts, particularly in Lakeview and along the Carrollton and St. Charles Avenue corridors Uptown. Turnout among Willard-Lewis' base precincts in the East was OK but tepid compared to what Head was able to muster. 

Stacy Head eked out a slim slim victory from among less than a quarter of all registered voters because her supporters, though small in number, were more enthusiastic than her opponent's. We could speculate as to whether or not Head's supporters were more racially charged up than Cynthia's but, unlike the T-P, I don't really buy that race is what defined this election.  It's far more correct to say that apathy did.

And that's hardly surprising given all the bullshit about race taking precedence in the narrative. When voters are given little if any opportunity to learn what either an election might actually be about.  Is it any wonder so few of them find it worth their time to be "In" for it?

 *The 2006 Mayoral election was, in fact, quite "racially charged."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

That's funny, the ones in the Hospitality Zone all seem to work fine

Viva Veolia!
Why are stop ID signs not at all major stops and why are so many of the new bus location monitors already broken or out of sync? I live near St. Bernard and Broad, a major RTA destination.There's a stop ID sign at the St. Bernard bus stop, but not across the street at the Broad bus stop; there are bus location monitors at both stops, but the one at the St. Bernard stop has been broken longer than it worked and the one at the Broad bus stop was first out of sync, now frozen—a joke among riders. I called RTA's automated line to get stop times for the Broad bus, but had to dial "0" for the operator since there was no stop ID sign. Dialed "0," was disconnected. Tried again, same thing. Called back, said "zero," rang, was disconnected. Tried again, same thing. Called back, cursed at the automated system instead of saying "zero," was looked at like a psycho, but felt better.

Louisiana Hayride

Starting to get the feeling the 2010-2012 Saints are Dick Leche to the 2006-2009 Saints' Huey Long.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stacy Wins

Capture the fricking (pre-recount) magic.

Quick and dirty Stacy victory pros and cons.

Pro: She will continue to be a pain in Mitch's ass which, while not exactly helpful, is exceedingly gratifying to watch.

Con: Head is a friendly public servant to constituents who have made it a little bit but is inordinately contemptuous of those who haven't.

Pro: The two year old sinkhole outside my apartment is more likely to get fixed now.

I will probably be evicted from my apartment so some asshole can build a pilates studio.

Note that, had Cyntia won, I could have drawn up a pro/con list that would have looked very nearly this dismal.

Anyway, much fallout to come.

I'm wondering now if, given the low turnout, Mitch's endorsement may have actually hurt Cynthia more than helping as it likely energized just enough of Head's base to put her over the top.

I'm also wondering what happens now in District B. Do we call another special election to fill out the rest of Head's term? Wouldn't it likely coincide with the Presidential election in November? The winner would serve for about a year.

Also Head holds this At Large seat now until 2014. Do we then run this race all over again?

Go vote

Yes, it's raining. And, of course, the candidates suck. But that's no excuse to tell them they're not accountable to anyone, which is what you're doing if you stay home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fred Heebe is officially above the law

U.S. Attorney's Office recuses itself from River Birch-related cases

Knowing how the gossip galley works around here it might be a while before we get to this point so I'll say it up front. This is about more than just Perricone. Fred Heebe has tentacles all over the Jefferson and Orleans Parish media and political classes including the US Attorney's office. Hell, Fred Heebe at one time very nearly was the US Attorney.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hospitality zoned

Tom Benson's empire just sucked up $7 million meant for flood victims.

Unsurprising news item of the day

Attempt to repeal Louisiana's creationism law fails in committee.

Liar's Tale

Slate finds Leon Cannizzaro operating in the grand Orleans DA tradition of suppressing exculpatory evidence and cutting improper deals with witnesses.

That’s Leon Cannizzaro, who became the DA for New Orleans in 2009. Joseph Allen, who’d also testified at Tucker’s trial that he had no expectation of leniency, got a deal, too, on his perjury charge and was released. Because of the deals, Cohen asked for a new trial for Jamaal Tucker. The judge ordered Cannizzaro and the prosecutor who tried Tucker, Eusi Phillips, to appear before him to explain themselves. On the eve of his date in court, Cannizzaro agreed to toss Tucker’s murder conviction. And his office turned over to Cohen a piece of evidence the defense had never seen before: A letter from Greene to Phillips. Greene wrote that he wanted Crime Stopper reward money for testifying against Tucker and that he wanted his time cut. He said, “I know that as far as getting my time cut, you can’t make any promises before the trial, but I am entitled to the reward.”

In a letter to the editor published in the Times Picayune, Cannizzaro denied withholding evidence against Tucker or two other defendants whose lawyers have made that claim. “My office has railroaded no one,” he wrote.

As a prelude to announcing sentences for the police officers convicted in the Danziger shootings and cover-up, Judge Kurt Englehardt delivered a lecture to prosecutors on the inquisitorial practice of coercing witnesses upon which they had built much of their case.

Last week, Engelhardt filed into the record a 61-page order that hewed closely to his speech but included a few new digs, mostly in footnotes.

For example, he took aim at Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, writing that Perez "glibly responded" to some of Engelhardt's criticisms after the sentencing by saying prosecutors can't pick witnesses at a "witness store."

Engelhardt added in the footnote that the cooperating defendants were "purchased, bought and paid for" with more lenient sentences. "Mr. Perez's comment misses the point," Engelhardt concluded.

In the next footnote, he wrote that the media "frequently misquoted" a statement he made "in a materially incorrect way."

Engelhardt wrote that he actually said: "Using liars lying to convict liars is no way to pursue justice." He explained that in some instances, the quotation attributed to him in news accounts failed to include the verb "lying." (The Times-Picayune's account did not include the word "lying.") His statement, he wrote, reflected his concerns about whether government witnesses had an incentive to lie.

Note that while Engelhardt is clearly perturbed with our Inquisitors' actions, this didn't appear to mitigate the heavy sentences he imposed on the lying police officers convicted by their lying associates.

James Gill seems to think this is really all about the bind judges are put in by mandatory minimum sentence law. And he has a point but I think it is a side point. I'm more interested in the fact I've highlighted in Gill's column below.

There was no suggestion that innocent men had gotten a bum rap here, but rather the reverse. Engelhardt complains that the cops who pleaded guilty got off too lightly.

Engelhardt had no choice but to impose draconian sentences on defendants who elected to fight the charges, while higher-ranking officers testified for the government under deals that gave them derisory stretches for equally, or more, heinous offenses.

The law that produces such skewed outcomes, according to Engelhardt, is the same one that coerces guilty pleas.

The Danziger result, however deserved, just happens to fall upon the officers at the bottom of the NOPD totem poll. Meanwhile, DAs like Cannizzaro and DOJ preeners like Jim Letten habitually use their inquisitorial powers to convict liars using liars but the only occasion on which this practice elicits a dressing down from the judge comes about because the "victims" (if you can call them that) happen to be cops. Engelhardt doesn't inform us of a better way to "pursue justice" and I suspect this is because we don't actually experience much of that within the confines of the legal system we've built. We do, however, daily experience the pursuit and consequences of power which is the true determinant of our judicial winners and losers although we do like to pretend otherwise.

Don't taze me, Stacy

Stacy Head:
"If I had a Taser, a ticket book, and a bulldozer, I know I could solve most of my problems in District B, and I don't have any of them."

Head is, of course, employing hyperbole here to express just how gung-ho she is about improving the city's responsiveness with regard to code enforcement.

Since Hurricane Katrina, few departments at New Orleans City Hall have been busier than Code Enforcement, which inspects blighted properties, and Safety and Permits, which authorizes construction projects and enforces zoning rules. So City Council members on Monday wanted to know why a single administrator has been overseeing both offices since last summer and why that official, Pura Bascos, couldn't answer questions posed six weeks ago about city demolition programs.

Doing "more with less" has long been this administration's battle cry so it's difficult to see why anyone would be surprised that these departments have been de-facto combined.

Anyway during a time when New Orleans residents are living in fear of a brutal untrusted police department, are nickeled and dimed by draconian parking enforcement policy, are seeing their credit ratings held hostage by a hated traffic camera shakedown scheme, and are, 7 years after the flood, still being victimized by an abandon-and-demolish hazard mitigation edifice, it's telling that Ms. Head states outright her enthusiasm for governing via torture device, petty citation, and demolition implement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Junkaroos and Movearoos

Of course the redevelopment of the Iberville means that a $710,850 contract goes to a company operated by Byron Lee. What else did you expect?

We should just name them the Pelicans and get on with it

Adrastos and I have spoken.

And as Alex Woodward ably demonstrates here, nobody has any better ideas.

In New Orleans we call this "bucking the trend"

On the heels of Tom Friedman having been named the "One True Wanker Of The Decade" by Atrios, Tom Tomorrow reminds us of the time he fact-checked a Friedman column about how we're all about to get rich selling clever T-shirts to one another.
Look, my argument is obviously not, as Friedman interprets it, that "Americans are not innovative"--it is that selling novelty t-shirts is not a replacement for a decent paying job with health benefits.
Of course it could be that these rules don't apply inside the Hospitality Zone where Stephen Perry will have dominion over the elemental forces of nature or something. Or... you know... maybe not.


Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known".

The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP's disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.

Not to worry, of course. As soon as Mayor Landrieu's Hospitality Zone plan is up and running, NOTMC and NOCVB can advertise all of these problems away for us.

At least they can until Geauxjira shows up. Then more drastic measures may have to be taken.

Update: And if Geuxjira doesn't get you, maybe one of these blue creatures from the lagoon will.

The persistence of Corexit mixed with crude oil has now weathered to tar, yet is traceable to BP's Deepwater Horizon brew through its chemical fingerprint. The mix creates a fluorescent signature visible under UV light. From the report:

The program uses newly developed UV light equipment to detect tar product and reveal where it is buried in many beach areas and also where it still remains on the surface in the shoreline plunge step area. The tar product samples are then analyzed…to determine which toxins may be present and at what concentrations. By returning to locations several times over the past year and analyzing samples, we've been able to determine that PAH concentrations in most locations are not degrading as hoped for and expected.

Worse, the toxins in this unholy mix of Corexit and crude actually penetrate wet skin faster than dry skin (photos above)—the author describes it as the equivalent of a built-in accelerant—though you'd never know it unless you happened to look under fluorescent light in the 370nm spectrum. The stuff can't be wiped off. It's absorbed into the skin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hoarding coins in the competition zone

The Coliseum Square Association met last night to discuss the possibility that perhaps one day their neighborhood might be annexed by the Hospitality Zone.

A proposal to place a swath of downtown New Orleans under a new appointed board with the power to levy taxes drew the attention of the Coliseum Square Association on Monday night, based on the possibility that the “hospitality zone” could easily be expanded into Uptown.

The "Zone" would be governed by an unelected board of business owners with the power to tax residents in order to hire security, sanitation, and advertising for their businesses. It is understood that the Zone could be expanded should the board of business owners decide that any other parts of town are particularly desirable to them. Places like Coliseum Square, for example, might fit that bill. At one time, it was considered America's "hippest" neighborhood, you know.

Finally, there’s a strong possibility that the city will reduce the amount of services it provides in the “hospitality zone,” letting the new taxes pick up the slack — instead of increasing services as they were intended to do.

“We’d prefer we all have a lot more time to review this, because it’s creating a new government structure for the city,” (VCPORA Executive Director Meg) Lousteau said, noting that the idea usurps some authority and responsibility from the City Council.

That doesn't sound good. Naturally residents living in potentially Zoned-in neighborhoods are going to be wary of such a coup d'etat. Of course some of them might just welcome their new tourist-focused overlords. It's at least implied here that we should have some confidence in their "wisdom" anyway.
After the meeting, (CS Association President Robert) Wolf said that the “devil is in the details” when it comes to the plan’s merits, especially if the zone could move up St. Charles Avenue. Ensuring that money is invested wisely in tourist areas is important, but the burden on downtown residents should be carefully considered, he said.

Update: And now, please, see also Dambala who has much more on this business.

Time for a leadership change

Athenae asks what is probably the only relevant question regarding the Secret Service Colombia episode and it is this,

How the fuck do you get caught hiring a hooker in fucking Colombia?

Doesn't inspire the utmost confidence in the people charged with the President's security, does it? Maybe it's time to clean house over there. Put someone in charge who knows how to do this stuff right. Senator Vitter, for example, would be a nice "post-partisan" sort of appointment. Or maybe someone from the now shuttered Minerals Management Service. Those people knew how to party.

Monday, April 16, 2012

NOLA moonshot idea

Tom Benson is 84 years old. Is there time for us to figure a way to subsidize a Major League Baseball and/or National Hockey League team for him to profit from for at least one season before he dies? I know that sounds like a daunting project but I'm sure if we all are "in" we can "fan up" and make New Orleans the most hospitable zone in the country for sports entertainment welfare for millionaires programs of the sort that Mr. Benson has long thrived on. Yes, we've already basically ceded the area bordered by Loyola Avenue, Poydras Street, Claiborne Avenue, and the Pontchartrain Expressway over to the Benson Empire, but is that really be best we can do? Surely we owe him this one last kindness.

This is especially so in light of today's announcement that the NBA will bring its All Star Game back to New Orleans in 2014. During today's press conference, the Mayor was on hand to remind us of the crucial "economic impact" of hosting these periodic traveling circuses. Now that the NBA has committed another All Star Game some of us have already begun scouring Craigslist in search of the next exciting guerrilla marketing opportunity sure to come with it.

But while we're reaping these *ahem* bounties, let's not forget that we have Tom Benson to thank for that. Or.. maybe we do. Anyway, he's located very near to the boon so certainly he deserves some credit for it right? At least as much as he does for the Saints having.. eventually.. won a Superbowl while he was near them.

Meanwhile the real upshot of all this is that Mr. Benson has afforded us the opportunity to now play our favorite parlor game of Re-brand The Team in earnest. Recall that we got off to a rather slow start with this business a few weeks ago. Of the names on that list, I'm still partial to The New Orleans Basketball Reasons, although I could be persuaded to go with Buccaneers or even Pelicans in the interest of stoking the nostalgia market. As long as the teal is out, I'm pretty much "in".

Of course it was

Bobby Jindal's education plan praised in Wall Street Journal

You say that as if it means something anymore.



Anyway, you see where this is going.

Bobby Jindal's education "reform" package represents a $1.9 billion per fiscal year dumping of state resources from public schools into an academically unaccountable labyrinth of private and quasi private institutions with openly discriminatory admissions policies. In essence, it de-funds public education and invests that money in segregation. Of course such a scheme is going to be "praised" in the Wall Street Journal.


Any number of game titles would fit here, I guess, but that one is particularly fun. Maybe Angry Birds would also have been appropriate.

For a new generation of young guns, the experience of piloting a drone is not unlike the video games they grew up on. Unlike traditional pilots, who physically fly their payloads to a target, drone operators kill at the touch of a button, without ever leaving their base – a remove that only serves to further desensitize the taking of human life. (The military slang for a man killed by a drone strike is "bug splat," since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.) As drone pilot Lt. Col. Matt Martin recounts in his book Predator, operating a drone is "almost like playing the computer game Civilization" – something straight out of "a sci-fi novel." After one mission, in which he navigated a drone to target a technical college being occupied by insurgents in Iraq, Martin felt "electrified" and "adrenalized," exulting that "we had shot the technical college full of holes, destroying large portions of it and killing only God knew how many people."

Only later did the reality of what he had done sink in. "I had yet to realize the horror," Martin recalls.

Update: Also, they can be used for texting.

Pay to play is here

Kicking you off the internet
While the dispute between content delivery networks may appear relatively minor to some, it is actually indicative of a broader fight over the free and open Internet. The brewing dispute between cable providers and Netflix, along with many bandwidth intensive services, is leading to a “Balkanization” of the Internet, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Corporations like Apple, Facebook and Comcast could force greater separation between the open Internet and so-called “walled gardens” where private networks operate based upon their own set of rules and away from the prying eyes of search engines.

But that’s just the beginning: governments, Brin said, are looking to put down popular uprisings driven by widespread Internet access, and they’re becoming increasingly successful at “put[ting] the genie back in the bottle.” Much like China, Iran and, increasingly, the U.S., other countries are also looking at harsh domestic Internet regulations, and even radical “solutions” like national networks that only connect to certain websites or services.

“I am more worried than I have been in the past,” Brin said. “It’s scary.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Verizon bill is due

I hope they can use it to pay off their staggering federal tax burden of.... negative 3.8%?

At least we can rest assured they'll be reinvesting all that extra cash in their business. Not in building better infrastructure, of course. The major ISPs stopped doing that a long time ago. Now they mostly invest in lobbying their friends in government to more tightly control what you can do on the internet.. or just kick you off altogether.

Also they spend some of their resources dreaming up new onerous fees for you to pay and, of course, fighting net neutrality in the interest of, you know, "free market competition" or whatever.

It'll be interesting, then, to see just how they react to this sort of free market competition.

Nicholas Merrill is planning to revolutionize online privacy with a concept as simple as it is ingenious: a telecommunications provider designed from its inception to shield its customers from surveillance.

Merrill, 39, who previously ran a New York-based Internet provider, told CNET that he's raising funds to launch a national "non-profit telecommunications provider dedicated to privacy, using ubiquitous encryption" that will sell mobile phone service and, for as little as $20 a month, Internet connectivity.

The ISP would not merely employ every technological means at its disposal, including encryption and limited logging, to protect its customers. It would also -- and in practice this is likely more important -- challenge government surveillance demands of dubious legality or constitutionality.

Won't get very far. The emerging internet belongs to Hollywood and the big telecoms.

Awkward quote of the day

Tom Benson on preparing to buy the Hornets

When I was on the phone with Governor Jindal, telling him what I was going to do, I thought he was coming through the phone to kiss me.

Also, this is a terrible terrible article. It's Pete Finney so it doesn't really count. But the collective Benson ass-kissing on the part of the rest of the local media is nothing short of shameful this week. One can't help but wonder if they're all scrambling to impress the owner of WVUE-TV since he's a potential future employer.

The big po-boy reveal

Brett Anderson's long hard roast beef slog has concluded with a "Top 10" list of sandwiches I have never tried. (Parasol's is on the list but I haven't been there since the ownership change.) The winner is R&O's where I've had the pizza but not the roast beef. So at the end of this investigation, I feel strangely left out. The pictures are pretty, at least.

Friday, April 13, 2012

More free money for Tom Benson

So after months and months of hearing about the NBA's very serious nationwide search for a suitable investor willing to keep the Hornets in New Orleans, we find out what they've ultimately come up with is.... Tom Benson.

Maybe they did it for "basketball reasons." Or maybe they decided Benson was exactly the man they were looking for all along. Who better than Benson has understood Ray Nagin's advice that "there's money to be made in a storm"? He hasn't even had to actually "buy some dirt" as Nagin once encouraged other disaster profiteers to do. Instead he's mostly had it given to him at great taxpayer expense. Pretty nice gig if you can get it.

Benson's first instinct was to leverage the flood of 2005 as an excuse to execute his already in the works plan to remove the Saints to San Antonio. But that was shut down after much arm twisting by an NFL uncharacteristically sensitive to shame.

Sometimes the decisions we're forced into making are the luckiest ones, though. Benson went on to benefit from the ferocious love for the Saints exhibited by the recovering city he had no faith in. He now enjoys a package of concessions from the taxpayers of Louisiana more lucrative than what he had hoped for prior to the flood. When the Hornets signed a new lease that includes state funded stadium enhancements, is it any surprise Benson would want in on that?

Free money from the state is Tom Benson's business. He has long understood the importance of protecting that business. The importance of being "the only game" in a small market has been a point of emphasis in Benson's talks to other NFL owners. He has taken aggressive steps to protect his monopoly in the past. When the creation of the Colorado Rockies displaced the AAA Denver Zephyrs in 1993, Benson scrambled to prevent the Zs from relocating into his territory.
In 1993, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a Major League Baseball franchise. That meant their AAA team, the Denver Zephyrs (named after the legendary “Denver Zephyr” streamline passenger train), had to leave town. New Orleans attorney Rob Couhig formed and led a partnership to bring the Zephyrs to New Orleans. The team became embroiled in a legal battle before they even played their first game, though. Saints owner Benson acquired a AA-level team, and wanted to re-locate them to the city, reviving the name Pelicans. Major League Baseball did not approve this move, because the relocation of the higher-league Zephyrs trumped the AA team. Benson unsuccessfully sued MLB and the Zephyrs in attempt to further his claim to baseball in the city. Benson did not relinquish the name Pelicans to the AAA team, but “Zephyrs” worked just fine, because that was the name of the big wooden roller coaster ridden by generations of New Orleanians out at the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park.

The arrival of major league competition in the form of the Hornets has never sat well with Benson. And now he has managed to eliminate that competition. The consensus in the local media today is that this is "good news" for fans. But Benson also owns a big piece of the local media market himself these days so forgive me if I'm less enthusiastic than his current and prospective employees.

On the other hand, maybe that much needed "re-branding" of the NBA franchise we've been whispering about can finally happen. Does Benson still own the name "Pelicans"?

Tom Benson's team takes on the Utah (DAMMIT) Jazz tonight at 7:00PM in the New Orleans Arena.

Mitt Landrieu

Just like his near namesake Mitt, Mitch also enjoys being able to fire people.

Upon taking office nearly two years ago, Landrieu vowed to overhaul the civil service system, which he has decried as antiquated. Then last spring, he outlined a plan in which the administration intended to "release" city employees and hire them back into newly defined positions.

While these changes are being discussed, Mitch doesn't care much for the public getting access to public meetings.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to make an audio or video recording of a meeting, or broadcast it live, would have to "register his/her identity and affiliation" with the personnel director an hour before the meeting starts "for the purpose of being assigned a position" in the room, though anyone who fails to do so would get a chance to comply before being kicked out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Which Benson would you prefer?


New York - By the time NBA Commissioner David Stern closes the second day of the league’s Board of Governors meeting at New York’s St. Regis Hotel on Friday, the New Orleans Hornets could have a new owner.

It appears the league might be ready to choose between an offer from a group headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal that will include former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest, and a bid from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.

Or Larry?

Sources close to the Bhathal group, which also included Larry Benson, Tom Benson’s youngest brother and represented in ongoing negotiations by former NBA player, coach and executive Mike Dunleavy, said Bhathal and Chouest met in New York on Monday with league officials, and possibly with Stern, while Benson reportedly also spoke with the NBA on Monday but was not in New York.

At least we know it isn't likely either would try to move the team to San Antonio.


I'm finding this post a few days late but I knew this Gambit blog transit series had potential. This week's edition takes us on the Broad Street line and does not disappoint.
Although I informed the bus driver I was doing something for work and although the RTA's Photo and Video Policy states, "Here at the New Orleans RTA, we are proud of our city and our transit system. You are welcome to take pictures and video of the system and of the sights you see when riding it," the driver still fussed at me, asking, "Do [sic] the R-uhTA know about this? I don't wanna get in trouble," and distracted me from taking pictures of the garden outside of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church on Dwyer. Oh well. It was time for me to get off the bus anyway.

Much more like that. Go read.

Update: The misadventures in the East theme of this put me in mind of something from way back in the before time when Daisy and I were out there getting to know the neighbors and making stupid in-jokes about apostrophes('s) and cramming a bunch of unrelated shit into one long paragraph and whatnot.

Also news from the East today.

Philospophical consistency

Mickey Loomis speaking this afternoon about the announcement that linebackers coach Joe Vitt will be filling in for Sean Payton this year:
It is important that we keep Sean Payton's philosophy front and center during this season. Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years,

That philosophy being that the head coach doesn't have to be at all the games, I guess. Payton missed one and a half games last year and will miss all of them this year. (That's a lot of hot dogs!) Vitt will be suspended for the first six games this season.

Anyway the most surprising fact we've discovered in analyzing today's news is that legendary TV pitchman Ron Popeil does not have a mustache. I was all set to end this post joking that Vitt and Popeil are kind of similar looking mustache buddies or something. But look! Popeil doesn't even have one!

I was shocked. He certainly looks like he's supposed to have one. Did he ever? I can't find any photos of him with one. Someone should do something about this.

Meanwhile it turns out that Vitt pictured below, doesn't look all that much like Popeil with or without the 'stache.

Instead, I think he's more the Jack "Winnebago Man" Rebney type.

And this is probably the best news of all. Because, given the way the 2012 season is likely to go for the Saints, this is probably the guy we'll most want to see on the sideline as the debacle unfolds.


Jack Dempsey, legendary local police reporter, dies at 92

Mr. Dempsey was a character, and he knew it. At States-Item staff parties, he could be counted on to sing "Every Man a King," Huey Long's theme song, in what he called, in the tones of the Irish Channel, "a loud, stentorian verce." At the end of every dispatch he teletyped from the police headquarters press room, he used the signature "alihot," which stood for "a legend in his own time."

"I'm a novelty," he said in the 1981 interview. When his wife, Martha, urged him to take things seriously, Lind said this was Mr. Dempsey's reply: "I tried it for a week, but it didn't last."

Already tired

It's not even May yet and here we are with the first what will be many fake sort-of culture-war victimization non-controversies to come before it's over with... and it's not even a remotely interesting one or funny in the ha ha way or whatever is supposed to get us through these.

Welcome to Hilary Rosengate.

As part of a panel on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Rosen questioned whether Ann Romney was qualified to be talking about women’s economic issues since she’s “never worked a day in her life.” This launched a late-night Twitter offensive by Team Romney and a swift condemnation of Rosen’s remarks from Team Obama.


Gonna be a long campaign. Stock your liquor closets now.

Update: Also there's this.

See here.


After much hemming, hawing, and hinting, Mitch finally makes a call on the At-Large race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kickback, donation...

Whatever you want to call it

Coca-Cola plans to donate $10,000 to the Mayor's Office of Cultural Economy, says Kel Villarrubia, senior public affairs director for Coca-Cola Refreshments New Orleans. The donation comes as a result of last month's illegal sidewalk advertising campaign in and around the French Quarter, which drew scorn from neighborhood residents.

The Office of Cultural Economy will use the money to help promote the next "cultural" event or film project which might occasion the next guerrilla marketing activity and then, if we're lucky, the next "donation." And on and on and such and so forth.

Fake news you can use

Throughout the recent City Council At-Large campaign, the Uptown Messenger has run a series of paid advertisements for candidate Stacy Head. The ads appear with such persistence that we've come to think of the publication, which specializes in covering "Faubourg Stacy" anyway, as the Stacy Daily.

There's nothing especially wrong with this, of course. Political candidates pay for advertising space in newspapers, on television and radio, and on websites all the time. But the Messenger has developed a peculiar ad delivery mechanism where the paid spots are published as posts the same way their actual news content is.

The ads are clearly labeled, of course, so they aren't quite as underhanded as the TV news practice of passing off sponsor-produced "video news releases" as actual news content. But bleeding them into the regular feed like this is clearly inspired by the "advertorials" and other forms of slightly deceptive advertising that appear frequently in all sorts of print and online publications. The Messenger is at least telling us what they're doing. But that doesn't mean what they're doing is completely honest. On some level, by blurring the lines like this, they're trying to fool us.

And yet today's entry does this so well that it actually crosses back over into the realm of useful informative content. It does this in two ways. First, the advertorial reminds us that early voting for the At-Large runoff is currently underway. Election Day itself is set for April 21.

Secondly, because the advertorial is dressed up as a "recommended French Quarter Fest schedule" provided by the Head campaign, it provides a handy guide for deciding where not to be if you wish to avoid encountering Ms. Head or her minions during the festival. And so we all are better informed both as voters and as individuals looking to enjoy the weekend. And we have this fake news item to thank for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zero tolerance

Strong strong stuff
"We are glad that a perpetrator has been identified and charged. We want the community to know that cruelty to chickens will not be tolerated," Perkowska said.


Hornets coach Monty Williams:

It sure is.

Welp, we'll always have Paultards

They go on. Oh how they go on.
Paul's most ardent supporters still believe he has a shot at winning the nomination at a brokered convention in Tampa. Media reports notwithstanding, Campestre and others insist that Paul is actually second in the delegate count, well ahead of Santorum and Gingrich, and within striking distance of Romney. (Here's one supporter explaining how Paul actually has 380 delegates, 172 more than Santorum and just 123 fewer than Romney). That's not supported by results out of places like North Dakota, where Romney cleaned up in the delegate tally despite a third-place finish at the caucus. But to Paul die-hards, North Dakota is an exception that proves the rule—Romney's big win, via perceived establishment strong-arming, is proof that Paul is a real threat to win.

"I mean, it's all projections essentially, but I personally, as a volunteer who's made closing in on 50,000 phone calls to supporters and potential delegates…have contacted thousands of delegates that are going on to their county conventions and state conventions and the national convention," Campestre says.

Meanwhile, in a related story:
Most of us hold unrealistically optimistic views of the future, research shows, downplaying the likelihood that we will have bad experiences. Now a study in Nature Neuroscience last October has found clues to the brain’s predilection for the positive, identifying regions that may fuel this “optimism bias” by preferentially responding to rosier information.

Bye, Rick

Santorum is apparently suspending his campaign. Next week, Commissioner Goodell is expected to uphold the suspension.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Busy Monday

Yes we're all very much aware that TEH WORLDZ HAZ ENDED yet again this afternoon. I've been relatively quiet about the Saints' mess (at least off of Twitter) during this past month's suspension suspense. I'll have more on that shortly. But, at the moment, I'm kind of busy. Meanwhile the Saints will have to decide whether or not they want to bring in Bill Parcells or just bring in some dude from Teach For America on a temporary consulting basis minus health insurance benefits.

On a relate note, try taking your mind off of the depressing football news by reading through this long explication of the even more depressing news regarding public education in Louisiana.

Back later when I'm done thinking up some more of those clever T-shirt designs that "buck the trend" and impact the economy and stuff.

So much reported and so much distorted

Quite the pretzel of stupid we're dealing with in this report.
Local left-wing activist Jordan Flaherty led a demonstration last summer celebrating the convictions of five New Orleans police officers in the shooting of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina. The demonstration was posted on YouTube; Flaherty begins speaking about the convictions about 1:40 into his remarks.

Last week, Flaherty helped to cover the sentencing of the five officers as a reporter for The New York Times. He was credited as a contributor to the newspaper's report.

The gist of this report is that the Times' reporting on the Danziger sentencing has suffered some mystical damage because Campbell Robertson relied on substantiated facts relayed to him by Flaherty who was present in the courtroom. In a perfect world we wouldn't have to even entertain such monumental stupidities as this theorem that humans having opinions about things automatically invalidates facts they are witness to. In the world we live in, however, monumental stupidities seem to under-gird the fundamental tenets of our establishment politics and journalism. So the NYT, for no particularly good reason, has to apologize for including verified facts provided by an eyewitness in its reporting. But that's not what I want to clear up about this story.

Instead I need to point out that the Times-Picayune reporter relaying this non-story to us has mischaracterized the nature of the protest event Flaherty addressed last summer. The YouTube video of Flaherty cited in the report is clearly labeled "Jordan Flaherty - ALEC Protest Rally - New Orleans 5 Aug 2011" Flaherty was speaking to a (small) group of marchers assembled to protest the Koch-funded political lobbying organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council which was meeting in New Orleans that day. It was not, as the T-P reporter says, "a demonstration last summer celebrating the convictions of five New Orleans police officers."

By coincidence the Danziger verdict had just been announced that day as well but Flaherty's speech to the ALEC group was still wildly off-topic and a counterproductive act of self-important grandstanding. I can verify all of this because I was a witness myself and remarked upon the idiocy of Flaherty's speech at the time.

I was disappointed in Flaherty's behavior specifically because he had blunted the purpose of the ALEC protest by injecting his unrelated bluster. Now thanks to him, and thanks to the inability of the un-named T-P reporter to even read the title of a YouTube video, the purpose of that march has been erased altogether. But since that anonymous T-P reporter is a "disinterested" observer instead of an opinionated witness like myself or Flaherty, I guess his/her version of events is the one that counts.

Update: Tracie Washington gives them the whatfor in the comments.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Aspirin for breakfast

As much as I hate to admit it, I'm getting to the age where I need to dope up with performance enhancing pain killers before taking on the Crescent City Classic these days. Despite the chemical advantage of two Walgreens brand aspirin, I somehow didn't win the race today. Probably because I forgot to lay a bounty on these guys.

On the plus side, I did manage to finish in 54:39 which is the first time in a while I've run the race in a better time than my most recent training runs. We can probably thank the weather for that. Either way, I'm undeniably slower and fatter than I used to be. On average I've lost about 5 minutes off of my typical time over the past ten years.

The most recent race time I recorded was 55:46 two years ago. Incidentally, that post ends in a Gumbo Z'herbes recipe which I put back into practice yesterday... for training purposes, of course. Probably should have used more aspirin, though.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Likely model for law enforcement in the Hospitality Zone

It's already the part of town booming in high rise residential real estate anyway. Might as well go ahead and combine that fact with the spirit of the recently enacted curfew, right?
According to the NYCLU, which filed the suit, "virtually every private apartment building [in the Bronx] is enrolled in the program," and "in Manhattan alone, there are at least 3,895 Clean Halls Buildings." Referring to the NYPD’s own data, the complaint says police conducted 240,000 "vertical patrols" in the year 2003 alone.

If you live in a Clean Halls building, you can’t even go out to take out the trash without carrying an ID – and even that might not be enough. If you go out for any reason, there may be police in the hallways, demanding that you explain yourself, and insisting, in brazenly illegal and unconstitutional fashion, on searches of your person.

Beyond the curfew, the closest approximation to this policy we have in New Orleans is Chief Serpas' perpetual traffic checkpoint program. But that just tends to keep people in their own neighborhoods. The way it's going, though, we're fast approaching a point where the simple act of going outside and talking to people is a suspicious activity.

Signpost of the times

Gotta preserve what's valuable, I guess.

The billboard company, CBS Outdoor, said they purchased “the asset” some time ago and that they maintain the billboard but not the house. While they were prepared to yield to the city’s yen to demolish the house as part of the Landrieu administration’s ongoing “war on blight,” they said they wanted to make sure the billboard stayed put.

The story doesn't say what's currently being advertised on the billboard. Perhaps it's Coca-cola.

The problem

The rumor is Jindal may challenge Mary for her Senate seat in 2014. The question is how would we know the difference?

Rah-rah bullshit

Charles Pierce has a couple of paragraphs up about the Danziger sentencing. As with all preachy journalism about New Orleans by non-New Orleanians, there are some things in it that will undoubtedly elicit groans. There's a shoe-horned in Trayvon reference at the top. The whole first paragraph, in fact, is one of those reductive "What we all learned" we've developed a quick gag reflex toward over the years.

But despite the flaws, Pierce makes some useful observations including this.
Underneath the undeniably unquenchable spirit of the place, and underneath all the Chamber of Commerce rah-rah bullshit that is that spirit's tawdry public doppelganger, there remains a sense of abandonment and loss.
If I had to put my finger on the single most serious obstacle to progress in post-Flood New Orleans it is that we've allowed the "Chamber of Commerce rah-rah bullshit" to co-opt and commercialize what was momentarily a defiant civic spirit. One need only look at the sad turnout in our recent citywide election for evidence that our much hyped "grass roots" involvement in recovery hasn't translated to a more habitually engaged citizenry over the long haul. We do still manage to sell each other clever T-shirts from time to time which is nice, I guess, because it probably helps "buck the trend" or something.

Of course this was always inevitable but in the future I could do with a lot less of the self-congratulatory NOLA community bootstrap false narrative.

Now back to more Rah-rah bullshit.

We may not be Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, but Travel + Leisure places New Orleans just behind those bohemian cities as one of the country's hipster havens in a recent ranking

Update: See also, please this.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Feature, not a bug

Critics of Governor Jindal's package of education reforms have long charged that the obvious loopholes it generates in fair labor agreements and anti-discrimination policies were... you know... the whole point in the first place.

To this the critics were admonished by the Governor's backers to "think of the children" although clearly Team Jindal hasn't been doing that themselves.

Update: Dambala has more with a bit of a sidebar on the Louisiana Family Forum which is at the root of a lot of the Jindal agenda to which we mostly say, yeah we knew that already. And I think most of Louisiana already knew that too which is why I don't think Dambala's analysis is correct here.
this bill is so preposterous it's going to put Jindal's balls in a vice. If he is stupid enough to get behind (LFF President Gene) Mills on this...and man I hope he is....it's not only going to draw international attention to the state, it will effectively destroy his political career.
Um, no, it won't. LFF has helped to make Jindal in Louisiana specifically because it gives him cred at the most extreme pole of "OMG OBAMA IS TEH MUSLIM SOCIALIST" reaction which is where the juice is politically in this state. And that's where it's going to be at least through the end of this year and longer if Obama is reelected. So Jindal is untouchable for the foreseeable future.

See also: Even more here from Tom Aswell.
The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee has approved by a 5-1 vote Senate Bill 217 by State Sen. A.G. Crowe (R-Slidell) which would allow charter schools to refuse to admit students on the basis of their ability to speak English, their sexual orientation or other unspecified factors.

In what must qualify as one of the more asinine comments coming out of the current session, Crowe said the intent of his bill is to prevent bans by executive branch agencies and local governments on discrimination against characteristics not listed in state law as a condition for private companies to do business with their agencies.

Wait. What? Is Sen. A.G. Crowe really advocating a return to Jim Crow?
Yep. Pretty much. Will anyone be able to do anything about it? Not likely.