Monday, October 31, 2016

To sleep sound in the ghost town

Ghost Manor

On Sunday night we took a walk over to Magazine Street to check out the Halloween display at a house calling itself, "Ghost Manor." 
The animated tableau is now called Ghost Manor. It has grown to encompass upstairs windows, the attic and the entire front porch and yard. A sound system pipes eerie music synced with flying ghouls and skeletons and lighting that all works together. Animatronic skeletons channel Louis Armstrong on the front porch. To make all of this happen, Gentry had to learn electronics, video and audio editing and even stage lighting design and the software that runs it. He even built a dedicated gaming computer to run it all. He is modest about all of this.
The display is really cool. There is a series of animations displayed on the upstairs windows where ghosts, skeletons and creepy eyeballs, and even the Slimer character from Ghostbusters appear. There is a graveyard scene on one side of the house and, on the other, an oak tree with a face.

Ghost Manor graveyard

Tree face

These and other decorations in the yard are enhanced with colored lights and fog machines. The highlight, though, is the animatronic skeletons on the porch.  They perform musical numbers from the movies "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "The Jungle Book." You can still stop by there tonight if you're Uptown for Trick-or-Treat.

Also, if you walk a block up Second street into the Garden District, you'll see there's a house with a similar display that complements this. The silhouettes in the upstairs window act out various horror scenes in a loop.

Haunted House

It's neat stuff. But with all the sound and light going on (not to mention the nightly crowds) I started to wonder how it was that anybody actually lives in these houses... particularly the one on Magazine.  I'm used to seeing Garden District houses that look more like museum pieces than homes. The owners come and go by a back entrance or driveway while the yard and the face of the house are meticulously manicured for display purposes.  I don't understand exactly how that works in the lives of those residents, but I'm used to seeing it.  I suppose Ghost Manor is like that.

Then I read the article on its backstory.
When local entrepreneur David Gentry and his wife Jessica purchased their stately Queen Anne Victorian home back in 2011, they had few thoughts about turning it into one of New Orleans' premier Halloween destinations.

"We just fell in love with the architecture of it," Gentry said. "We looked at brand-new houses in Lakeview too but nothing compared to this place."

Located on Magazine at Second Street, it had been empty since Hurricane Katrina and needed a ton of work. "I think the condition it was in scared a lot of people off," Gentry said. But they had never owned a home before. "It was a big project."

But people were always asking Gentry if his big old hulk was haunted, and he began to think that maybe he could turn it into something fun.
And it reminded me that most haunted house stories are about gentrification
Even though its subtext of displacement and gentrification might foreground race and violence and displacement, the haunted house film participates in the mystification of demographic change by convincing us that we are innocent, and the people we have displaced are monsters.

Displacement creates a paradox: We acknowledge the wrong that has been done but feel powerless to do anything about it. A sort of collective guilt springs up, a sense that we are insignificant cogs in the machinery of economic and social factors that create gentrification. This is particularly true for the middle class, who are often forced by economic necessity to move to gentrifying neighborhoods or to new suburban developments that have demolished pre-existing space.

Regardless of their place on the political spectrum, most people acknowledge that their government does some very bad things, and that they themselves might have to face the consequences. As in Malcolm X's famous comment on the assassination of John F. Kennedy -- "the chickens are coming home to roost" -- and following the Golden Rule, a system that maintains itself through violence will engender a violent response. The price of living in the comfort that globalizing imperialism can provide is the chance that we will be the victims of retaliatory violence -- like the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.

In the same way, the consequences of gentrification flicker on our radar regardless of whether or not we feel personally culpable. The question is, can we do anything about it? The modern haunted house film tells us that we can't -- that the only way to live in peace is to destroy the monsters we have already replaced.
In the coming years, many more of us can expected to be displaced as official city policy allows the homes we once had to become housing for visitors on their way to experience New Orleans's attractions like Ghost Manor, maybe.  Will the fact that people used to actually live here haunt them? Or will they define us simply as "Old New Orleans" a monster that needed to be destroyed?

Anyway, Happy Halloween.  Make the most of your existence on the mortal plane while you're still here.

One and done

Good for Ben Simmons.
Mostly, though, Simmons grouses about what a waste of time college is. “The players get nothing,” he says at one point. “They say an education, but if you’re only going to be here a year, that’s not much education.”

Although he does much better than a 1.8 G.P.A. in his first semester, he decides he has had enough and stops going to class once the second semester begins. “I’m here to play,” he explains. “I’m not here to go to school.”

After Simmons starts missing classes, his coach, Johnny Jones, gets after him, warning him that there will be consequences if he does not show up. “I’m going to the N.B.A. next season,” Simmons says when he misses another class. Why pretend “if it’s not going to help me”?

His punishment? Jones benches him for the first 4 minutes 30 seconds of a game against Tennessee. When word leaks out that Simmons had to sit out the beginning of the game for academic reasons, the reporters covering the team want to know the details. “Why didn’t you go to class?” he says to himself as he heads to the news conference, mimicking the reporters. “Well, I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so what’s the point?”
The NCAA makes millions of dollars off the athletes it uses. There's no need for anyone to bolster their sanctimonious dodge about "the value of a college education." It's just bullcrap. 

Can't see how anyone would consider this a negative

Don't know about you guys, but I'd say more judges should probably hate the D.A.
White, 57, touts her decades in the trenches of criminal and civil legal work, along with nine years as a sharp-tongued jurist who wears her disdain for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro as a badge of honor.

She argues that the appeals court is in desperate need of her experience, now that Judge James McKay is the only one of the 4th Circuit's 12 judges who has sat on a criminal court bench.

"When I hit court, I am all in. I'm involved in the arguments. I'm involved in knowing the defendants, their families, the lawyers, the issues. I plan to be the same way in the next court," White said.

"When you have three judges on a panel and not one of them is a criminal law expert, I think you're going to get a different perspective on a case."

Bartholomew-Woods, 45, claims equanimity as an asset, painting White's "bombastic" demeanor — and her jousting with the district attorney — as a hazard for an appeals court that settles most legal disputes arising from the district courts in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.
The District Attorney is the most frighteningly powerful person in the city.  An appeals court judge should be skeptical of him. Even if that skepticism rises to the level of "bombast."  Better, even.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Events calendar

This is it, y'all. We just have to make it through the next week and a half and we can take the rest of 2016 off.  All the things are about to happen.  Here's a quick look ahead.

Today: The Saints celebrate their actual 50th birthday this weekend by playing the most pivotal game of the year.  Win this and we get to flirt with .500 again, and probably a few more times before the season is out. Lose and... well.  Just to make matters more interesting, the Seattle Seahawks are in town. You might remember them from two of the Saints' three most recent playoff losses including the infamous Marshawn game.  Also they brought "I'm Jimmy!" Graham with them along with a large number of the NFL's most insufferable fans.  So that's fun.

Mostly, though, this is the Saints' Groundhog Day. What happens here determines the course of the next few months.  Keep an eye on whether or not Dannell Ellerbe "leaps and bounds" out of that tunnel. He is our Puxatawney Phill.

Monday is Halloween.

Wednesday, November 2: A handful of Senate candidates participate in a televised debate.  This handful includes David Duke, which should make for some interesting TV, especially considering the setting.

Ongoing: City budget hearings. Expect more drama at City Council.

Saturday, November 5: LSU is going to beat Alabama.

Sunday, November 6: Saints back to .500? Drew vs Kaep? Maybe... Also GBV at Republic.

Tuesday, November 8: Our long national nightmare ends in a flurry of Blue Dog stickers. Then we will sleep.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

They choose not to

Jared Brossett is on a roll lately. A few weeks ago he was the only councilperson to speak passionately and vote against Mitch Landrieu's short term rental giveaway. During this week's city budget hearings, Brossett also called out the administration for its foot-dragging over a living wage ordinance he shepherded through council last year. 
The council passed the living wage ordinance, which Brossett authored, last year, and it went into effect Jan. 1. It says that all new contracts and extensions of existing agreements must require that employees be paid the specified minimum wage and also receive a week's paid time off each year.

The administration has argued that state law prevents it from unilaterally changing the terms of a contract that is up for renewal, even as it has granted such extensions rather than rebid some expiring contracts.

Brossett said that circumvents the intention of the rules, possibly opening the city up to lawsuits from employees of firms that are paying them less than $10.55 an hour.

"It's my position that the living wage should apply to renewals. If it does end up in court, I don't want (the administration) representing the legislative branch," Brossett said.

It remains unclear how many workers on city contracts are in fact being paid less than the amount specified in the living wage ordinance.

Administration officials told the City Council that new city contracts do include the wage requirement and that they're reviewing more than 1,000 existing contracts to make determinations about which ones should be rebid to add the higher minimum.

"It wouldn't be practical and would result in poor service probably if we tried to rebid every contract the city has at one time," City Attorney Rebecca Dietz said.

"You all make it sound like it's too cumbersome and you choose not to do it, basically," Brossett said.
That's about right.  If it were something someone who mattered to them wanted, they'd be more willing to stick their necks out.  This isn't exactly a timid administration.

Actually this is an improvement

Could federal regulators and lawyers been more aggressive with this oil company they found blatantly dumping petroleum and chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico?  Sure looks like it.

The government promised to crack down on environmental crimes in the wake of the devastating BP oil spill in 2010. And at first, it appeared to be fulfilling that pledge. The fines against BP set the record as the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history: $4.5 billion.

But since then, the federal government has eased the pressure. Congress failed to put into effect the tougher offshore oil and gas production regulations that were recommended after the BP spill; a ballyhooed training center for government inspectors was scrapped; the Interior Department’s environmental enforcement division was understaffed and couldn’t perform its basic oversight duties; and when companies were caught violating environmental laws, prosecutors were unwilling to reward whistleblowers.

Still, there was reason to believe the government would be more aggressive with Howington’s case. Rarely have the authorities had so much to work with as they did with his video evidence.

Howington and Servos brought the feds copies of crystal-clear video showing chemicals and what looked like oil gushing out of a pipe 1,500 feet below the surface of the Gulf on April 1, 2014. It was recorded by a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle, an unmanned submarine Howington and other rig workers controlled from a floating oil rig.

Hey at least they prosecuted somebody!  You millenials are so spoiled. Do you even remember how this kind of federal oversight used to work
The report says that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

The investigation separately found that the program’s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.

The culture of the organization “appeared to be devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue-producing program,” one report said.

The director of the Minerals Management Service, Randall Luthi, said in a conference call with reporters that the officials implicated in the reports had violated the public’s trust.
 So just be happy with what you get now. Ken Polite says it's good enough for him.
In a letter to the court, Maestri stood by the decision to charge Walter Oil & Gas for failing to report the discharge, noting that the fine for that felony is larger than the one for an intentional discharge.

The U.S attorney in New Orleans, Kenneth Polite, stood by Maestri’s handling of the case. He said he couldn’t comment in detail about Howington’s allegations because his claim against Maestri is still pending with the Justice Department in Washington.

“I can state confidently, however, that Walter Oil pled guilty to an environmental criminal charge appropriate to the facts and evidence,” Polite said. “Further, our office timely responded to the questions and concerns of Mr. Howington's counsel. Ultimately, I expect Mr. Howington's claim to be denied.”
In other words, the whistleblower doesn't get the $6 million he might have been entitled to. That sucks for him, of course. It's also not great for changing future behavior among rig operators. We're pretty sure we'll see a no cell phones policy instituted pretty soon. That ought to keep this from happening again, at least. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Freebird rules return

Varg Gras, short term rentals, Louisiana and Presidential politics, city budget process, Whiskey, Twitter, Football. Other stuff as well on the fake radio show.

We lost

Anti-Airbnb signs on Tulane Ave

Shortly after Mitch Landrieu delivered his second inaugural speech in 2014, I wrote a rather tl;dr-ish post about the direction the city was likely to take. The jokey introduction has gone stale. But if you skip through that, the rest of it is worth referring back to. I tried to address the worsening effect of economic inequality in New Orleans and the stark disconnect between those effects and the priorities of the city's political class. 

I bring it up today because, two and a half years later, we're still seeing the same tendencies. The most recent evidence of this can be found in the debacle last week at City Council over the short term rental question.  Just so you don't have to read through too much of it, what I tried to show in that post were the following points.

1) Affordable housing is being crowded out by asset investment opportunities.
But it's imprecise to say simply that the problem is we're looking to "transplants" to expand the tax base.  More to the point, we're looking to big money buyers (granted, mostly from out of town) to radically bid up housing prices.

But what was once a leisurely inspection has become, in some cases, a feeding frenzy. Agents now bring their clients in tow. Offers are sometimes discussed outside; agents describe offers being scribbled out on the hoods of cars.

Last week, one of the properties open on the tour was 1015 Arabella St. -- a double being rented out to tenants. By Friday morning, the listing agent, Lynne Ann Fowler of Latter and Blum, said the owner had received three offers and already accepted one that was "close" to the asking price of $375,000, although she said she couldn't say the exact offer while the contract is pending.

She said the house is in need of some renovation, depending on whether the new owners want to convert it to a single and live in it, or keep using it as rental property.
It's hard to imagine a sale like that going through solely for the purpose of maintaining an existing rental property.  New Orleans, particularly in its historic neighborhoods, is an investment now.  The wage earners and rent payers have to be moved out of the way in order for the asset traders to flourish.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Renters and wage earners have become more or less structurally irrelevant people over the past 20 or 30 years. Going back as far as the late 1970s, as automation and globalization began to seriously affect the manufacturing sector of the economy, wages became uncoupled from productivity meaning a great deal of wealth could be produced while wages remained largely stagnant. Again, I'll refer you to that conversation between Lapham and Frank for some insight as to what happened next.
as long ago as 1985 or 1986, the money earned in the United States, the income earned from wages on one hand and income earned from rents which would be real estate, stocks, dividends and interest — together they’re considered rents. But the first time in the history of the United States, either in 1984 or 1985, that rentier income surpassed the income earned from wages. And we are developing right now a really, an extremely opulent rentier class. If you think of the profits that have been made in the stock market in the last 30 years and you think of the compound interest, that is why you now have apartments selling for $95 million. So we are getting a rentier class. There’s no question about that. The numbers are all there.
If you aren't a member of a highly specialized profession or some sort of asset speculator... in other words, if you're not a part of what Mitch Landrieu euphemistically calls the "knowledge economy" there really isn't much of a place for you.
2) The rise of the so-called "sharing economy" is not only a sign of the desperation that arises from this crowding out. It also facilitates the process. 
While it's fine for the mayor to act as the city's booster-in-chief, it's important to note that the proliferation of  "entrepreneurial innovation" he's celebrating can also be a sign of distress.

Some of these new companies are obviously helpful to the economy. But when you look at the kinds of businesses getting started, and who is starting them, it becomes clear that lots of entrepreneurship in the last few years has been symptomatic of our sick job market.
This is most especially a concern when it comes to the entrepreneurial activity that takes place within what is now known as the "sharing economy." 
A huge precondition for the sharing economy has been a depressed labor market, in which lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways. In many cases, people join the sharing economy because they've recently lost a full-time job and are piecing together income from several part-time gigs to replace it. In a few cases, it's because the pricing structure of the sharing economy made their old jobs less profitable. (Like full-time taxi drivers who have switched to Lyft or Uber.) In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust.
New Orleans does not have Uber or Lyft yet but it does produce a lot of action on Airbnb.  An extensive feature on Airbnb's local impact ran in the March issue of Antigravity.   While the service can seem like a godsend to marginalized homeowners struggling to keep up with bills, in the aggregate it's yet another constricting force acting on the housing market.
For one thing, it puts renters in New Orleans into direct competition for space with an endless churn of visitors able to pay $50 to $200 a night. For another, it subjects residential neighborhoods to wave after wave of super-short-term outsiders, a potent disruptive and destabilizing force in areas still fighting their way back to some semblance of stability. Tourists have no understanding of the neighborhoods they’re invading, and unlike longer-term residents, they have no incentive to get along with or respect those who live in the neighborhood. They’re here to party and enjoy themselves, and it’s in the Airbnb host’s economic interest to ensure they’re able to do so. On a NOLA.com article about the city’s ongoing failure to enforce the laws against illegal short-term rentals, one commenter said his experience of living next door to an illegal guesthouse was like “living next to a frat house.”
 3) Local political leaders turn a blind eye to these stresses focusing instead on the needs of the investor class justified by what they see as easy technocratic solutions to government revenue problems.
Also at issue, from the city's perspective, is the potential for lost revenue.  After all Airbnb is basically one big off-the-books hotel.   The city welcomed a near-record 9.28 million visitors last year. A key challenge for the mayor and his new council faced with a severe budget crisis is figuring a way to capture the highest possible revenues from the city's most vital industry. 

The hotel/motel tax hike is already meeting with significant static in the legislature. I can't help but wonder, then, if this might help explain the dramatic rise proposed for property taxes.  Think about it. The housing market in New Orleans is on fire right now.  A lot of the pricier properties are already part time second homes.  A lot of property owners are getting into the illegal short-term rental business.  It could be that the idea here is to pay off the consent decree and fire pensions by indirectly taxing this off-the-books activity.

If this is what they're thinking, I have to admit it's kind of ingenious.  Leaving the illegal rental market alone keeps the real estate market hot. This means more house flipping, less blight, and, as neighborhoods seek to cultivate more tourist-friendly amenities, it means more "vibrancy."  The city can reach its goal of 13 million annual visitors and not one extra cent in hotel taxes need be raised. It basically hits all of the Landrieu sweet spots and takes a fiscal load off the city's back in the process.

Of course that for whom, against whom question remains troublesome. Rents, utilities, and other fees continue to rise. "Old" New Orleanians will have to stretch their entrepreneurial acumen to its limits in order to keep up.
So what we have is a worsening situation for poor and working class New Orleanians exacerbated by a totally unresponsive political elite. Fast forward to last week's showdown over STR and here is what the Urban Conservancy's Dana Eness observed about that.
As I looked around the council chambers on Oct. 20, I tallied the thousands of dollars in parking fees paid and and work time sacrificed by people in the room, citizens who in good faith had prioritized dedicating several hours of their day to a public process, only to have legislation ramrodded through without any opportunity to review it in advance. Hard copies of the amendments to the recommendations were made available at the Council meeting — the first time the public had been allowed a look at them.

The citizens weren’t the only ones denied sufficient time to review the Administration’s amendments; the same was true for councilmembers, who got them shortly before the meeting.  Indeed, as the hearing got underway, Councilmember Susan Guidry’s staff was drafting an amendment that would have reinserted the owner-occupancy requirement for whole-house rentals. The hastily drawn amendment failed — as might be expected when bills are cobbled together at the eleventh hour. It’s unfair to everyone and undermines public confidence.

In the absence of transparency, we can only speculate about what drove Thursday’s outcome. Perhaps it was for expediency’s sake, to do something rather than nothing. Perhaps the council believes that whole houses constitute the bulk of short-term rental properties in New Orleans and if legalized, would pay for an enforcement program and generate city revenues. Perhaps it was a condition imposed by the booking platforms like Airbnb that hold the data that City Hall needs if rules are to be enforced effectively.
As Eness points out, there is zero transparency regarding the negotiations process between the city and "the platforms" these regulations apply to. But we do know the voices of "the platforms" were heard by councilmembers even if those of the public were not.  Guidry's homestead exemption amendment would have gone the furthest toward allaying the fears of residents that their neighborhoods would be scooped up by STR investment companies by the blockfull.  "The platforms" made it clear to councilmembers that was a non-starter. Guess who they listened to.

In exchange, The Platforms agree to share data with the city for enforcement purposes. At least that's what they say. Nobody actually trusts them to do that.  Maybe Ryan Berni does. Maybe.
Berni says the city has worked out a plan for Airbnb and other platforms to share their data through quarterly reports. Opponents are skeptical, as the industry has been reluctant to share data despite similar attempts in cities across the U.S. — and the city will be relying on four-month-old data in a city where STRs continue to mushroom. The companies are happy.
The companies are happy and that's what counts.  Well, also, LaToya is happy.

The Neighborhood Housing Investment Fund, in case you are wondering is LaToya's pet blight reduction project
Money from the fund has traditionally been used to pay for code enforcement, supporting city inspectors and attorney costs in addressing blighted structures around the city. The change the council made Thursday dedicates the fund to actual home improvements and affordable housing efforts. It would help owners pay to correct potential code violations, rather than fining them.

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell authored the amendments to the NHIF ordinance.

"By updating the ordinance, we have two tremendous opportunities. First, we can begin to follow the law and use money as intended by voters ..." she said. "Second, we can use this opportunity to tie badly needed resources to affordable housing and special needs housing that are right now being identified in the (New Orleans Consolidated) Housing Plan.
The "affordable housing" language there is basically just platitudes. NHIF only touches that insofar as it funds the ongoing and thus far inconsequential process of developing a housing plan, though not necessarily any specific policy. What NHIF does mostly is help cover some of the cost of code enforcement.  That can be nice. But it doesn't do anything to alleviate the housing crisis. It does secure funding for Cantrell's project and the friends and supporters of hers who take an interest in its operation.  The Platforms did right by her. And now they can continue to do right by her father-in-law, no doubt.

And this brings us back to the point we made earlier this month when we figured we could see the writing on the wall.  What that writing says is they don't care about you. That's why we lost. We were always going to lose. We lost because the political process we think we are participating in does not regard us as stakeholders. The actual players are the elected decision makers, their wealthy friends and family, and the business interests affected by the policies they choose.  The rest of us are all just cannon fodder. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stacy gonna Stacy

The City Council has begun its annual series of hearings leading up to adoption of the 2017 municipal budget. The mayor's proposed operating budget is available for review via the city's website here.  The hearings schedule is available on the council's site. As usual there are several points of controversy contained within this document all of which will be argued over in council chambers this week for your entertainment.

One of the primary disputes involves the mayor's scheme to nearly double the number of traffic cameras around town.
Jeff Hebert, Landrieu's chief administrative officer, mentioned the additional safety cameras Wednesday (Oct. 26) during the first day of budget hearings for the city's 2017 spending plan. Revenue for traffic cameras is projected to increase nearly 50 percent next year to $24 million. Hebert said the city will see $5 million in new revenue after figuring in the $3 million cost of adding the new devices. 
Traffic cameras are one of the many measures by which New Orleans is one of the most regressive cities in the country. As far back as eight years ago other cities had already begun to abandon their experiment with the questionable practice of depending on traffic violations to fill budget holes.

When a law enforcement function is repurposed as a revenue generating scheme, an obvious conflict of interest arises. Which is how we find municipalities trying to trick people into violations, or partner with unscrupulous private contractors in order to squeeze money out of the citizenry. It has also been well documented that this sort of predatory behavior falls most severely on the poorest, often "ruining the lives" of those who cannot afford to pay up.

New Orleans, of course, is moving full steam ahead with its program. Because the expansion is the mayor's decision and not the council's, some councilmembers felt free to express their skepticism yesterday.  Not all of them cared to, of course.
Cantrell also asked Hebert for information on unpaid traffic camera tickets, with the idea that it could show lower-income drivers are more adversely affected.

"Speeders are disproportionately affected," Councilwoman Stacy Head interjected, expressing her support for the cameras.
 Never change, Stacy.

Back from recess

Tulane and Broad

Sorry about the brief hiatus this week. I was detained by the court for a few days on a nasty jury duty stint.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pretty ok weekend

We had the fancy people seats in Tiger Stadium.


LSU-Ole Miss on Saturday night with a slight but not uncomfortable chill in a quintessential Louisiana cultural experience. There are probably dozens of  Thrillist clickbaity articles that say this already.  Anyway it's a good time. Especially win the Tigers win. Especially when they win on the strength of a record-setting performance from one of their all time greats.

If you're gonna go, it's important to be aware of a few things, though.  First, there are no alcohol sales in Tiger Stadium.  This seems kind of prudish at first, although it's probably a good thing at least as far as one's wallet is concerned. It's far cheaper to start drinking early on and use the time in the stadium to sober up. Not everyone does it this way.  Try to give the amateurs as wide a berth as possible.

Also, if you're driving to and from Baton Rouge, be prepared to wait in traffic.  We parked over in one of the "levee lots" over by River Road about a ten minute walk further back from where this picture was taken.

Tiger Stadium and cars

After the game, all of those cars have to funnel out onto a single file line going away from the river. We got in the car around 12:30 and didn't make it out back to Nicholson Drive until almost 2:00 am. And that was before the hour and a half drive back down I-10 to New Orleans.

So I guess what we're saying here is, if you're going to Tiger Stadium, be sure and bring plenty beer for the pregaming activity, and plenty of something well caffeinated for the ride home.  Whatever you do, avoid taking an Uber because, well..

Oh and be aware that when there's an election coming you'll want to steer clear of the politicians and.. well... worse than politicians who tend to creep about the stadium during this time.

Spotted David Duke at the LSU 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Any of these guys could lose

In case you missed this week's Senate debate, here is that.

I wrote an itty bit about the Senate race on Tuesday and I'm sure there will be more before election day. (We also got into it a little on the last Hunkerdowncast.) But here are just a couple of quick notes on the debate to keep things short.

First, we already knew this was a lame field. But it took seeing (some of) the candidates interacting on stage together to show just how weak each is in his or her own way.  Holding aside each candidate's fundamentals in terms of geographic or ideological base, name recognition, etc. and just looking at them as campaigners, they're all pretty bad to downright terrible. All things being equal, any of them could lose to any other. Anyway, here's the quick and dirty.

1) Caroline Fayard, as she has for much of the campaign, looked unready. Her responses sounded, not only like she was reciting a script, but also like she was nervously rushing to get through it. The saving grace there is that anything she says is wholly devoid of substance anyway. Her position on the state's lawsuit against the oil and gas industry continues to be weak tea. When she wasn't mumbling around about the futility of legal action, Fayard said she plans to assemble "a coalition of the willing" to fight coastal loss. That she would describe a project by invoking George W. Bush's phrase used to sell his Iraq invasion to doesn't instill much confidence. We don't know which staffer wrote that for her. We hope whoever it is is paid well.

2) Foster Campbell is, of this bunch, the candidate who comes nearest to getting the key issues right. He's the only candidate who backs the coastal lawsuit. In fact, he's the only one willing to fully accept the science on climate change being caused by human activity. (Although, we'd love to hear him try to say the word, anthropogenic out loud.)

But there's a reason Campbell has never been a successful statewide candidate.  He's a crappy campaigner who can't fend off even the most obvious attacks.  During the direct question part of the debate, sandwich magnate John Flemming attacked Campbell with a standard "guns and fetuses" type question tying Campbell (perhaps unfairly) to national Democrats' positions on abortion and gun control.  Foster could only boast of owning 36 shotguns in response leaving voters to determine whether they think that's a pointless dodge or a disturbing image.

3) Charles Boustany is boring.  This may work for him as much as it does against him.  For one thing, it helps him present as the least amateurish among the rough edged doofuses populating this very weak field. Because of this he can talk convincingly about his ability to "get results" without anyone remarking on the fact that those "results" mean the regular package of deregulation and favors for oil and chemical companies or trade and immigration policy that favors employers who rely on virtual slave labor.  It also might work to minimize the damage done by his having been linked to a salacious murder and prostitution scandal in Jeff Davis Parish. Voters may have difficulty processing that association if they aren't convinced the candidate has much of a pulse to begin with.

4) John Fleming is trying to corner the Generic Tea Party market. But that's not easy for him to do if he can't bribe Rob Maness out of the race OR draw enough support to keep freaking David Duke from qualifying to appear in debates. By the way, has Fleming considered trying to buy Duke out?  We're pretty sure he will take the money.

5) John Neely Kennedy is the smarmiest, phoniest, most despicable person, not only on that debate stage, but possibly in the entire state of Louisiana. He's a textbook example of what happens when a social incompetent tries to do politics. This is the only person we know of capable of inserting himself into the Boustany prostitution scandal and looking like the grosser person in the process. He is Louisiana's Ted Cruz.

During the debate Kennedy railed against "bureaucracy and regulations" before rattling off a list of regulations he would propose in order to reign that in. I suppose that is not surprising from someone who spent the better part of his tenure as Treasurer demagoguing against rather than honestly trying to solve the state's perpetual budget crisis.   In the process he has made enemies of just about everyone.  But he asks us to mistake that for a sign of personal integrity.

His ads are laden with this sort of condescension. This one got attention for a bizarre "love is the answer but you ought to keep a handgun" riddle. But it's the incoherence of the policy assertions that really serves as Kennedy's signature.  In the ad he says, "I believe gubmint tries to do too much," one breath before saying government "needs to enforce its immigration laws." Here is one where he threatens to bomb the hypothetical goats belonging to anyone who might join ISIS. That none of this makes any sense is evidence that he doesn't think the voters are very smart.  Maybe that's a fair assumption, but it's the obviousness of the insult that causes him to miss. 

His delivery is overlain with an affected folksy manner that sort of calls to mind an absurdist version of Ross Perot. He smacks his lips disgustingly and blinks approximately 50 times a second. All politicians are shameless liars. But the ones who voters can viscerally sense are lying every time they open their mouths are the most profoundly talentless. Only a hack as tone deaf as John Kennedy could produce a line as unfunny as his much talked about "week killer" bit.  The more Kennedy appears on TV, the less people are going to like him.

Of course that might matter more if any of his opponents weren't as glaringly weak as each is.  Any of them is bad enough to lose to him.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

The "very reasonable request" wasn't enough

Nobody could have predicted that.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has increased the amount of money he thinks the state needs for federal flood relief — from $2.8 billion to $4 billion.

In a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday, Edwards said that the total impact of the catastrophic flood that swept across South Louisiana in August, killing 13 people and leaving thousands of homes damaged or destroyed, is becoming clearer as officials assess the damages.
Except, we did predict it with just a little back of the napkin math that could still mean they aren't asking for enough. The best I could guess was they'd need between $3 and $6.4 billion to fund the recovery plan... which we also sketched out for them here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

So close to finding out what's in Stuart Fisher's vault

Somebody call Geraldo. We're going in.
The developer who won the right to redevelop the World Trade Center appears to be within striking distance of resolving a lawsuit brought by a Florida developer that has held up the project since March 2015.

Orleans District Court Judge Tiffany Chase on Thursday (Oct. 20) set a trial for the lawsuit to begin on Nov. 21, which was considered a victory for Cambridge, Mass.-based Carpenter and Co. and New Orleans-based Woodward Interests. The two companies are planning a $360 million, 350-room Four Seasons with 76 hotel-serviced condos, and have been trying for months to get a trial date set to avoid further delays in the case.

The lawsuit has halted what had been steady progress for the city to complete a redevelopment deal after choosing Carpenter and Woodward from a competitive bid process. There had been questions from the start over whether Two Canal Street Investors could obtain financing; the lawsuit was filed questioning the selection process.

But the winning developers could have a chance to resolve the lawsuit before the trial date. Chase also set a hearing for Nov. 7 to determine whether the plaintiff, Two Canal Street Investors, still has legal standing to continue litigating at trial. In a series of bizarre developments that played out in court on Thursday, Chase allowed the Two Canal Street Investors' attorneys to withdraw from the case, and reviewed documents that raised questions about whether the company even exists and the person behind it.
Are we really about to find out who Two Canal Street Investors actually is? We've been waiting for so long, I thought we'd never get here.  What if it's nobody.
The questions came up after the resignation earlier this month of Stuart "Neil" Fisher, a Florida real estate investor, who had been the face of Two Canal Street Investors. But Chase was told Thursday that a new, mysterious overseas investor has taken over for Fisher.
Holy shit what if it's Putin! Guess we'll check back on November 7. One day before Election Day. Surely this is just a coincidence. 

Update: Was in a hurry when I posted this so I forgot to mention one thing.  A clear sign that everyone thinks this is finally the endgame to the lawsuit is the mayor's decision to account for it in his budget proposal.
The city is also expecting increased revenue from several other sources. Property tax collections came in about $4.4 million higher than originally expected in 2016. About $2 million is expected from permits and fees once the World Trade Center Redevelopment begins. And about $1 million is expected from sales taxes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome due to a change in state law this year.
Could also be BS just like the rest of the budget. But it at least reflects confidence on their part. 

Ridiculously miniscule

The election "rigging" is not going well.
Louisiana’s chief election officer, Secretary of State Tom Schedler, says voters don’t have to worry about a “rigged election,” and charges his party’s presidential standard bearer, Donald Trump, with “overplaying the fraud card.”

Trump repeatedly has warned of rampant voter fraud that could throw the Nov. 8 election to Hillary Clinton.

“I’m telling you, November 8 (Election Day), we better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it is going to be taken away from us,” Trump warned as early as August and has been focusing on that warning in the last week.

Schedler disagrees that voters need to be watching out for fraud when they vote.

“For (every) 10 complaints, we maybe get one thing of some substance, and usually it is something ridiculously minuscule,” Schedler said.

They don't care about you

The politics of climate change and coastal loss is never about pulling together to solve a common problem. It is about every faction fighting to be the one that absorbs the least of the cost.  In South Louisiana this means a political class owned by oil companies looks to protect those oil companies at the expense of everyone else they ostensibly represent.
A paradox hung over Wednesday’s legislative hearing. The parishes most at risk of slowly disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico – particularly Lafourche and Terrebonne – are the most vociferous opponents of suing the oil and gas companies, because their local economies depend on the industry.
Politics is not about magically divining a perfect consensus that benefits everyone. Politics is abiut conflict. The winners impose their version of "consensus" on the lossrs. And most of the time the surest way to be a winner is to start with money.

In New Orleans, for example,  there's no such thing as a "reasonable compromise" on the short term rental question. There is only a well financed faction of landlords trying to impose its version of consensus on the rest of us.  Our mayor and Council members will pretend they're there to facilitate reasonable compromise but that is not actually their function. Politicians are not leaders or founts of venerable wisdom.  They are tools by which political factions attack one another. Sometimes... on very rare occasions.... the tools can be manipulated by direct democracy but that takes time, energy, and organization.  Most of the time difference they just respond to money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mitch Landrieu does not care about renters

Nothing new since yesterday. Just reiterating.
"I was encouraged at first," said Carol Gniady, executive director of the Louisiana Landmarks Society and a Marigny resident.

But on Tuesday, Gniady learned of proposed ordinance changes that showed officials are considering allowing people to rent out entire homes for as many as 120 days each year.

Although the mayor's administration billed the changes as a compromise, Gniady said the proposal was in many ways what opponents of whole home rentals had always feared. Under the proposal, owners of whole homes could be rented out every day of every weekend, leaving them empty on weekdays and without the possibility of renting or selling to people who want to live in the neighborhood for the long term.

"I feel the city is selling us out -- they're selling us out for the tourist industry so that they have a place to come and party, disrupting the quality of neighborhoods," Gniady said. "It's just really sad that the city is at this point where they're willing to cater to visitors over the needs of residents."
They care about their friends and relatives. They don't give a shit about you. They prove it every day. 


J.P. Morrell writes in to the Advocate
The compromise being proposed by STR proponents is no compromise at all. This new language seeks to expand the Temporary STR permit to 120 days a year (instead of 30) and omits the Homestead Exemption requirement. It’s a disingenuous effort by STR supporters to circumvent the City Planning Commission and the public process. Essentially, it allows Whole Home STRs with less regulation.

To be clear, the ordinance without this new, so called compromise language accomplishes what many individuals sought, the ability to rent part of your home to pay your mortgage. The omission of the Homestead Exemption requirement allows our housing market to be overrun by out of state investors snatching up housing stock.

Consider this: AirBNB began in San Francisco years ago as new, wondrous, disruptive industry that was supposed to add to that city’s diversity and innovation. AirBNB’s has run roughshod over all rules, laws and efforts to protect San Francisco residents. Housing stock is short, rents are high, and it is now a city overrun with tourists rather than residents. San Francisco has battled, repeatedly, to put the genie back in the bottle and failed. Even now, AirBNB sues to block, or ignores, any attempt to make them accountable for their actions.

For once, as a city and state, let’s not ignore the history or facts. We in New Orleans should learn from San Francisco’s mistakes. Giving STRs the keys to our city, and our neighborhoods, will lead to the rest of us being evicted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Deal is getting worse all the time

I want to live

Yesterday the mayor made kind of a big deal out of his move to broker a "compromise" on the short term rental question. But when the compromise is structured such that we're still turning entire apartments over to tourists all over the city, it's difficult to see just what residents are gaining from that.
But Landrieu for the first time said Monday in no uncertain terms that he would not support the most controversial type of rentals, of whole homes in residential areas. Thousands of such rentals are listed on websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

"That's going to be off the table. That's not going to happen," Landrieu said.

At the same time, Landrieu and Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni — who has served as the administration's point man on the issue — said workable regulations will have to allow for other types of short-term rentals. Those likely would include renting rooms and half-doubles, renting full condos or apartments in commercial and mixed-use complexes, and time-limited rentals of full houses for up to 30 days a year.

That's kind of giving the whole game away, dude. But okay. "Whole home" is apparently "off the table" by some tortured definition.

Or maybe not.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared on Monday that full-time, whole home short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods were "off the table" for his administration.
It turns out, a lot depends on how you define "full time."

A pair of ordinances the administration submitted to council members Monday afternoon -- after consultation with sites like Airbnb and Homeway -- would allow anyone who owns or leases a property in a residential area to rent it out up to 15 times each year for as many as 120 days. That essentially means residential properties could be turned over to short-term visitors for a total of four months while still being considered a "temporary" rental.
In other words, yeah, we're just gonna keep letting them do it.  Again, not sure exactly, who is on the other end of this "compromise."  It's definitely not New Orleans renters. Oh wait here it is. 
But a key element in crafting the proposal appears to be getting buy-in from the sites that host listings for short-term rentals. In his email, Berni said, "If this framework is put in place, the major platforms have agreed to voluntarily collect taxes on behalf of (short term rental) permit holders, pay a fee into the (Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund) for affordable housing and provide certain pass-through data to the city on a quarterly basis, including the names and addresses of operators and the number of nights each operator has rented on the platform for the previous 12 months.

"This industry participation is critical to making anything work," he wrote.
LOL they wrote an ordinance based on that Airbnb told them they wanted. Way to look out for us, guys.  Thanks a lot.

Anyway, City Council takes this up on Thursday.  Can't wait to see how that goes. 

Tuesday Night Debateball

(Some of) Your 2016 Louisiana U.S. Senate Candidates take the field tonight in Ruston. The debate is carried by LPB and you can (probably) stream it here. I suppose this means we should note a few recent developments in the race this week to get ourselves hyped up.

First of all, there is this JMC poll out. More than anything else, it appears to show a little Campbellmentum.


There are people (real people... seriously reputable people.. not just me) out there who have been speculating for months about the possibility of sneaking two Democrats into the runoff somehow. Theoretically, this still might might be ever so slightly mathematically possible if we assume enough of that 16% undecided vote are Democrats.  It's hard to know just what the electorate will look like in this crazy year. But we do have this tantalizing take on the scenario via this week's Gambit cover story.
That outcome would be a nightmare for the GOP, and the chances of that nightmare becoming a reality increase as front-running Republicans play it safe on the issues in order to protect their respective bases around the state. For example, all are pro-life, pro-gun, pro-oil, anti-Obama, anti-Hillary Clinton, anti-union and, of course, pro-Trump — though some may be less enthusiastic in their support of the GOP presidential nominee after his latest pronouncements.

  The same could be said of the leading Democrats, except there are only two of them to divide the 40-42 percent of the electorate that reliably votes "D" in national elections. On the Republican side, at least four major candidates — plus at least two more with 5-8 percent of the vote on average — will be competing for the other 58-60 percent of the vote. Add to that another 5 to 8 percent gobbled up by the 15 or more also-rans and it's easy to see how "jungle" is an apt political metaphor in Louisiana this year.
One thing else to consider here is this particular national election could skew the electorate slightly more Dem than usual given waning enthusiasm for Trump among "moderate" (I know, I know, just go with it) Republicans combined with the much stronger and more professional "ground game" operation on behalf of Hillary and the general understanding... even among Trumpistas... that the election is pretty much over at this point.   Given all of that, it is conceivable that the Democrats get a significant edge in turnout. Consider also that the Republicans who do turn out are likely to be  Trump true believers who split more of their vote somewhere along the Duke-Flemming-Maness end of the field and you can still sort of see that Double D runoff happening.

Of course it's a long shot.  For what it's worth, JMC's own analysts  don't think it's worth mentioning in their narrative.  According to them, the demographic trends don't look favorable for Fayard.
Four candidates now have a viable path to the December runoff. Democrat Foster Campbell essentially has clinched one of the runoff spots, while Republicans John Fleming, John Kennedy, and Charles Boustany are competing for the second runoff spot.

Foster Campbell is essentially a lock for the runoff because his lead among black voters has expanded from 33-24% to 48-18% over Fayard; if undecided “leaners” are included, his lead among this demographic expands to 52-18%
Meanwhile, as for the Republican front-runners, there's a bit of news about them this week as well.  Hillariously, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune endorsed Boustany. Their editorial board writes that Boustany  is "poised to play a significant role in reforming the Affordable Care Act."  Actually he wants to repeal it and has boasted of the 60 times he voted to do just that. They also praise his work to "stop China from unfairly subsidizing shrimp to undercut U.S. producers."  But they don't mention his work to help his friends in the Louisiana seafood processing industry to "compete" with imports via the use of virtual slave labor.  But oh well.  Of course, we all remember last year when the T-P endorsed David Vitter for Governor. Maybe they just like candidates who prefer a certain kind of lifestyle.

Speaking of David Vitter, today's Stephanie Grace column is about the similarities in style and strategy between last year's failed Vitter campaign and this year's John Kennedy operation. 
But with Kennedy facing tough competition from fellow Republicans Charles Boustany and John Fleming for a spot in the December runoff, he's clearly hoping the plan that helped Vitter ward off GOP rivals Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle will work for him as well.

The strategy that Vitter's affiliated Super PAC used, its executive director Joel DiGrado explained at a post-gubernatorial election discussion at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, was to make sure that neither of the other Republicans emerged as the single alternative in voters' minds. So when one seemed to be rising in the polls, the group would target that person for attack.

“Every week, we had to reassess who we’re beating up,” said DiGrado, who likened the exercise to playing “whack-a-mole on a balance beam.”

Kennedy also has an affiliated Super PAC, called ESAFund, It's ostensibly independent even though most of its money came from Kennedy's state campaign fund, and it just so happens to be run by Vitter's former campaign manager, Kyle Ruckert. And it too is running harsh attacks against fellow Republicans, with an obvious eye toward keeping either of Kennedy's main GOP rivals from edging him out or joining him in an all-GOP runoff, when he'd clearly prefer to face a Democrat.

This, of course, is the part of the plan that worked for Vitter. His Super PAC's brutal attacks against Dardenne and Angelle may have kept either from catching up to him at the polls.
But being a big aggressive asshole to Dardenne and Angelle came back to haunt Vitter in the runoff when both of those guys were all too eager to hit back at him. Even at the height of his power, it was pretty much a given that Everybody Hated David Vitter. But they were also afraid of him. That worked for a long time. Until it didn't.  Everybody may hate John Kennedy too before this is over but I don't think anybody is all that scared of him.

Anyway, happy debating, kids.

Update: Sorry. I missed this little intrigue today between fringe Trumpista Rob Maness and The Man Who Would Be King Of All Fringe Trumpistas John Flemming. 
Louisiana Senate candidate Rob Maness said Tuesday he was asked to drop out of the race and throw his support to GOP opponent John Fleming in return for significant funding in a future race.

Maness told The Advocate that he met Paul Dickson over coffee at Abita Roasting Company in Madisonville on Monday afternoon. There, Dickson, who identified himself as the person “running the John Fleming PAC” and a decision maker with the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, offered support to Maness’ future political endeavors, he said.

“He told me that he would provide opportunities for my future, if I left the race for Senate and endorsed John Fleming. But, if I didn't do it before (Tuesday night’s statewide televised) debate, I'd be finished as a politician,” Maness said. “Although I'm not naive, the unethical threats and power play by the thugs behind the John Fleming campaign against me was shocking even by Louisiana standards.”
It's certainly a believable story. But then again, Maness is kind of a nut so who knows? Also, isn't there usually a private investigator filming surreptitiously whenever these little coffee shop meetings happen?  Maybe a tape will turn up.

Monday, October 17, 2016


This is about as deeply as our mayor cares to appear to think about anything
Landrieu said during an editorial board meeting on Monday with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune that he is believes that online short-term rental platforms like Airbnb fall under the category of "disruptive technologies" that are nearly impossible to put an end to altogether. As a result, Landrieu said he wants to see clear regulations imposed on short-term rentals that would allow them under "reasonable" conditions.

That would mean allowing short-term rentals that are clearly regulated and enforceable, and would generate enough money so that the city could pay for enforcing the regulations. Landrieu said he also wants to use money generated by short-term rental platform operators to help address the questions opponents often raise about affordability and the depletion of housing stock.
The kids and their disruption and their magic apps and stuff. No need to bother with the quaint old ways like enforcing laws or whatever if people don't want to follow them. The free market has spoken.  You'd think this means we don't need to cut every city department five percent in order hire more police, then.  But you'd be wrong about that. You'd also think that maybe we'd be less zealous about this.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu is proposing to nearly double the number of traffic cameras in New Orleans early next year, adding 55 new devices to watch for speeders and red-light runners.

The plan was announced as officials began rolling out the city's $614 million budget for 2017 early Monday. The proposal came during the city's Revenue Estimating Conference, which determines how much money the city has to spend.
Leave aside for a second the fact that traffic cameras are basically crooked tax farming operations that primarily benefit for-profit private contractors. Leave aside also the fact that cities across the country are growing so weary that they're no longer really considered "best practices" by any but the most regressive minded governments. Instead let's just ask what the heck is the point if we're no longer in the business of enforcing laws people are just going to "disrupt" anyway?

But there is that thing in there about "cost of enforcement." Apparently that's the threshold for determining where to focus the machinery of state now.  As long as there's revenue that can be gotten in a way that hurts poor people instead of our wealthier friends, we're all for it. But when poor people are being taken advantage of by those same wealthy friends and relatives, well there's nothing we can do. 

Tiny suppressions

George Orwell on humor:
A thing is funny when — in some way that is not actually offensive or frightening — it upsets the established order. Every joke is a tiny revolution. If you had to define humour in a single phrase, you might define it as dignity sitting on a tin-tack. Whatever destroys dignity, and brings down the mighty from their seats, preferably with a bump, is funny. And the bigger they fall, the bigger the joke. It would be better fun to throw a custard pie at a bishop than at a curate.
And now every "tiny revolution" has to be put down
By Monday morning, however, the satirist’s joy at confusing enraged conservatives reached new heights when his tweet was reported as genuine by the right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, who demanded to know if someone in a position of authority would “follow up on this.” It apparently never occurred to Hoft that he could have followed up himself, by attempting to contact the Californian who posted the tweet, or by scanning the rest of his Twitter feed, which is devoted to political comedy.

After Hoft’s post was linked to from the home page of the Drudge Report, it was shared more than 90,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

Within hours, the fictional story had also been discussed, as fact, by Rush Limbaugh, and prompted investigations from both the United States Postal Service and the Secretary of State of Ohio, Jon Husted.
Something is going on here beyond just elites and authorities being stupid or having no sense of humor. It's more insidious. The new thing is a pose. Every joke or piece of satire is taken at face value.. not by accident.. but specifically with an eye toward suppressing dissent. And it's not strictly a right-wing phenomenon. It's also well-practiced by Hillary wing Democrats. Whining about "the tone" is the last refuge of every scumbag. But the scumbags are in charge. And this affected humorless passive aggression is their m/o.

Remember, "Remember me" hits?

They sure did nail the hell out of Cam a lot on Sunday.
The pass rush allowed the Saints to build a 21-0 lead as the Panthers' first four drives ended with three punts and an interception. All of those hits, even if they don't end up resulting in sacks, have a cumulative effect on the quarterback.

"There's an attrition in regards to the quarterback," Payton said. "You get a pass that's thrown quicker than it needs to be, because there's a clock in the quarterback's head that begins to change, and that's every one of them. ... You can't help but be affected when you're getting hurried or hustled or hit."
Has Goodell seen this quote?

Governor Landry wins a round

The judge says, actually,  Governor Landry can overrule Governor Edwards if he wants to.  

Attorney General Jeff Landry can reject dozens of state legal contracts because they include language preventing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people -- among other reasons, according to a Baton Rouge state court ruling Monday (Oct. 17).

Judge Donald Johnson, of the 19th Judicial District Court, determined Gov. John Bel Edwards does not have the right to sue Landry and force the attorney general to approve legal contracts with a LGBT nondiscrimination provision Landry finds objectionable.

The judge said state law is hazy about whether Landry or Edwards has the final word over legal contracts, which made granting the governor's wishes for forcing the Landry's hand on the contracts difficult.

"I believe that the law is uncertain -- and it does not provide the court with a clear path," Johnson said from the bench, adding: "The court denies the request of our governor."

The governor's office said they will either appeal the court's decision or file a new lawsuit that might use a different type of legal angle to get the contracts past the attorney general. Either way, they don't plan to take LGBT workplace protections out of legal contracts until other avenues have been exhausted first. But the process could take months, bringing some areas of state government to a grinding halt.
A "grinding halt." Just because Governor Landry and friends feel like being mean to teh gayszz.  Earlier today, Governor Landry's pals signed a letter attesting to their own status as deplorable basketcases themselves. There's a list of them here. It includes two of the highest ranking Republicans in the legislature.
Two of them are members of the House Republican leadership. State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, is head of the House Republican caucus and Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

And "lesser evil" is still evil

Hillary Clinton is definitely going to be President.  Shouldn't we start talking about how objectively bad that comparatively less bad thing will be?
Since primary season, we have heard variations on a theme from self-styled progressives: Clinton isn’t perfect, but a Donald Trump presidency would be so disastrous that we have to elect a safe, centrist candidate to stop him. Therefore, they had to put aside their critiques of Hillary in favor of preventing the rise of the Third Reich in America.

Now that we’re all but certain that Trump will not, in fact, win, they should feel liberated.

They can stop focusing on how terrifying a potential Trump presidency would be and begin to focus more honestly on how terrible Clinton’s track record has been and likely will continue to be at home and around the world. Every liberal and progressive who has held back on criticizing Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street, or the disturbing revelations of the content of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, or her incredibly destructive foreign policy past from Libya to Honduras and her all-but-assured hawkish foreign policy future, or her role in pushing welfare reform, or her palling around with ghoulish war criminals like Henry Kissinger, and her pride at winning the endorsements of neoconservatives whose hands are dripping with blood like John Negroponte.

But strangely, it’s been over a week since the tape was released, and we haven’t heard from much from those supposedly reluctant Clinton supporters suggesting any kind of shift
Wonder what gives with our so-called liberal Hillary Dem friends. Maybe the problem is they really do believe in this stuff. The lesson of 2016 is either that or that they hardly believe in anything at all. I'm still trying to work out which is worse. Gonna have at least 4 years to figure it out.

Populist football

There are a lot of compelling aspects to the DACOACHO storyline taking place in Baton Rouge this year. There's the obvious hometown boy facet. There's the improbable coincidence of Orgeron finding himself in the same situation at LSU he once was in at USC.  But the best story is probably the "second chance" narrative about a man who has gotten his break once and failed coming back a little wiser this time.

Specifically, Orgeron's story is about learning to be less of a dick.
At USC, he would do simple things like cater Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for his players and have people like Dr. Dre and Ray Lewis talk to the team. He gave hand-written notes to every member of the USC band, thanking them for what they do.
Trojans safety Dion Bailey spoke in 2013 about how refreshing Orgeron was:
He really emphasized that this time around being a head coach he wants to do it the right way, he really learned a lot from his time at Ole Miss, he asked us our input about a lot of things on the team, and he really inputted our input into the schedules and event-planning, things like that. He's always looking out for what's better for us, what makes us comfortable, taking care of our bodies. That really made us appreciate him, and from then on, guys have been behind Coach O and would run through a brick wall for him.
At LSU, he’s using those same practices.

“Let ’em have their cell phones and headsets,” Orgeron said in a recent interview with SB Nation. “Let ’em dress the way they want! Let ’em be who they are, as long as it’s respectful. Don’t put shackles on them. And I know it works. I know it works. I had kids at USC hugging me, crying, when I left. Begging me, ‘Don’t leave.’"

In that same interview, he added that part of being both a good and impactful head coach starts with showing players that you actually care about them.

“Before, I didn’t let them know I cared. I was the D-line coach. You can’t coach a receiver like a D-lineman. I just realized, here are some of the things I’ve got to change. I started writing, and I came to a realization: If I treat these boys like I treat my sons, I think we’re gonna be fine. How do you treat your kids? When my boys come home, I cook ’em a steak.

“That’s my motto now: Treat ’em like you would your sons. And hey, I’m Cajun. We eat a lot."
There you go, Coach. Give the people what they want. A steak in every pot.. or something like that. We can get behind that. 

With this going on at LSU and the Saints seeming like they're at least going to be interesting to watch as they struggle to 7-9 or thereabouts, football season is suddenly looking fun again. 

Year of the bang

It's city budget season, y'all.  There's an unveiling scheduled for the mayor's 2017 proposal at a press conference today. But voters have an opportunity to significantly alter the outlook by passing the a millage on the ballot next month (CORRECTION:On the December ballot) to shore up funding for the firefighters' pension settlement. We rejected that the last time around because it was tied up with a second tax meant for hiring more police. Those issues have been separated but the mayor is still intent on punishing us for not giving him his NOPD money. At least that's what this sounds like.
The main question hanging over the budget is how the administration will respond to an April vote of the people rejecting two property taxes that would have funneled $26.6 million a year to the New Orleans Police Department and the firefighters' pension system.

While the city is hoping to bring in some new revenue from other sources, without the defeated police tax the budget will include cuts aimed at providing more money to pay for NOPD expansion as well as other key priorities, Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni said.
They're also, as is their habit lately, talking about squeezing more money out of us via regressive fees much the way they did last year when they boosted rates and hours at parking meters. This article doesn't have specifics on that but its author is reporting from the revenue estimating conference this morning where we are getting some hints.

More traffic cameras

A liquor tax

They mention permit fees from the WTC development although that project is still in legal limbo for now.  Also there is this.
There is also one new stream of money that's already been approved. Officials expect a change in state law this year allowing sales tax to be collected on purchases at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome could bring in about $1 million.
I'm going to have to look this up when I have time later. But the way I remember this happening last year was the legislature almost accidentally violated Tom Benson's lease on the Superdome by making concessions there taxable during the Spring special session.  Later they had to scramble back and restore Benson's privileges. So I don't know if this new change in state law referred to above is in compliance with that fix or something different.

Update: Nevermind. Got the answer via Twitter. Athletic events are excluded from the sales tax. Figures.

Anyway, we await the mayor's budget launch speech.  His hype man says it's gonna be big.
The city is expected to provide more details on a $2.5 billion plan to repair or rebuild a substantial portion of the city's roadways over the next eight years. Much of that money will be contained in the capital budget, a separate document that outlines infrastructure spending.

"2017 is going to be the year that kicks off with a bang," Berni said.