Saturday, December 31, 2016

Do better, years

Sure sure 2016 was The Worst Ever. We're all so convinced of that for whatever reason. But consider, for a moment, that [CURRENT YEAR] has always been terrible.

Which is what we were thinking on New Year's Day 2016

And at the end of 2014

And 2012

And 2011

And, well, it kinda just goes on like this

The lesson, I think, is that we're never satisfied at this point every year and that's probably not such a bad thing.  Our world is full of injustice and things that make us sad generally. There's no reason to sit around and content ourselves with it.  2017 is likely going to be a lot like 2016 was except Donald Trump will be the President.  That's pretty fucked up, right?  Why should we normalize these crappy years? The 2010s have been rubbish.  We need to to better.  We can do better.  But doing better starts with admitting there's a problem.

So, yeah, let's tell 2016 to fuck off.  But let's also not expect our problems to magically go away when we flip the calendar. This is no time to tune out.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Or we could just build and maintain affordable housing for people

As long as our preferred policy involves giving money to developers so they can build nice things for rich people and then banking on their sense of "moral obligation" later, this is going to keep happening.
Some of the complex's tenants who are in low-income apartments - including a 95-year-old woman and many with disabilities - have been told they have to leave by the end of the year as the company converts those units to market-rate apartments.

“This is the beginning of a movement and we’re here to say that as long as these tenants want to stay we’re going to stay with them,” Gavrielle Gemma said. “We shall not move.”

At the end of the rally, tenants and supporters filled the lobby of Landrieu’s office calling for a meeting with the mayor. Walker said the mayor was unavailable but held a meeting with several tenants and administration officials including Councilwoman Susan Guidry, Landrieu's Chief of Staff Brooke Smith and Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Hebert.

“We think it’s absolutely important that when those timetables are done, when they’ve met their legal obligation, there’s a moral responsibility that companies have to work with their residents to give them enough heads up that those affordable units will change and we expect this company should work with their residents as well,” Walker said. When asked whether the administration considers American Can to be acting in an immoral fashion, Walker said, “I wouldn’t say that.”
Notice here as well that in the opinion of the Landrieu Administration, it's perfectly within the scope of that "moral responsibility" to kick the poors to the curb so long as you "give them enough heads up."

Let's "save" everything by killing it dead

The Trump Presidency is going to be so much fun.  Here is how this will go. The Republicans, who control basically every branch of government at every level for at least the next two years, are going to dismantle everything they can find and sell the parts of it to the wealthiest oligarchs.
President-elect Donald Trump is considering moving the Department of Veterans Affairs toward privatization, a transition team official said Wednesday, a policy decision major veterans’ groups have said they would oppose.

Mr. Trump is considering changing the department to allow some veterans to bypass the VA heath-care system completely and get care exclusively from private-sector hospitals and clinics, the official said. It is an option that could give veterans full choice over their health care, but which many veterans groups argue is the first step toward privatization and one that will reduce the quality of health care over the long term.
Next, Trump, will bray and tweet and boast about the tremendous job he himself did of very bigly saving the VA or public education or urban infrastructure or whatever the thing is we're actually turning over to robber barons that week.  Medicare first, probably
A great many medical providers adjust their prices based on how defenseless the patient is, and bleed the weakest ones for every last red cent, often with preposterously inflated charges for things like aspirin and bandages. A 2015 study looked at the worst price gougers in the country and found 50 hospitals that charged uninsured people roughly 10 times the actual cost of care.

Key to this practice is something called "balance billing," and it's why the American Medical Association is strongly supporting Donald Trump's pick of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare. Balance billing is forbidden for Medicare enrollees, but Price wants to allow it — thus allowing doctors and hospitals to devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors.
And, since we've seen this cycle play out so many times now we know that it gets followed up by a lot of "both sides" punditry and resolute decision on the part of Democrats to definitely not put up much of a fight

The only problem here is this is where we used to say, "And that keeps on going until they blow up Social Security..." but that's pretty much where we are now.  So what even happens next? 


Grey court

That's the basketball court at Laurence Square (corner Napoleon and Magazine) this morning.  Yesterday it received a pressure wash and coat of grey primer paint.

This was last done back during the summer of 2012 when the court was refurbished and rebranded by Richard's Disposal and the then New Orleans Hornets.

Blue and grey

Painted court

Richard's Disposal Court at Laurence Square

Signage near the court commemorates the dedication in a happy comic sans typeface beneath the now lost to history "Fleur-de-Bee" logo.

Wither the fleur de bee?

Just a few short months after this court was painted, the Hornets announced they would become the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013.  The newly painted court stayed the same, though. I wonder if they're fixing that today.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The problem with this state legislature is nobody wants to do any work

In this column, Grace hints that we're about to see some state legislators bail early on their terms but she doesn't name any names. We know JP Morrell and and Walt Leger are thinking about running for mayor so there's two for your consideration.

The other reason Grace gives us for these possible early exits is it turns out hanging around Baton Rouge fighting over budget cuts is actually hard work.
Lately, though, the job has become a pretty tough slog. The budget news is so bad that it's hard to give constituents anything they want, or to avoid voting for fiscally responsible but politically painful service cuts and tax increases. This past year featured two long special sessions on top of the regular session, and at least one special session is likely in 2017.

That means lawmakers are spending more time away from jobs and families, and coming home with less to show for it. And while there's at least some hope they'll tackle budget reform this year and set the state on a more sustainable path, the situation is certainly not going to improve in the short term.
That's a shame, though. Because while it seems like a heavy responsibility, a major fiscal reform package is also a big opportunity for those who choose to see it as such.  An aggressive lawmaker could really make a name for his or herself pushing for fairer ways to raise revenue that burden the state's working poor less. Sure, that's not going to win you many friends among the usual donors. But what if it were possible to succeed in politics running against the entrenched interests of "establishment elites" or some such?


Leon Cannizzaro is an asshole.
Walter Johnson was walking down a street in Uptown New Orleans a week before Thanksgiving in 2013 when he noticed a Jeep Cherokee with the driver's side window down.

He glanced inside and saw a laptop computer and $15 in cash — a $10 bill and a $5.

Johnson snatched the bills. He left the computer.

As it turns out, the Jeep was a law enforcement "bait vehicle," and Johnson was the catch of the day.

He was found guilty of simple burglary and illegal possession of stolen things at a trial in April 2015, and Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office promptly invoked the state's habitual-offender law.

Johnson, who had prior convictions for simple burglary, heroin possession and cocaine distribution, was deemed a four-time felon. Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman sentenced him in October 2015 to a mandatory life prison term with no chance for parole.

NAFTA is dead Long live Super NAFTA

One of the reasons Trump won was a campaign promise to scrap and renegotiate international trade deals like NAFTA. What he didn't say was that the renegotiated deals will probably be worse than the originals.
In his campaign Trump raised a long list of complaints against our trading partners, most importantly China. The list includes managing currency values to preserve a trade surplus, inadequate market access to our firms, and the failure to respect U.S. copyrights and patents, most importantly on prescription drugs.

Given his announced appointees, it seems very likely that he will prioritize the demands that serve corporate interests, not U.S. workers. In particular, he is likely to continue the push of prior administrations for longer and stronger patent protections on prescription drugs.

It is these protections that make drugs expensive….The industry has placed a priority of making people in developing countries pay more for their drugs. This both blocks off a potential source of cheap drugs to people in the United States and prevents the sort of dramatic contrasts that we see today between the list price of [brand name drugs] and their generic version. It is likely that Trump will adopt the pharmaceutical industry’s agenda in this area. This is bad news for workers in the U.S., and obviously very bad news for people in the developing world.

How long has Joe Jaeger been going by "Juni"?

Seems like Juni really wants to start a conversation about how the city might help incentivize Jaeger's building "back into commerce."

It's a fun game, anyway.  Will this building, Six Flags, or the still delayed WTC get done first?  There could be a way to bet on this but one imagines that might engender its own level of cheating. OR it could spur action somewhere. May be worth a shot now that I think about it.

Airbnb "praised rules adopted in New Orleans"

In a better world, this would be the first sign something is amiss.
Still, Airbnb decided to cooperate with limits on home-sharing implemented in London and Amsterdam, and dropped a lawsuit challenging fines against people who post apartments in New York that were illegally converted to short-term rentals.

It also praised rules adopted in New Orleans, which limit room rentals to 90 days per year in non-owner-occupied homes, and allow website registrations to be passed through to city enforcers to make sure they’re on the level.

For Rhiannon Enlil, 34, the reforms didn’t come soon enough to stop her eviction from an apartment not far from New Orleans’s French Quarter, whose bars, music venues and restaurants attract tourists from across the globe. Her landlord said he wanted her two-bedroom apartment to rent out on the web. Enlil, a bartender, has been living with her boyfriend since June.
The "reforms didn't come soon enough." In fact nothing that will make a difference here has arrived or is expected any time soon.  If an apartment can be Airbnbed 90 days out of the year, that apartment is effectively off the local market.  Everybody knows this. Nobody says this for some reason. It's remarkable the things we'll tolerate around here. It's almost as if we've been conditioned to believe just living and working a minimal level lifestyle here is some sort of special privilege we don't deserve. 
“I’m deeply in love with New Orleans, and I will live in a refrigerator box under the highway in order to stay here,” Enlil said. “But there are a lot of people I know who are talking about how they can’t afford to live here anymore. They’re the very fiber of the city, like people in the service industry and people who are musicians, who don’t make a lot of money.”
Those boxes under the bridge are Airbnbing for $200 a night during Carnival. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


The Native American inhabitants of the Grand Bayou village are being asked to move. The state's coastal plan says the cost of protecting them is too great compared to the "risk" of their continuing to exist there The cost to them of moving, though, is immeasurable.
“The only thing they offer us is to move. But we can’t move,” said Rosina Phillipe, 60, an elder and spokeswoman for the Atakapas-Ishak/Chawaska tribe. “For us, home is more than the building you live in. It’s everything in the environment that surrounds you. If you leave, you become someone else. You are no longer the same person. No longer the same people.

“That would kill our culture and our future entirely.”
Just down the river, Venture Global is going to build an $8.5 billion liquified natural gas plant and pipeline. The Governor and other state political leaders are excited about the benefits of this project. They calculate that the "250 jobs" and profits/strategic positioning to be realized by their friends in the energy industry outweigh the "risks" of protecting the land on which the facility will sit.

Those friends will never be asked to pay for the now irreparable damage their activities have caused in the Louisiana wetlands over the past century.  Those costs will continue to be borne fully by the communities they've destroyed along the way.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nobody actually lives here

Nobody goes to the games either
Longtime Saints fans have been grumbling this year about the way other teams' fans are making themselves loud in a building that used to be considered a noticeable boost for the Saints.

“In some losses, it sounds like it’s for the other team,” said Larry Rolling, who has been attending Saints games as a season ticket holder for more than 30 years.

Rolling sits in Section 135, where he is known for making a different sign for every game. He’s a vocal Saints fan, and he said it has been disappointing to see some of the colors he has seen.

“We had that neon green in the stands,” he said, referring to the Oct. 30 game against the Seahawks, a 25-20 Saints win.

“That orange, it just sticks out,” he continued, referring to a Nov. 13 two-point loss to the Broncos.

The visiting fans were especially noticeable at those two games, along with the game against the Lions, Rolling said.
People are ready with explanations and excuses. The only one I'm sympathetic to, though, is that tickets and concessions are expensive.  People cope with that by selling their tickets to a game or two. That's fine. Has been going on forever. Although it's become far more common that the buyers are visiting fans rather than locals because nobody actually lives here. A lot of Saints season tickets are held by people and businesses who aren't necessarily based in town and drive in for games from surrounding parishes and from Mississippi.  If they can't make it, either because money is tight or the team isn't doing so well, they sell via Stubhub to tourists Airbnbing in from wherever.

You can say whatever you want about how it's common practice in other cities, or a reflection of the NFL's marketing strategy, or new technologies, etc. All of that would be true. But it's also a clear indication that our city and many other cities like it is no longer the kind of place where people live and work anymore. Rather it is an exclusive and hollow showcase of conspicuous consumption for rootless elites, and luxury travelers.

Our cities are "renewed" in the new century. They are full of life and lifestyle events.  But nobody actually lives there.

Best practices

Good to see the redevelopment of Charity has such a fine example to follow.
Former Gov. Bobby Jindal sought proposals to redevelop the million-square-foot building late in his administration. Five groups submitted ideas for the site.

But when Gov. John Bel Edwards took office early this year, he restarted the process, with administration officials saying they were hoping to cast a wider net and get additional ideas.

There’s no specific timeline in place for seeking new proposals, Alario said, though getting the buildings cleaned out could help entice developers who might have worried about the cost of such an effort.

“I don’t think there’s any particular rush,” Alario, R-Westwego, said. “I think we’re looking for the best prospect both for the city of New Orleans and for the state of Louisiana.”

He pointed to the process New Orleans used to find a company to redevelop the World Trade Center, which yielded a plan to put a Four Seasons hotel in the building, as a model the state could use as it seeks proposals.
Seeing as how we're a couple of do-overs and a year long lawsuit into WTC still not getting done, that seems like a great model to work with.  Also, does Charity get done first or does Six Flags? 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Yard sale

Should be some interesting junk out on the lawn at Charity.  Might want to stop by and pick through it.
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans confirmed Friday that contracts were awarded to two Louisiana companies that will clean out Charity and the Lapeyre-Miltenberger building, which once housed specialized services and the state's first school of physical therapy.

Leslie Capo, a spokeswoman for LSU Health, said Zimmer Eschete Service II LLC will oversee cleanup of the shuttered hospital and Insul-Tech Insulation Technologies Inc. will handle the L&M building.

Year end lists

The Least Important Writers of 2016 Hard to pick a favorite here.  Probably, because it's 2016, will have to go with the man who helped invent "fake news" as we know it.
Daou, who once sued Arianna Huffington for credit for inventing The Huffington Post, is a longtime “digital strategist” of no particular account who, in concert with oddly-coiffed former right-wing hatchet man-turned-Democratic hack David Brock, ran an “avidly and unabashedly pro-Hillary” online news outlet called Blue Nation Review (later known by some other, even dumber name) throughout the campaign.

Daou and his site encapsulated the idea, which came less from the Clinton campaign itself than from the Clinton camp’s long tail of hangers-on and distantly orbiting affiliates, that personal adulation of Hillary Clinton must be mandatory and rigidly enforced if she was to win the election. Blue Nation Review ran on the principle that if enough poorly paid bloggers and “researchers,” flanked by Twitter eggs, repeated often enough that all critical coverage of Hillary Clinton was biased and unfair, the great masses would awaken to the truth that they actually Loved Hillary, Deeply and Personally. This was the dangerous myth that consumed of so many Clinton supporters—that their personal affection for her ought to be universal, and that, if it wasn’t, it was some nefarious outside force—Berniebros, mostly, this time—that was to blame. It occurred to none of them that messaging based around what Hillary Clinton would do for Americans might be more successful than messaging based around what Americans ought to do for Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Warring on Christmas

We made eighty something chocolate chip cookies last night. As one does.


Last night we also watched the Alastair Sim version of that story where we learn it's OK to be a ruthless dickhead one's whole life so long as it's in pursuit of the riches necessary to buy everyone off just before you die.  Tom Benson has been in that phase of the cycle for a few years now making sure they put his name on football fields and cancer hospitals and stuff.  Strange that he even cares that much.  The Ghost of Christmas Future could show him his grave, I guess, but he already knows about the statue so it's not that scary.

Bronze Tom in glory

Still, there's no way to go back and make this not have happened.
Among the book's most revealing passages:

-- The grassroots effort by local civic and business leaders to ally with the NFL and save the Saints during the chaotic months after Hurricane Katrina.

"He (Benson) was leaving," said John Koerner, owner of Koerner Capital of LLC, who attended summit meetings of top New Orleans business leaders and NFL executives, including Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, in late 2005 and early 2006 in order to gauge and rally support for the Saints. "There was no B.S. about it. He was leaving, and we did everything we could" to change his mind.
Benson and his acolytes will keep trying, though.  But it's a ponderous chain, Tom.

John Bel Edwards wants you to be aware of your responsibility when you get shot by police

If you happen to survive, the state wants to make sure you know how to behave.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said it's not just up to the police officers to improve their relationship with the public, but the community but the community also has to do its part to communicate better with law enforcement.

"We have too many law enforcement officers scared of the public and too many members of the public scared of law enforcement," Edwards said during an end-of-the-year news conference held at the governor's mansion Wednesday (Dec. 21).

"Members of the public, too, have a responsibility to make sure they are interacting with the police in a proper fashion as well," the governor said.

The governor said the state is looking into adding some training for the public about how to behave at traffic stops and in other situations where they interact with the police, possibly as part of the driver's education classes in Louisiana.
Meanwhile, the Governor "has all the confidence in the world" the recent FBI raid of his brother's office will be no big deal.  
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spent the last few moments of his end-of-the-year news conference Wednesday (Dec. 21) sticking up for his younger brother, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, whose office was raided last week by the FBI. "Without any fear of contradiction or ever being proven wrong, I can tell you he did not engage in anything improper, much less illegal," Edwards said. "I have all the confidence in the world in that, and I think that time will bear that out."

The governor said he also doesn't have any idea why the FBI raided his brother's office. The FBI is investigating two former Tangipahoa sheriff deputies, who are being brought up on federal charges for selling narcotics. It's unclear how Daniel Edwards fits into that investigation -- if he fits in at all.
But if it does happen that Sheriff Edwards has been selling drugs on the side, we'll make sure to get his constituents trained up on how to handle that real soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The team is not all that bad

Said this the other day about the Saints.  I don't really get what fans want out of their entertainment dollar anymore around here. The team is fun to watch. They aren't gonna win the Superbowl but they did that once already and I'm pretty sure we all said we were OK to die now when that happened. They more than likely won't be in the playoffs but we've spent most of our lives watching them not do that and things have been fun enough, right? 

2016 has been an interesting year. The Saints aren't world beaters but they also aren't garbage. They compete well in almost every game and almost every game leaves us with something interesting to talk about. They're also on track to set some records.
The Saints have a chance this year to become just the fifth team in NFL history with three wide receivers who tally 1,000 yards. The last team to accomplish the feat was the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

Cooks has already reached the mark as he's up to 1,056 yards after his career-high 186 yards in Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals. Thomas has 883 yards and Snead has 792, so both of them will have to produce well in the final two games to reach 1,000.

Asked about the Saints' trio of receivers, coach Sean Payton said he looks at the group as a whole, and Thomas said something similar when asked if the Saints were the top group in the NFL.

"I believe so, and I feel like that's how we approach the game, not necessarily as a trio but as a receiver room," Thomas said. "And just when we have Drew Brees (under) center, we all want to be at our best."
Kinda funny how those numbers can happen and your quarterback somehow doesn't make the Pro-Bowl but I guess when nobody is paying attention this is what you get. 

Merry Christmas to the landlords

New Orleans, as you may know, has a bit of an affordable housing crisis.  Our political leaders thus far have responded by prioritizing the needs of developers, landlords, and, I guess, "the platforms" responsible for enabling short term rentals in neighborhoods where nobody is actually able to live anymore.

Their favorite policy tool has been the so-called "density bonus" recently championed by Latoya Cantrell and adopted into the CZO which allows developers to build nice things for rich people so long as they set aside a very small percentage of available units at reduced rents. We've written a bunch of times about how this is pretty much just a shell game sop to luxury developers.  So it's not too too surprising that our elected representatives are so enamored of it.

Once upon a time a similar policy was praised for making possible the development of the American Can Company into (mostly) luxury (but with a token amount of affordable) apartments.
Several other builders had tried to develop the American Can project but failed to come up with the necessary financing. Mr. Kabakoff used public-private partnerships to finance the deal. His first mortgage consists of $29 million in tax-exempt bonds from the State of Louisiana's private activity bond cap program. The program mandates that 20 percent of the housing units be set aside for low-income renters.
Pres has made this trick of diverting taxpayer subsidies into profits a specialty over the years. He didn't exactly invent this scam, though.  It has made Donald Trump very rich, for instance.
The way Donald J. Trump tells it, his first solo project as a real estate developer, the conversion of a faded railroad hotel on 42nd Street into the sleek, 30-story Grand Hyatt, was a triumph from the very beginning.

The hotel, Mr. Trump bragged in “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 best seller, “was a hit from the first day. Gross operating profits now exceed $30 million a year.”

But that book, and numerous interviews over the years, make little mention of a crucial factor in getting the hotel built: an extraordinary 40-year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million to date in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.

The project set the pattern for Mr. Trump’s New York career: He used his father’s, and, later, his own, extensive political connections, and relied on a huge amount of assistance from the government and taxpayers in the form of tax breaks, grants and incentives to benefit the 15 buildings at the core of his Manhattan real estate empire

Our local representatives love Donald Trump.  Or at least they did before he got into politics.  In 2007, the City Council enthusiastically thumbsed-up a proposed Trump Tower development on Poydras Street.
The 1.6 million-square-foot tower, estimated to cost about $400 million, would fill most of the largely vacant block bounded by Poydras, Camp, Natchez and Magazine streets. It would be 716 feet high, plus a 126-foot spire, and would contain 734 luxury condominium and hotel units and a 715-space garage.

Florida developer Cliff Mowe said he hopes to break ground this summer on what would be Louisiana's tallest building. Construction is expected to take 28 months, putting completion in late 2009.

New York real estate magnate Donald Trump announced on Aug. 25, 2005, that he would join a team of Florida developers in building a 70-story tower in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina hit four days later, but within two weeks Donald Trump Jr. said the developers would go ahead with the project.

Although financing has not been nailed down, Mowe has said several large lenders are interested in the project, in part because of Trump's involvement.

No one spoke against the proposed tower at the council meeting. The plans were approved 5-0 on the recommendation of Councilwoman Stacy Head, whose district includes the site. "This is Trump," Head told her colleagues in asking for approval. "Woo-hoo."
Woo-hoo, sure. Except by this time, the post-Katrina market for labor and materials was already souring Trump on this project. The 2008 financial crash is said to have killed it entirely. But, if you remember, this was a period during which federal recovery funding was causing New Orleans to "buck the trend" economically speaking.  Taxpayer money was pouring into the area. If only someone (looking at you, Ed Blakely) had offered Trump a sufficiently sized bucket of it, our skyline might be blessed with this jewel today.

Anyway so we never got Trump down here but we still had Pres Kabacoff and that was plenty, thank you very much. Pres hasn't risen quite as high as Trump has but he's done ok for himself in our small pond. His most recent project is even redirecting public money to Airbnb so it's nice to see him keep on the cutting edge like that.

Meanwhile, back at the Can Company, that tax exemption just expired.  You won't believe what happens next.
NEW ORLEANS -- Michael Esnault and his partner Anne Tucker have lived in the American Can Apartments building for the past six years, but they’ll soon be former tenants – through no choice of their own. They recently found a note taped to their door notifying them that they had until the end of December to vacate their apartment.

"(It’s) definitely a slap in the face," Esnault said. "I always paid the bills on time and everything else. What got me is the corporate greed."

Dozens of families are losing their leases at the Mid-City apartment building as the operators phase out all of their subsidized and low-income units. Esnault and Tucker are leasing one of the 53 units in the building set aside for low- and fixed-income families.

The American Can was built in part with government subsidies, including $29 million in tax-exempt bonds. Those bonds required the owner to keep 20 percent of the units for affordable housing for a minimum of 15 years.

That requirement expires at the end of January.

Those tenants are now losing their leases.
Where will these renters go now?  Well, you know, we're working on that. Just gotta get the right subsidy to the right millionaire first.
On Tuesday, the IDB voted to provide the project with a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT.  The PILOT allows the developers to pay $56,000 a year in taxes during construction, $160,000 a year once construction is complete, annual 2.5% elevations each year thereafter, and a $75,000 bump in 2025.

The IDB estimates that the PILOT will save about $6 million over the 12 years of the deal, while developers claim that the project will generate $29 million more in property taxes for the city over a 50-year period.

The development site is bounded by the Lafitte Greenway, Jefferson Davis Parkway, North Scott and Conti Streets.  In addition to the one and two bed room apartments, the mixed-use project will have ground floor retail and restaurants and parking spaces for 570 cars. The projected project cost is $66.5 million.

Entrepreneur Sydney Torres purchased the nine-acre site in 2015, and Edwards Communities has it under contract to purchase the site from Torres.  Our sources tell us that Torres plans to keep the front of the parcel closest to Bayou St. John for future development, while giving the back portion of the parcel to Edwards Communities for this project.

Edwards Communities secured city approval for the project in November and a density bonus after agreeing to include 14 affordable units in the project.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas to the evicted!  


It's late but Leon Cannizzaro is making a run at asshole of the year... locally, anyway.  The DA is having a fit because he's lost about 5 percent of his budget in order that the city can help fund a barely functional public defender's office. He's retaliating by taking it out on poor people caught up in bullcrap.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has reversed a 4-year-old policy of funneling state misdemeanor cases to Municipal Court and has started sending them to Criminal District Court in response to a recent cut in city funding for his office.

Non-levitating train to Disneyworld

It's almost a decade now since Bobby Jindal's fantasy nightmare about levitating trains to Disneyland killed our chance at a high speed rail project in Louisiana. At that time, the newly inaugurated President Obama had raised HOPEs that a forthcoming federal stimulus bill would fund our decades long dream of commuter rail between New Orleans and Baton Rouge as part of a longer line connecting us with Houston.   But Jindal helped introduce America to the style of paranoid obstructionism that would go on to help Republicans block a substantial portion of Obama's agenda throughout his two terms. It's been fun.

Anyway, it looks like we might be finally getting that rail service after all. It won't levitate or anything, but the plan is for these trains to actually go to Disneyworld.
Monday, the Southern Rail Commission distributed $2.5 million in federal funds to design, build and improve train stations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A quarter-million went to Baton Rouge to develop plans for a train station at the old Entergy campus near the corner of Government and 14th streets.

The goal is to revive the passenger route between Orlando and New Orleans, which already has lines that run to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. There would be a separate spur for riders to commute between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
As always with this, it's not a good idea to hold one's breath. But if you are the optimistic type you might expect to see the BR-NO line up and running around 2020 or so. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

St. Joseph

The water supply in St. Joseph, Louisiana has (finally) been declared unsafe by Governor Edwards.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a public health emergency for the town of St. Joseph after officials discovered elevated levels of lead and copper in several water samples. 

"Out of an abundance of caution," the Louisiana Department of Health recommends that residents do not use the town's tap water for drinking or "personal consumption, including making ice, brushing teeth or using it for food preparation and rinsing of foods," the governor's office said in a news release today. (Friday, Dec 16)
This is slightly different from the public advisory issued back in February which told everyone the brown water was safe to drink. Better late than never, I guess. 
The state Department of Health and Hospitals noted in a report Tuesday that several maintenance deficiencies were found during its December inspection, including a deficient filtration system and rusty tanks.

The water then flows through the aging system to homes and businesses. Between May 2012 and January 2016, St. Joseph issued 20 notices advising customers to boil their water before use as a precaution.

Repairing the system would cost about $8 million.

“This is a problem that is common to a lot of small communities around Louisiana. They’re not able to raise the funds to maintain the system and meet higher standards,” Guidry said.

The national media has taken notice of the problems in St. Joseph, which state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, attributes to the situation in Flint. He welcomes the publicity, saying it is helping his efforts to secure the funding necessary for upgrading the water system in a town — like many in northeast Louisiana — that simply can’t afford the repairs.

“In these very poor and rural areas, it’s hard to keep the streets up, keep up the water systems and sewers because they don’t have a lot of tax base,” Thompson said. Forty percent of St. Joseph’s population lives below the poverty line.
Having seen this story and, of course, the saga of the tainted water supply in Flint, Michigan this year, one wonders how many more places are facing a similar predicament.  The answer is a lot.  In fact, a recent Reuters investigation found almost 3,000 areas with higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint. Their story starts in a place called St. Joseph.
ST. JOSEPH, Missouri – On a sunny November afternoon in this historic city, birthplace of the Pony Express and death spot of Jesse James, Lauranda Mignery watched her son Kadin, 2, dig in their front yard. As he played, she scolded him for putting his fingers in his mouth.

In explanation, she pointed to the peeling paint on her old house. Kadin, she said, has been diagnosed with lead poisoning.

He has lots of company: Within 15 blocks of his house, at least 120 small children have been poisoned since 2010, making the neighborhood among the most toxic in Missouri, Reuters found as part of an analysis of childhood lead testing results across the country. In St. Joseph, even a local pediatrician’s children were poisoned.
St. Joseph, by the way, is patron saint to "craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general." These are precisely the sort of people who could be put to work fixing the environmental and infrastructure problems in towns like St. Joseph, MO and LA if only the money and political will could be found to begin those projects.

Donald Trump has made some noise both during the campaign and transition period about a new and aggressive infrastructure program.  That sounds positive at first. But will what Trump actually has in mind end up benefiting places like St. Joseph?  Probably not.
Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” (get to know this document) stresses that his American Energy and Infrastructure Act “leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.”

What do “public-private partnerships” and “tax incentives” mean here? This report from Peter Navarro, set to be one of Trump’s leading economists, lays out the blueprint. The government would sell $1 trillion in revenue-producing bonds, needing only to supply an equity cushion to ensure everyone gets paid. Navarro estimates around $140 billion in government funding when all is said and done, which you could easily get through repatriation.

Investors would get a tax credit to entice them to buy bonds, and Navarro claims that the tax revenue from new jobs created by the projects makes up for that cost. He also wants to contract out these projects, building in a 10 percent profit margin for the private contractor. Navarro claims that construction costs are higher when built by the government, and the private sector is more efficient.

Does this sound familiar? It’s the common justification for privatization, and it’s been a disaster virtually everywhere it’s been tried. First of all, this specifically ties infrastructure—designed for the common good—to a grab for profits. Private operators will only undertake projects if they promise a revenue stream. You may end up with another bridge in New York City or another road in Los Angeles, which can be monetized. But someplace that actually needs infrastructure investment is more dicey without user fees.

So the only way to entice private-sector actors into rebuilding Flint, Michigan’s water system, for example, is to give them a cut of the profits in perpetuity. That’s what Chicago did when it sold off 36,000 parking meters to a Wall Street-led investor group. Users now pay exorbitant fees to park in Chicago, and city government is helpless to alter the rates.

You also end up with contractors skimping on costs to maximize profits. A shiny new toll road between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, done through a public-private partnership is falling apart after only a couple years, and improper drainage is leading residents of Lockhart, a city along the route, to complain of flooding. The contractor refuses to make the fixes; instead the company is walking away with outsized profits.

Under this scheme, private investors and contractors hold power over project selection. Trump—a.k.a. the government—would just be the name on a privately owned bridge or seaport or electrical grid. The notion of an inherent public benefit to infrastructure improvements, the entire point of the enterprise, is totally eliminated.
Sorry about the long quote there. But it's necessary to get the sense of what's about to happen. American voters in poor and rural areas of the South and Midwest just installed Donald Trump as President precisely because they've already suffered too long the consequences of this neoliberal shell game. And now they are about to get hit with it again in spades.

It's also worth noting that Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is best known for suing that agency to prevent enforcement of laws meant to rein in polluters.

 So it's worth remembering as well that St. Joseph is also the patron saint of the dying if you're looking for someone to pray to.


Barry Kern's Bouncy House

What an unusual location for such a thing.  Also, is this even a thing people will want badly enough to seek it out in that location? 
A new indoor amusement center centered on trampolines planned by Barry Kern for a warehouse on Earhart Boulevard near the Superdome will be able to move forward after the City Council cleared the way for it last week.

Kern is planning “an indoor trampoline facility” inside a 51,000-square-foot warehouse at 3035 Earhart Boulevard, just off South Claiborne Avenue, according to the application he filed with the city.

“This facility would be the first of its kind in the city of New Orleans, and would represent a great addition to the family friendly entertainment options the city has to offer,” Kern wrote. “This request would not greatly alter the fabric of the zoning district, but, if granted, it would expand the options for families looking for a safe, supervised place for their children to play.”
Should note, also, that Kern was part of a group who recently bought the old Times-Picayune building which isn't too far from there. The group didn't have any plans for that building at the time but here is what they said
Jaeger's group, 3800 Howard Investors LLC, closed on the $3.5 million deal Sept. 2, according to Orleans Parish Civil District Court records, which list the site at 8.9 acres.

Peter Aamodt, senior development manager of Jaeger's firm, MCC Real Estate, said Tuesday that the group has "no immediate plans" for the property.

"It was a good investment at the right time and the right place," he said.

Jaeger's group also includes float builder Barry Kern, president of Mardi Gras World, developer Arnold Kirschman, whose family operated furniture stores in the metro area for nearly a century, and Michael White, a businessman.

"They have no specific plans or projected uses," Aamodt said. "They just want to participate in the growing New Orleans economy, and feel like the neighborhoods surrounding that location continue to get better."
See, they were just gobbling up properties to sit on while they wait for the neighborhood to... um... bounce back. 

Someone check on Errol Laborde for me

I missed this week's Informed Sources. Did he have anything to say about this?
The Municipal Auditorium inside Armstrong Park has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina flooded it in 2005.

City leaders said there isn't enough money in the bank to fix it, and they've reached an impasse with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over funding for repairs.
The auditorium used to host large events and Mardi Gras balls, but now it is boarded up, littered with trash and smells of urine. Squatters break into the building at night, leaving workers to repair the entrances in the morning.

Edward McMillan, who is staying at the Covenant House across the street from Armstrong Park, said one of the first things homeless advocates told him is to stay away from the auditorium.

“I heard there's a lot of stuff going on,” McMillan said. “There's a bad situation… They (are) having sex in here. You know, people sleeping in here when they get put out from their places or they (are) homeless. They don't (have) nowhere to go.”
Errol used to be so worried about what was going to happen to the former site of his beloved Rex ball.  I hope he was sitting down when he read this report.  Not only does it say the former debutante show hall is hosting a different sort of pageant these days, but it also tells us there's not yet enough money to shoo off the vagrants. 
In a statement to WDSU, Erin Burns, press secretary for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city of New Orleans, said the city has worked hard over the last 11 years to get enough money to fix the auditorium.

Burns said FEMA offered $7 million in 2010, which has since been increased to $41.7 million, but she said that’s not enough to cover the cost of renovations, which the city estimates at more than $80 million.

“At this time, we have reached an impasse in our negotiations,” Burns wrote. “To resolve this dispute, the city and FEMA will enter into an arbitration process so we may secure the necessary public assistance funding to cover all eligible repairs to damage caused by Katrina.”
 That's odd about the arbitration, though.  They said the same thing back in August.
Eleven years after the Municipal Auditorium in Louis Armstrong Park was flooded during Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans officials say a check from FEMA to pay for repairs could be coming soon.

After years of fighting over the cost of needed repairs, the city and FEMA entered arbitration this month to settle an impasse in the negotiations, said Hayne Rainey, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

That process is expected to wrap up in the next 90 days and could pave the way for a private developer to take over management of the site.
Had they decided to put off the arbitration earlier? Because it's been more than 90 days.  Maybe there's just been a delay and there isn't anything new they can announce about the plan.   Weird, though.

In any case it hardly matters if all we're doing is fighting to throw public money into a building that we're just going to purpose toward some privatized profit taking activity like the St. Roch Market. If that's as far as our imagination can take us now, we might as well let the vagrants keep it.

Decibel meters and metal detectors

Our fifty ka-billion annual visitors, or whatever NOTMC's target number is now, are going to love the rigidly enforced charms of the French Quarter.
Tourists like to enjoy New Orleans’ talent up close, but some business owners say the noise and crowds that street performers bring is hurting business.

"We've seen a loss of business because when these people are here they block the doorways,” said Terry Weidert, owner of Currents Jewelry. “They pay no attention the merchants."

Weidert’s store has been in the French Quarter for more than 25 years and he said the amount of performers in front of his store is more than ever.

"They're far above the decibel level, they block the sidewalks,” Weidert said. “They don't respect the merchants."
Last year the same group tried to shut down the Royal Street pedestrian mall altogether.  This year they're back at it.  Between this and Sidney Torres's Bourbon Street cover charge, the folks are gonna love the happy atmosphere our city is famous for.  

World's greatest democracy

Watch it work.
We know the Electoral College is deeply undemocratic. Presidential electors are allocated by adding the two senators to the number of representatives each state gets. Thus the smallest states have proportionally more power in electing the president than the large ones. In 2016 Donald Trump won 66 electoral votes from 14 small states, with a total population of about 26,300,000. Hillary Clinton won 55 electoral votes from California, with a population of 37,254,000. The math is clear. Twenty-six million people substantially outvoted thirty-seven million people. Something is clearly wrong.

How did we get such an insane, undemocratic system for choosing our president? The answer, oddly enough is because of slavery. The system was explicitly designed to protect slavery.
We don't have slavery anymore... unless you count the prison labor.. or the H-2  visas... or the growing "gig economy" phenomenon... or.. .well, okay we don't nominally have slavery anymore. But we do retain certain relics of it which happen to distort our World's Greatest Democracy from time to time.  Still working out the kinks on that.  

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday morning rumor

Right on time.
A year after the Colts considered acquiring Saints coach Sean Payton, and a year after Payton signed a lucrative extension in New Orleans, a change of scenery is still possible.

League sources said the Saints -- adrift in another lost season and with veteran quarterback Drew Brees spiraling in recent weeks -- would consider moving the coach should there be suitors, and it would not likely require hefty trade compensation.
This is the time of year when "league sources" always seem to have something interesting to say about either Drew Brees or Sean Payton every Sunday morning. It's been like this for several years now so who knows how much stock to put into it.

In any case, it was probably inevitable that the the 2016 millennialist doomsaying mood would catch on with Saints fans.  The fin de siecle talk is definitely getting louder around here. Larry Holder wrote about it this week. He doesn't necessarily think this is the end, though.
The major aspect holding me back for anticipating a change with Payton is the contract. But history has also shown numerous times that coaches who've won at least one Super Bowl for their respective teams receive a longer coaching leash than others.

Look at Payton's history. The Saints coach followed up his Super Bowl-winning campaign with three consecutive seasons of at least 11 regular season wins. I can tell you within the building on Airline Drive that no one is holding the team's 7-9 record in 2012 as part of Payton's resume since the NFL banished him as part of the bounty scandal.

So Payton has compiled three winning seasons, followed by three seasons of teams reaching the .500 mark at best in any of those years. That won't change in 2016 either.

I looked back at four coaches who won Super Bowls and ended up being fired: Brian Billick, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden and Tom Coughlin. All of them had long leashes.
How long should Payton's leash be?  I'd say it's probably long enough to hold him one more year. At least, it makes sense if we're being calm and logical about things. I know, I know, that very rarely is actually the case.  But look. Brees's contract expires after next season. He's 38 years old and his last few games have been not so hot leading to the inevitable whispers.  But his 2016 overall has actually been very very good. Unless his arm falls off at some point during the next few weeks, there's no reason to believe, based on this season's performance, that he can't still get it done.  And if we're going to bet on Brees having one more season in him, there's no good reason to have him go through that season starting over with a new head coach.

That seems obvious enough in and of itself. Consider also that the team actually hasn't been all that bad this year. This has been an entertaining season of Saints football.  A lot of ridiculous things have happened during these games. Sometimes they've been positive ridiculous, but more often they've been negative ridiculous. Oh well. That's how it goes some years. Most pro football rosters are so evenly talented that, aside from the very best and very worst few teams, a matchup between any two is basically decided by chance. The 2016 Saints are well within the group of perfectly cromulent teams who can randomly win or lose each week. Fans who actually remember that this is a thing they follow for fun shouldn't have any reason to complain about that.

More to the point, though, anyone from the set of teams who aren't total trainwrecks can make the jump back into playoff level competition very quickly. And there's no reason to believe the 2017 Saints couldn't do that. They will go into the offseason in better cap shape than they have been in a while and, possibly, with a relatively high (Fournette range?) draft pick. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. And I'd be happy to talk with y'all about dumping Payton then.  But there's no harm in letting it ride one more year first.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The news has always been fake

One especially annoying aspect of the current freakout over "fake news" is the near total lack of historical perspective whatsoever.
They also don’t seem to know how we entered this post-fact world or when the factual age, which must have preceded it, ended. Was it in the 2000s, when the whole world debated imaginary weapons of mass destruction before being conned into war? Or was it in the 1990s, when the Lewinsky scandal dominated newspapers, and the United States panicked over superpredators and crack babies? Perhaps it was really Reagan’s 1980s, with its secret, Central American wars, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the denial of the AIDS epidemic. Or maybe we need to go back even further: to Nixon’s not-a-crook 1970s, to George Wallace’s law-and-order 1960s, or to McCarthy’s redbaiting 1950s.

I guess lack of perspective would be the definition of a freakout, wouldn't it? It would be nice, though,  if the leading lights of our discourse would exhibit the slightest bit of institutional memory from time to time. Without that,  we're basically operating in a state of permanent freakout.  Although,  if you've been around long enough you'll understand that isn't new either.

Anyway, it seems like we've been declaring The End Of Civil Agreement On The Bounds Of Reality for decades now. And rarely does anyone comment on the dejavu.

The thing is, in politics, facts are always in dispute.  Or at least they are open to interpretation and debate.  The process of hammering that out can be ugly. And it often comes out quite wrong.

Those of us who do remember the bad old days can tell you the news has always been fake. But for most of our lives our only access to the debate over it was limited to yelling back at the TV. Anyone telling you we need to... um... streamline the process of finding out facts by limiting discussion to a credentialed elite either doesn't remember most of history or is lying to you.

There's nobody looking out for Louisiana

Your U.S. Senators, Louisiana.

Stephanie Grace is, quite understandably, wondering what it is they might do for you in the coming Age of Trump.
These are heady days for Republicans who found themselves, against most predictions, in charge of both the administration and Congress — and, since the GOP Senate's gambit to ignore Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, positioned to establish a narrow Supreme Court majority.

Yet to the extent a government dominated by one party still has checks and balances, these and other GOP members are pretty much it. The question here is whether they have any interest in filling that role.

If they're looking out for Louisiana's interests, there are some obvious areas to watch.
Policies that either don't address — or worse, accelerate — sea level rise will have more impact here than almost anywhere else.

The GOP threat to quickly overturn the Affordable Care Act, without having settled on a replacement, would impact more than 350,000 working poor Louisianans who've taken advantage of the law's Medicaid expansion, as well as and financial prospects of the state's public-private hospital partnerships. Also affected would be the many more who get their insurance through the law's exchanges, often with government subsidy, as well as young adults who have been able to get insurance through their parents' plans and anyone who has a pre-existing condition.
Will Republicans do anything to stop the promised, though disastrous for many Louisianans, ACA repeal?  Probably not.  Remember, an Obamacare repeal is first and foremost, a big tax break for the wealthy paid for through the pain and suffering of... well... everybody else. 
As the TPC explains, the multiple moving parts of an Obamacare repeal affect taxpayers in different ways and the variation is wide even within each income group. The ACA tax credits play a major role in determining the losers, but even if they are excluded from consideration, those on the bottom and the middle benefit from the tax cuts far less than those on the top.

For instance, a vast majority (94 percent) of middle-income households (making between $52,000 and $89,000) do see a small tax cut that averages around $110, but three percent of middle-income earners would see a massive tax hike, averaging $6,200, because of the elimination of the tax credits for insurance plans purchased through the individual exchanges.

High-earners see a major cut not just because they don't stand to lose the subsidies. Two of the taxes that would be eliminated with Obamacare's repeal are directed at individuals making $200,00 or more. All in all, those in the top 1 percent see a tax cut of $33,000. Those in the top .1 percent will see a cut of $197,000.
John Kennedy offered a lot of folksy rhetoric about "handouts" and "bailouts" during the campaign. In the phrasing of Kennedy's ads, repealing Obamacare is a bailout AND handout for people "at the top" while "the rest of us get stuck with the bill."  Pretty sure he won't care about that, though. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Free the Krewe Of Chad!

SELA vs Chad

The Corps has good news!
Napoleon Avenue parade-goers can get their “Neutral Ground Side” T-shirts out of the mothballs for Mardi Gras 2017, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that all construction on the avenue will be complete before the first parades roll in 2017.

“The project is scheduled to be complete early next year and the neutral ground will be available for parade goers to stand on for Mardi Gras 2017!” according to a celebratory post on the Facebook page for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control project.
Yay, we did it. On time for Mardi Gras. You're welcome, everybody. 

Except we won't be all the way all the way finished. 
More specifically, all major construction on Napoleon Avenue will be finished by the time the first Uptown parade, the Krewe of Oshun, rolls at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, according to information released by U.S. Army Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett’s office. The sod will be placed on entire length of the neutral ground, no areas of it will be fenced off, and no holes will remain open in the ground because construction on the underground box culvert is already finished.

If any work on Napoleon Avenue is still unfinished by that point, it will only be minor items like individual curb or sidewalk repairs, Boyett’s office said. Landscaping of the entire Napoleon Avenue neutral ground is then scheduled for the fall planting season in 2017, officials have said.
That's fine, though. It's actually an improvement on the last update, in a way.  In October, they said the sodding wouldn't be finished until after Mardi Gras. Now they're saying it will be. On the other hand, we only learned that much because we noticed they had moved the project completion date from November 2016 to July 2017. The response at that point, promised construction would finish up in December.

Well, it's December now and the new update via this "celebratory post on Facebook" is that they are actually planning to finish "in time for Mardi Gras."  That's good news. But it's still pretty much an announcement that they've missed their target again.  Hope they get this new deadline right.  

What could possibly go wrong

The parallel internet, which is a multi-billion dollar corporation with near monopoly status in the "social media" market, is going to tell you what's real and what's fake. 
  • Facebook will ask users to report fake news by clicking on a button at the top right of a story they think is dubious. It will also use its software to look for signs of fake news stories that are getting traction.

  • If Facebook thinks its users and/or its software have found a fake news story, it will ask a consortium of journalists to fact-check the story.

  • If the journalists think the story is bogus, Facebook will flag the story as “disputed by third-party fact-checkers.”

  • That “disputed” banner will be attached to the story within Facebook’s News Feed, and Facebook will tweak its algorithms to make sure “disputed” stories don’t get as much traction in the feed*.

  • And users who do want to share a “disputed” story will get a prompt asking them if they’re really sure they want to share the story.

  • Facebook also says it will try to make it harder for publishers to profit by publishing fake news, though it is vague about what that will mean.
 Can't imagine what could go wrong there. Can you?

Another good reason to take a look at Ethan Brown's book

The Boustany stuff is what got everyone's attention but it's really a minor element in the book. More than anything else, what is described in Murder In The Bayou is a dangerously corrupt law enforcement system in Louisiana, particularly with regard to rural sheriff's departments working in drug interdiction
Teams of FBI agents descended Thursday on the Hammond Police Department and Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office.

"We are conducting multiple court-authorized actions," said Craig Betbeze, a spokesman for the FBI's New Orleans field division. "The investigations are ongoing."

The raid, according to three law enforcement officials, is related to a broader federal investigation of a drug task force that has come under scrutiny for allegedly selling confiscated narcotics and tampering with witnesses.

The task force included several members of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office, and it was led by Chad Scott, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency who has been suspended from duty as a result of the probe.

Two former members of the task force have been charged with stealing cash and drugs during raids.

The sheriff in Tangipahoa is Governor Edwards's brother.

Wearing down

The Industrial Development Board might be finally ready to sell Six Flags.  The offer matches the recently appraised value. But the buyer is one they've previously rejected. The board has conducted a few rounds of bids where they've considered and rejected offers from the same group of repeat bidders.  

IDB has made no secret that it's been eager to unload the property.  The city has stuck them with responsibility for security and upkeep very much against their own wishes and they'd like to be free of that. So with such a motivated seller, the bids up to this point must have been especially shaky.  This sounds like the board might be starting to wear down.
In 2014, Pope and her team in 2014 pitched a multi-phase plan for an amusement park, a "Baritone Beach" water park, movie production facilities and retail. But the Industrial Development Board agreed that the project lacked enough financing to move forward with a lease deal.

"Without equity, we are not going to sign off on a deal here just hoping for something to come," Philipson said this week.

On Wednesday, Pope said the plans are essentially the same, although the first phase of construction wouldn't be the amusement park -- it would instead be the beginning of a $120 million mixed-use development with retail, dining and other tenants. The development will unfold over several years as tenants sign on, she said.
The plan is the same but the development would roll out more slowly in phases, if I'm reading this correctly.  Anyway, the city might be trying to squash the sale.
The public board that manages the abandoned Six Flags amusement park site in New Orleans East will continue to review redevelopment offers for the site, despite urging from Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office that it stop accepting proposals.

The board's decision Tuesday came hours after it received an offer to buy the 220-acre site for $3.26 million, the amount an independent appraiser recently said the property is worth.

An aide to Landrieu said the Industrial Development Board should have scrapped its request for proposals to give itself time to regroup.
Seems like there's been a lot of regrouping over this already. 

How do you embolden secessionists?

You beat them in an election, of course. That's just politics 101.
Just days after her weekend runoff win over Bodi White, who had been a key player in the failed breakaway St. George movement before backing away from it during the campaign, proponents of carving out a new city were back on the case. Newspaper editor and veteran politician Woody Jenkins, one of the movement's chief proponents, went so far as to say he's 99 percent sure of success next time.

Hollywood South is back

Except now it's just John Kennedy and his people rebooting a bunch of stupid 80s teen movies.
James Preston Kennedy, the 20-year-old son of the senator-elect, who lives with his parents in Madisonville, is being sued by neighbors Steven and Heidi Fisher, who say that instead of feeding their dogs while they were on vacation, as he had been asked to do, James Kennedy instead threw a blowout that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.

When the Fishers returned to their home, they found it “ransacked and damaged, and personal items were missing, stolen and/or broken,” the suit says.

The couple reviewed their security camera footage and discovered that a party had been held in the house. Revelers could be seen drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, the petition says. It does not mention whether weedkiller was also imbibed.

Further investigation showed that the master bedroom and the other bedrooms in the house had been the site of “sexual encounters by those invited by the Defendant,” according to the suit. The petition makes no mention of whether any of the lovers carried a handgun, just in case.
Anyway, private matter, not something to make a big deal out of, I guess.  Unless the movie version ends up getting state or local tax credits so keep an eye out for that. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Please let's not normalize "New Marigny"

Realtors do not get to play Columbus with your neighborhoods. Especially when they're trying to "re-imagine" them in such a way that nobody actually lives in them anymore. 
A developer's vision for what he termed a "gateway to the New Marigny" was dealt a setback Tuesday, when city planners approved his proposal for a hotel on St. Bernard Avenue but called for limitations on its height and total floor area that the developer said would undercut the project's economics.

The project needs a conditional-use permit, which requires City Council approval, because it involves more than 10,000 square feet.
As real estate marketing gimmicks go, "New Marigny" is among the more blatant. It not only implies, wealthy transients and transplants are discovering neighborhoods and remaking them in their own image, it practically yells it at you.  The least we can do when we write about this propaganda is to actually recognize it as such.  Instead our "view from nowhere" style buys right into it. 
Calvin Lain is president of Devalepay Inc., which owns the triangular-shaped property at 1201-1219 St. Bernard Ave., in the area sometimes known as New Marigny. The site now includes a car wash, billboard and warehouse, which would be torn down.
"Sometimes known as."  Um.. who calls it that sometimes? 

Governor Landry's crusade against teh gays

Did anyone ask John Kennedy if this litigation was a good use of the state's time and money? Seems like we could buy a lot of art for the cost of Landry's pursuit of making people miserable. 
A Baton Rouge judge has thrown out Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in state government, declaring it unlawful.

"The effect of [the executive order's] adoption and implementation, creates new and/or expands upon existing Louisiana law as opposed to directing the faithful execution of the existing law of this state," wrote Judge Todd Hernandez in his ruling Wednesday (Dec. 14).

The ruling also has larger implications for the balance of power between the governor and attorney general moving forward in Louisiana. The judge's decision is expected to be appealed to a higher court almost immediately.

Both Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry had sued each other this fall over the governor's protections for LGBT state workers and contractors. The attorney general had asked the court to throw out all the LGBT protections, though he then narrowed his request to target mostly the transgender protections last week.
Maybe we can charge it all back to Landry's campaign fund when he runs for Governor. 

"World's Greatest Healthcare"

In case you are wondering, no, that isn't a thing where you buy your health plan from your neighbor's kid along with a box of chocolate bars. It's just a thing where they scrap the exchanges in favor of tax credits.  At present, though, Republicans are planning to repeal as much of the ACA as they can as soon as possible with no clear idea of how to "replace" it.
GOP leaders, who have repeatedly promised their core voters that they would repeal Obamacare, oppose any delay in a vote, despite the risk that Republicans may be held responsible for any ensuing turmoil.

They are pushing to pass a bill early next year that would repeal many key provisions of the law. That would include the money that has allowed states to expand their Medicaid safety nets and the billions of dollars in federal funds that have provided subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans to help with the cost of insurance premiums. More than 20 million Americans who previously lacked insurance have gained coverage under the law.

“We have to bring relief to Obamacare as quickly as possible so that it stops doing damage, not just to the healthcare system but to the families of America who need affordable health insurance,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters at the Capitol last week.

To minimize disruptions, senior Republicans want to delay when the cuts would take effect. The idea is to buy time to allow the party to develop an alternative — something that GOP lawmakers have been unable to agree on in the six years since the law passed.
In the very likely worst case scenario that the Republicans just do whatever without caring about the consequences, a half million Louisianans could lose access to medical care
new report estimates as many as 558,000 people in Louisiana would lose health insurance if Republicans in Congress force a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and Louisiana would lose $1.9 billion in federal Medicaid funding.

In many ways, the report offers a glimpse from the edge of an abyss: It assumes that a Republican-led Congress, with support from President-elect Donald Trump, would repeal the Affordable Care Act and fail to replace it with any meaningful health care policy.

And while it's not clear that will happen, the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offers a dark reminder of what health care providers and patients stand to lose under an overhaul of key policy changes.

The numbers in the report are all the more dramatic because of Louisiana's longtime reliance on federal funding to finance health care programs for the working poor and indigent. But it also combines the low-income population insured under Medicaid with moderate-income families who rely on marketplace plans.
One of the many many reasons I did not want Trump to win was, regardless of who would be the next President, health care policy was due for a reckoning.  This crappy system of insurance-based reform with no public option we call "Obamacare" was going to fall apart. Premiums were going up and insurers were dropping out of the exchanges before the election anyway.

With Hillary in the White House, the argument we'd have as a result would have involved a lot of us saying, "Hey guess what. It's time for single payer." And sure, Hillary "Never Ever Ever" Clinton and the shittier Democrats would have fought us on that. And the Republicans would be even bigger dicks about it. And whatever "fix" they eventually hammered out wouldn't be everything we wanted. BUT we would have the opportunity to more clearly articulate a better idea. We would have something more like single payer at least on the table and people would be taking it more seriously.

Now we don't get to have that fight at all.  Instead, everybody is screwed for the foreseeable future.