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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Well that's quite good timing

Among the estimated $3.8 million worth of annual expenses supporting Mitch Landrieu's recently announced "security plan" is an unspecified amount for the following.
Action 5: Increased Graffiti Removal

Increase the amount of resources towards graffiti removal to include 4 persons for 8 hours a week to remove graffiti on all public signage,utility boxes and litter cans.
So there is "graffiti removal" money up for grabs.  Guess who suddenly pops back up in the news
Sometimes it's as easy as walking up to the base of an overpass. Other times, it might require a cherry picker to reach higher points. But no matter what it takes, Operation Clean Sweep is working to rid the Big Easy of graffiti.

“We've taken out graffiti over the last 15 years; saved the Police Department over 9,000 phone calls by creating the graffiti hotline and taking out over 25,000 graffiti tags,” said Fred Radtke, founder and president of Operation Clean Sweep.

Radtke said he started this nonprofit after seeing a void in the city.
To be clear, Radtke isn't "in the news" in the sense that a new thing happened that involves him necessitating a report being filed. WDSU just interviewed him because... well it isn't clear.  He probably doesn't mind the attention, though. Especially when the city might throw some money at him.

Half-troll

Louisiana Democrats tried to do a thing today where they trolled Jeff Landry for selectively suing the Governor but not the President over executive orders.
In a particularly familiar topic to the frequently-sparring Louisiana leaders, Trump said Tuesday that he plans to keep intact an executive order signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, that bars discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in federal government.

Democrat Edwards and Republican Landry have been locked in dispute over how far the governor's executive order authority goes in a case related to the same issue — protections for LGBT people.
Ok, good one guys. You got him... sort of. 

My idea this afternoon, though, was for all of us.. not just the Democratic Party spokespersons.. to begin lobbying Landry to join the state Attorneys General filing suit against Trump's travel ban.  We know Landry supports the ban, of course. But the strategy now is to keep up the noise. Get in street, get on the phone, bug your representatives and tell them how you think they should behave even when they don't.

Perpetual and total obstruction and defiance is the only way to beat back the fascists.  No more grand bargains and reach-across-the-aisle compromise crap. That stuff died with the dinosaurs who blew the 2016 election.  Now would somebody please inform Governor Edwards of this?
Meanwhile, Edwards said he thinks adjustments are needed in the order.

“Unfortunately, the President’s travel ban executive order was not properly vetted within the administration to ensure its wording, intent and implementation would inspire confidence, rather than sow discord, anxiety and confusion," Edwards said in a statement. "However, I am encouraged that the administration has recently clarified its intent and adjusted the implementation to address some of these concerns.”
good grief

Just like national signing day

Trump is going to announce his SCOTUS nominee exactly the way you would expect him to.
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a federal appeals court from the Denver-based 10th Circuit, and Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit, sitting in Pittsburgh, were both traveling to the capital ahead of an evening ceremony at the White House to unveil Mr. Trump’s choice, according to a person familiar with the plans. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Mr. Trump, who declared on Monday that he had settled on a nominee, was “excited” for the announcement, a dramatic reveal for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court by a president who prizes showmanship above tradition.
They'll all sit at a table and talk about whether or not women are people for half an hour. Then, at the end, one judge puts on the MAGA hat and the other one is "fired."  Ideally this is a joke but no this is how we do things now.

Keep bugging your representatives

Is our Democrats learning?  Maybe a little bit.
Amid mounting opposition from Democrats and labor groups, the confirmation hearing for labor secretary nominee and fast-food chief executive Andrew Puzder has been delayed a fourth time.
If you have a Democratic Senator, it serves well to keep after them. They tend not to stay this stiff-backed without continual encouragement.

In Louisiana, we have dopes like John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy carrying our flag for us.  But it's every bit as worth it to talk at them too.  Cassidy is holding a Facebook townall this afternoon at 4:45. That means there's still time to get in a comment or question if you use the Parallel Internet. Here's what I sent him.

President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Labor is multi-millionaire fast food magnate Andrew Puzder. Puzder is on record standing opposed to federal minimum wage laws and overtime standards. Furthermore, 60 percent of his restaurants (Carl's Jr, Hardee's) have been named in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Senator, is this the sort of person we should accept in an office charged with enforcing federal laws intended to protect workers from abuse? Also, as a medical professional, how many Hardee's Budweiser Beer Cheese Bacon Thickburgers would you recomend your consituents include in their diet per week?

Alert the voter fraud inquisitors

The most pressing question not answered by this look into Drew Brees's political aspirations rises from the final note about his registration status. 
Like Abraham, Brees is a registered Republican, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's voter database,

But who says Candidate Brees would necessarily run in Louisiana? He does, after all, own a house in Del Mar, California, just north of San Diego.
Is Drew registered to vote in California too? If so, it would be a status he shares with several among Trump's inner circle including his own "Voter fraud expert." Somebody check on this.

Practically a tourist attraction

Advocate HQ

John Georges's new The New Orleans Advocate headquarters is open for business.  You might think that business is running a newspaper but the way this reads, it sounds more like they're managing an event space that just happens to have a newspaper in the building.
The Advocate’s renovation stripped the building to its beams, then painstakingly restored the original look. In addition to the Advocate offices, the 20,000-square foot building has a large assembly and event space, as well as a second-floor suite with additional entertainment space and a recessed balcony for Mardi Gras parade-watching. The lobby, once the car dealer showroom, is connected to the second floor by a new feature, a 20-foot high spiral staircase that overlooks the lobby and the newsroom.

A coffee shop is also planned, which will connect with the building's lobby, with the aim of creating a community gathering place. The Advocate plans to have a series of events around Mardi Gras, using custom-built reviewing stands.
If you are curious about rates and availability for your upcoming event, the article doesn't say anything about booking.  So it's a little late into this year's social season to start hosting the deb parties and Carnival balls and stuff.  Eventually, the plan is for Nell Nolan not to have to leave the office. 

Speaking of disaster capitalism

The state is considering selling off highway construction to for profit toll collectors. 
Gov. John Bel Edwards is hoping the private sector will provide upfront capital for transportation construction in exchange for repayment -- often through toll revenue -- over time.

"This is a first step in positioning the state to leverage private sector resources in delivering major enhancements to the I-10 capital corridor," Edwards said Monday (Jan. 30). "We aren't likely to have the revenue needed to make a (public-private partnership) work for the entire corridor today, but we will be ready to advance such a partnership if the Legislature acts in a meaningful way to fund transportation during the upcoming regular session."

In other words, legislators must first embrace some of the administration's potential revenue-raising ideas, such as hiking the gasoline tax
John Bel is trying to make an Obama style "grand bargain" in the age of government by gangsterism. It's a shame that the gangsters are going to take all of our money in the process. But if they bury the chump governor who sold us out to them under one of their toll bridges, maybe we can take some satisfaction from that.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Disaster Capitalism

This is an article published in the Intercept last week by Naomi Klein.
Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” a history of the ways in which crises have been systematically exploited over the last half century to further a radical pro-corporate agenda. The book begins and ends with the response to Hurricane Katrina, because it stands as such a harrowing blueprint for disaster capitalism.

That’s relevant because of the central, if little-recalled role played by the man who is now the U.S. vice president, Mike Pence. At the time Katrina hit New Orleans, Pence was chairman of the powerful and highly ideological Republican Study Committee. On September 13, 2005 — just 14 days after the levees were breached and with parts of New Orleans still underwater — the RSC convened a fateful meeting at the offices of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Under Pence’s leadership, the group came up with a list of “Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices” — 32 policies in all, each one straight out of the disaster capitalism playbook.
We are such resilient innovators in New Orleans; always on the cutting edge. Or being cut by it as the case more often has been.   And yet, to hear our local leaders tell it, the past ten years here have been an unmitigated success story.  And sure, the successes they revel in, the dislocation of residents, the privatization of schools, the rampant gentrification have all been big wins for our leaders and their wealthy patrons.  In any case, the city has clearly played a central role in fostering our nation's emerging fascist governing philosophy. 

Anyway here is a statement from MACCNO on the mayor's $40 million French Quarter "security" scheme.
We fail to see what much of this plan has to do with crime reduction at all—rather it looks to be a form of ‘disaster capitalism’, using the fear of crime to force through policies that will be widely unpopular.  We haven’t forgotten, just one year ago, when several businesses used the ‘fear of terrorist attacks’ to justify an attempt to end the 45 year old Royal St. Pedestrian Mall, which would have been devastating to the income of many buskers—some of whom are prominently featured in tourism campaigns.  Despite being included in a ‘safety plan’, we know that limiting amplification by street performers, for instance, will have exactly zero impact on violent crime. 

Steve Bannon hasn't complained yet

Remarkably, no one has yet suggested that the fake radio show should shut up.  Something must be wrong.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

If you can't go, you can call

City Hall protest looks good from my vantage point. Unfortunately that's checking the internet every now and again because Menckles has designated today laundry day at home.  But here's what it looks like.




Anyway, if you can't pull away from Sunday chores, you can get on the phone for a few minutes, I'm sure.

Bug the hell out of John Kennedy's staff.
Phone: (202) 224-4623
Write: https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/content/contact-senator

Bug the hell out of Bill Cassidy's staff.
DC office number: (202) 224-5824
Or call a local office near you

Bug the hell out of Scaslise's people.
DC office: (202) 225-3015
Metairie: (504) 837-1259

Cedric Richmond is probably on your side but you can always encourage him. 
DC office: (202) 225-6636
Orleans office: (504) 288-3777 

Protest every thing every day

This is the only backstop we have for at least two years probably more. Already the Trump people are ignoring court orders (or complying in the most minimal fashion).  They're only going to get bolder as they get settled into the office.  It takes a lot of time, energy and "stah-mi-nah" but people are going to have to get used to going in the street to do whatever good they can in the meantime.  It's not easy.  On the parallel internet today I see local groups trying to meet up at City Hall (1:45) and at the airport (2pm). That's not very well coordinated, obviously, but it's what happens sometimes. Not everybody can go to every one of these but go when and if you can. 

Worst practices

This is how the 3 am closures happened. Mitch's staff was tasked to put together a "security plan" so that the mayor could respond to political pressure from the Attorney General and others. (We wrote about tbe politics of all this the other day) So staff went around and collected a list of "quality of life" complaints made over the years by various groups with different agendas. Every discarded prudish, paranoid, and even racist suggestion offered previously by business owners, neighborhood groups, religious activists, and anti-crime petitioners in their occasional fits of pique found its way in.

Then, staff went out and did the obligatory "best practices" survey that always goes into these reports because the goal of any professionally run city is just to do what other cities do. Even when this process turns up policies that make no sense here, they're inevitably shoehorned in anyway. This is why the bars are "closing" but not closing at 3am now. 
Landrieu press secretary Erin Burns said in a statement that requiring bars to close their doors after 3 a.m. "is one piece of our larger, $40 million public safety improvement strategy that is designed to address the issue as a whole" and that was arrived at "after consulting with several security experts and local stakeholders as well as analyzing the practices of other cities."

Burns said most of the other cities studied "completely close (bars) at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and many of the security experts we consulted suggested that we do the same," but she added that New Orleans "is a 24-hour city, and we do not feel that closing bars completely would be appropriate for the authenticity of our unique culture."
Other cities close. But we don't close. But their experts said we should close. We don't want to close but we're gonna kind of close anyway because... experts and best practices... and hey we typed up this whole report, see?

The result is kind of a "worst of" compilation of rejected proposals from local cranks mashed together with bastardized versions of imported policies all of which somehow forms The Way We Move Forward with our $40 million.  What does any of it have to do with reducing violent crime? That's even less clear.
The Advocate analyzed NOPD records on the more than 404,000 incidents that garnered a police response in 2016, determining when they occurred and how close they were to the roughly 1,500 businesses with a license to sell alcohol.

Those businesses include both bars and establishments like grocery stores and restaurants that likely would be closed by 3 a.m. but that also would be covered by the changes the Landrieu administration is proposing.

The analysis shows that less than 1 percent of all crimes in the city occur within 150 feet of a bar between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. And of those, fewer than a fifth were on Bourbon Street, the area that would likely be most affected by the proposed changes.
Mostly the idea here is that we be seen doing something regardless of what that thing is. This way the next city's politically pressured staff will have ideas to crib for their knee-jerk reaction reports too. Gotta keep the circle of bullshit going.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Protest every day

Direct action is all that's left right now. It won't always win. But every little thing people can to to gum up the works helps. Today is a win. Tomorrow may not be.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge blocked part of President Trump’s executive order on immigration on Saturday evening, ordering that refugees and others trapped at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.
Get ready to protest every thing every day. Or whatever it is you can do, as long as people show up, there's a chance to stop some of this.

That's going to change a bit when we move from the Trump-issues-a-legally-and-logistically-questionable-edict-a-day phase and into the Congress-passes-terrible-laws phase. But, for now, it's possible to beat some of the bullshit back. But it will still take sustained deliberate effort.

Extreme vetting

Senate Democrats aren't as completely helpless as, I suspect, many of them would like to be.  There are things they can do to obstruct the fascists
But it’s also fair to say that, by nominating a poorly qualified and ethically challenged Cabinet, Trump forfeited his right to a speedy confirmation process, and Democrats should therefore slow it down to facilitate the adequate vetting that Trump and Senate Republicans are determined to avoid by rushing the process before all the questionnaires and filings are submitted. Four days of scrutiny on the Senate floor per nominee, even after the committee hearings, is a reasonable standard for fulfilling the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of advice and consent.

Democrats can also withhold their consent from every piece of objectionable legislation McConnell tries to advance. With 48 senators in their caucus, they have the votes to block most bills. But even when Democrats don’t have the votes, they can force McConnell to spend time jumping through procedural hoops. This is the insight McConnell deployed against Reid to manufacture the appearance of gridlock, forcing him to use the cloture process more than 600 times.

But this would mean backing off of the sanctimonious adherence to norms and decorum that often substitutes for ideology with these plutocrats. If only we had a politics that connected people's concerns directly to their elected representatives without 50 levels of donor-fed technocratic institutional bullcrap. Instead we have.. whatever Chuck Schumer is

Why is Trump coddling the terrorists?

If this order was really about trying to do what is says, you would think it would at least get this part right?
Announcing his “extreme vetting” plan, the president invoked the specter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries are on Mr. Trump’s visa ban list.
Not that we should actually countenance the premise, but if we were to humor the notion that we're "safer" for barring entry to people from countries known to have produced terrorists, then why doesn't the rule actually apply to those countries?  Maybe Trump doesn't actually care about fighting terroism.

Dizneylandrieu closes at 3

Your Guide To Dizneylandrieu

Krewe of Spank's 2014 Guide To Dizneylandrieu. The greatest Carnival throw of all time.


This week, Mayor Landrieu issued a public objection to rhetoric about the state of American cities included in President Trump's (I know. It's difficult to say.. right?) inaugural address. I believe this was the offending passage. 
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
Trump is a deliberately incoherent demagogue. He is President today because his campaign successfully evoked the.. to borrow his word.. carnage our growing inequality has wrought on the American middle class and because his confused rhetoric presented a badly distorted picture of that carnage and its actual causes. In his statement, Mitch said Trump "paints with a broad brush."  It's more like he just flings paint at a wall. There's a lot of noise and motion in the act but the resulting image is more color and feeling than precision.

"Inner cities" is a useless descriptor for today's urban landscape anyway. It was always something of a racist dogwhistle and certainly Trump means for it to be here. Today's "inner cities" are less the sort of places where the poor are "trapped" than they are places the poor are being forcibly removed from by waves of gentrification.  Trump should know all about that.  Evicting poor people from their homes in order to make room for his empire of (government subsidized) luxury real estate development has been the core driver of Trump's fortunes for decades.

Mitch Landrieu knows all about this too, of course. The "Resilient New New Orleans" he proudly hypes everywhere he goes is a study in execution of the very same model. Here's a long thing I wrote about that just after Landrieu's own inauguration speech in 2014. Since then, the city's enabling of its predacious oligarchs has only gotten worse. Their most recent victory in the short term rental debate may give the final lie to Trump's image of the "inner city."  How can anyone be trapped in poverty in the city if nobody actually lives there?

It's telling that Mitch's statement fails to call Trump out on the hypocrisy of lamenting the plight of an urban poor rendered far poorer through his own actions. Perhaps because the notion hits too close to home for Mitch himself. Or maybe he's just oblivious. In either case, Mitch merely objects to the negative tone set by the image itself.  For him it's all about the branding.

And anyway despite Trump's and Landrieu's best efforts at removing them, there are still a lot of poor people living in our cities. According to a recent Data Center report 63 percent of income earners in New Orleans earn $35,000 a year or less. In 2015, the child poverty rate in New Orleans was measured at 39 percent.  Our Kabacoffs, Jaegers and Torres's are doing all they can to remedy that by pricing the scourge of poverty out of the city.  They aren't there yet, obviously. But, with a little less negative thinking, we'll get there. At least that's what Mitch seems to be saying.

He's had trouble maintaining the upbeat tone lately, though. It's been especially difficult for Mitch to have Attorney General Jeff Landry in town dishing out his own Trump style demagoguery over violent crime. 
Landry has been locked in a bitter dispute with Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose administration has invoked the city's home rule charter and warned Landry that he lacks the authority "to engage in active law enforcement in New Orleans."

Landrieu, a Democrat, has portrayed Landry, a first-term Republican, as a cowboy seeking to exploit the city's crime epidemic for political gain.

The mayor also has accused Landry of failing to coordinate his efforts with the State Police and the New Orleans Police Department, whose officers are subject to a rigorous federal consent decree that controls virtually every aspect of the NOPD's interactions with suspects and citizens.

"You need clear command and control," Landrieu told reporters Monday. "What (Landry) cannot do is go out by himself and rip and run and do whatever he wants outside of the command and control of the police. He's been told that by a federal judge. We believe that we're right."

It's even worse when Landry's antics serve to empower the mayor's political enemies who are themselves all too happy to pile on.
The officials backing Landry’s task force cited the Police Department’s manpower shortage and the city's high levels of violent crimes in the letters released Thursday.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Sheriff Marlin Gusman and the Police Association of New Orleans have all had pitched political battles of their own with Landrieu’s administration in recent months. But their letters allow Landry to point to local support for his initiative.

“We need all hands on deck if we are going to turn the corner on this public safety crisis,” Cannizzaro said. “I have never seen an attorney general who takes not only an active interest in the public safety of this city, but who also is willing to devote his precious government resources to accomplish the mission of making our streets safer.”
Landry's task force, ostensibly in town to deal with violent crime, has mostly been busting people for marijuana possession. This puts him at odds with the New Orleans City Council who decided last year that police and prosecutorial efforts were better focused elsewhere. This, along with council initiated reforms to juvenile detention policy, eventually put councilmembers at odds with Cannizzaro who has taken an increasingly hard line with regard to this stuff.

The DA has also been cranky about losing 5 percent of his budget to the struggling Public Defender's office. He has been so cranky, in fact, that he recently decided to take out his frustration  by coming down harder on poor people facing misdemeanor charges. These squabbles, among other things, have escalated tensions between Cannizzaro and councilmembers Guidry and Williams in particular as well as the mayor whom Cannizzaro is all too happy to taunt by way of endorsing Landry's grandstanding.  Add to Cannizzaro's gripes the long running feud between the mayor and Sheriff Gusman, the rumored political ambitions of Sidney Torres, and the approach of a new round of municipal elections getting everybody charged up in general, and you can see how Landry's stupid political stunt can easily stir up a hornets' nest.

So the mayor and the governor, under attack from their enemies, must have felt obligated to respond somehow.  Here is what they came up with.
NEW ORLEANS – There will be more lighting in the French Quarter, much of Bourbon Street will be closed off to vehicular traffic during busy times, bars will be forced to close their doors at 3 a.m. and there will be additional crime deterrence measures in other ‘hot spots’ in the city as part of a $40 million plan to keep the city safer.

Governor John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu along with law enforcement leaders announced the additional security measures, as well as proposed changes, at a press briefing Monday.
When in doubt, close some bars.  Also buy some shiny things.  Surveillance cameras are a great way to look like you're spending money on a high tech solution.  And, of course, in the Trump era, they're quite well in line with the zeitgeist. Mitch even takes on Trump's bullying rhetorical style here. As he warns us that the mere act of standing in the public streets of the city renders one subject to close scrutiny by law enforcement, Mitch relishes the tough guy role.
In addition, Landrieu said extra lighting, infrared cameras and more security would ensure that everything can be seen.

"When you go on Bourbon Street, everything you do will be seen," said Landrieu. "Do I need to let that sink in?"
There's a video in that WWL link. I recommend watching it just to get the full smirking effect. Mitchy Moussolini is in charge here, y'all.  Dizneylandrieu closes at 3.

The theater of this is stupid. Mitch is on television pretending to warn would be troublemakers they're being watched.  But his actual audience is Channel 4 evening news viewers. You know, the "Murders not monuments" crowd who've been in his face for the better part of a year; the people Jeff Landry's presence is intended to rile. That's who Mitch is trying to win back over.

It's hilarious that Landrieu began the week smugly chastising Trump's "broad brush" demagoguery of urban crime and ended it in a fit of Trumpist bloviating about the situation in New Orleans. But then Mitch and Trump do share a certain authoritarian streak. This 2014 Lens piece by Tyler Bridges remains the definitive examination.
The Lens interviewed more than 30 New Orleans residents who said that the mayor mistreated or punished them after they expressed a contrary view, or that they had firsthand knowledge of the mayor’s heavy-handed behavior. They include current and former elected officials, business people, a wide range of civic activists, attorneys and an opponent in the 2010 mayoral race.

Some of them say the mayor withheld funding or cut off city contracts. Others say he forced them from city boards or jobs. Still others say he chastised them with curse words over the phone or accosted them in public.

About a dozen of them were willing to speak on the record.

“He will steamroll anyone,” said Babs Johnson, a youth advocate and one-time supporter who said she drew the mayor’s wrath in 2010 by questioning the direction of his recreation department. She believes the mayor has now blackballed nonprofit groups associated with her. “People are afraid of him.”
Also referenced in that article, political consultant Cheron Brylski, who made a stir at the time for publicly describing Mitch as a "productive asshole." This week, she's similarly pleased.

It was Mitch who lobbied hard for the continued presence of the Louisiana State Police in the French Quarter. Until Landry barged into town threatening to usurp his authority, Landrieu didn't have a problem with outside troops occupying the local territory. I thought about that this week when Donald Trump more or less threatened to declare martial law in Chicago. I don't know why Mitch gets so upset with this guy. They're basically steeped in the same sort of strong man ideology. But these days, it seems like there's way more fascists running around out there than we ever cared to admit.  I blame Godwin. Anyway here we have a situation where Landrieu, while feuding publicly with Landry and Trump, launches a policy initiative that basically caves to their agenda and style.  I believe the Trump fans like to use the word "cuck" in this circumstance.

Of course the mayor's security plan makes no sense. At least, as a crime fighting initiative, it doesn't.  Jeff Asher's analysis here, rather politely, points out that a plan to reduce violent crime probably shouldn't be so focused on French Quarter.
If anti-crime measures directed at the French Quarter are successful then they’re most likely to effect relatively low level UCR Part I crimes such as pickpockets and purse snatching. Indeed 84 percent of Bourbon Street crime last year and 70 percent of French Quarter crime were either pickpocket, theft or shoplifting incidents. Reducing property crimes and simple robberies in the French Quarter is a noble idea though it’s worth remembering that the vast majority of violent crimes are occurring elsewhere in the city.

Crime, and specifically violent crime, is pretty low given the sheer quantity of people in the French Quarter every year. That’s why Tulane geographer Richard Campanella said of Bourbon Street “when one divides the all-too-high number of crimes by the astronomical number of total pedestrians in this space, Bourbon’s busiest blocks paradoxically transform from an apparently dangerous place to a relatively safe one.”
But this isn't a crime fighting plan at all. Primarily, it is a political document. It's a PR response to Landry's encroachment and Gusman's and Cannizzaro's criticism.  It is also a classic bit of political opportunism. It takes advantage of a critical moment to ram through a bunch of hobby horse issues that have been floating around the clubhouse for years. Here is the document Mitch's staff produced this week.  Imagine if Jackie Clarkson had written the Patriot Act. This is what it might look like.

In addition to the cameras and barricades and virtual stop-and-frisk policy imposed on anyone entering the Quarter, there is language in the plan about reducing the "culture of permissiveness" through actions such as enhanced parking enforcement and graffiti removal. There's a bit in there about discouraging "negative behaviors" by replacing benches.* There's the ever-popular threat to crack down on or ban entirely street performers and tarot readers. There is also a paragraph about land use and "branding" because somehow that is relevant. 
In the near term, the City will In the near term, the City will seek to limit issuances of adult use occupational licenses, enhance requirements for live entertainment venues, and revise the Vieux CarrĂ© Commission design guidelines to enhance safety and security measures. Overall, this action will lead to a rebranding of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street’s image as a cultural destination.
It's difficult to understand, without indulging a long leap of imagination, just what any of this has to do with reducing violent crime. But it does present a neat compilation of long standing wishes on the part of those who have aspired to create a more Disneyfied French Quarter along the lines of the number noted Trump ally Rudy Giuliani** did on Times Square. As a matter of fact, the mayor's report specifically cites Times Square along with several other questionably sanitized and gentrified urban case studies as an example to follow.

So we're taking advantage of a political moment to strengthen the police state, shut down the bars and strip clubs, and clean out the dirty people we don't like to see making our tourists uncomfortable.  But that's not all. We're also taking advantage of an opportunity to spread a little money around to friends. The Advocate started breaking down how this works the other day.

To begin with, there's the matter of who we're going to buy the crime cameras from.  Some of us recall that issue in particular caused the previous administration a fair amount of trouble.  We're told that this and other capital expenses in the plan are "one time expenditures" and will be paid for by the Convention Center out of their big pot of hotel/motel tax money.*** There is also an estimated $3.8 million in annual expenses expected to be incurred directly by the city for things like stepped up code enforcement, graffiti removal, parking enforcement, towing, and this "flushing" thing.
An additional flushing of Bourbon Street, to begin at 3 a.m., will be added to the routine sanitation schedule and will be carried out by the Department of Sanitation’s contractor with support from NOPD. The contractor will complete the flushing process two more times before 10 a.m. on Bourbon Street with the second pass followed by a mechanical street-sweeper.
Is that Empire Services? Or did a different sanitation contractor score this?  The Advocate story gets some quotes from Jared Brossett who sounds concerned. 
Brossett said Wednesday that the council needs more information about the financing of the proposal, including how the city plans to pay the ongoing costs, whether enough money is going to areas outside the French Quarter and whether all the elements of the plan are really related to public safety.

“$39 million is a significant investment, and I want to make sure that these resources will be adequately utilized across the city to combat crime,” Brossett said. “I would say there are going to be some questions about (things like money for) tow truck operators and sanitation enforcement — I mean, how is that going to combat crime?”
The answer, of course, is it isn't. But that's not really what any of this is about. Rather, like just about anything else that goes on in city government, this is about scoring political points and doing favors for friends largely to the greater detriment of the city's residents and their ever-diminishing quality of life. As it is in Trump's America, so is it also in your city. The demagogues capitalize on our anxieties to get what they want. We continue to find ourselves harassed, over-policed, poorer and less free. Dizneylandrieu is a small world after all.

*New Orleanians with long memories will recall Jackie Clarkson's crusade to install less comfortable benches in Jackson Square in order to discourage the homeless from sleeping on them.

** Rudy! has, like Mitch, also been praised by conservatives for being a "productive asshole."

***That money, by all rights, should be paying for better schools and roads and stuff but instead gets redirected to nice things for "tourism leaders" because everything in this town thoroughly rotten... but that's a longer story than we're here to tell right now.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The market for king cake vodka 2017

Casual observation but it looks like we may have reached a stable equilibrium price at or around $8.00 for a bottle of Taaka. It's the only brand I've been able to find this year so far.

King Cake vodka is happening in 2017

In years previous, higher end competition from Pinnacle and Lucky Player led to a more volatile situation.  This example is from 2013.

The market for king cake vodka

Needless to say, we will continue to monitor the situation as the season progresses.

I don't see Pelican 212 in here

The Jazzfest line-up is out. I just gave it a quick look but it doesn't seem to be as full of mega-star attractions at it has in recent years. That's probably a good thing. The crowd has gotten to be a bit much in recent years.

I see they still haven't fixed this problem, though.
Advanced, early-bird, single-day tickets are $65 through February 14. The advanced ticket price will be $70 beginning on February 15.

The gate price ticket will be $80, an increase of $5 from 2016. Children’s tickets (ages 2 - 10) are $5, as they have been for years, and are available at the gate only.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The revenue problem is the spending problem

The long awaited state legislative task force report on taxes is being finalized tomorrow.

A blue-ribbon panel is planning to issue a stinging denunciation of Louisiana’s tax system on Thursday, when it meets to approve a final report that follows nearly a year of study.

Louisiana’s tax system needs wholesale changes that will result in lower tax rates and fewer tax breaks, reports The Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy.

“A failure to act is not an option,” declares a draft version of the report up for approval on Thursday.

That sounds serious. Rhetorically it is correct. Louisiana's tax system is loaded with special privileges for the wealthy and the well connected it asks the poor to pay for both through direct taxation and annual cuts to services. 
Most of the report, though, focuses on problems with the tax system that have contributed to the budget problems that began under Jindal, who in 2008 inherited a $1 billion budget surplus from Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Lawmakers under Jindal repeatedly chipped away at the state’s ability to raise revenue, in the name of promoting jobs and investment.

In 2008, the state awarded 51 cents in sales tax breaks for every $1 it collected in sales taxes, the study panel found. In 2015, the state gave away $1.18 in sales tax breaks for every $1 it collected in sales taxes.

In 2008, the state awarded $1.08 in corporate income tax breaks for every $1 in corporate taxes it collected. In 2015, the state awarded $2.72 in corporate income tax breaks for every $1 in corporate taxes it collected.
But the recommendations in the report, at least what I've read of them so far, aren't actually very impressive. The key element is a proposal to spread the pain of a one cent sales tax to currently exempted items while simultaneously lowering the rate.That's not going to go very far toward fixing the state's bottom line let alone begin to remedy the essential fairness problem.

The Legislature is about to be called (reluctantly dragged) into special session in order to work on these issues.  If the baseline for negotiations is set by the weak recommendations of the task force, don't expect a lot of positive results.

Purge

Some outlets are reporting these as resignations but more likely they are firings.
The entire senior level management team at the State Department was fired by President Donald Trump’s administration this week, CNN reported Thursday.
CNN’s Elise Labott reported on air that officials told her four top State Department staffers were informed in letters sent by the White House that their service was no longer required. The pro forma resignation letters typically submitted by the heads of federal agencies at the start of new administrations were accepted.
Probably more coming across other departments. Loss of "institutional memory" at State in particular tends to make people the most nervous, though. 

Evil incompetent vs Evil competent

One thing to understand about the flurry of executive orders coming out of the White House this week. They're basically a stream of political tweets. They're scary and loud and they give the impression that the boss is going to work.  But they also might not actually do anything.
President Donald Trump’s team made little effort to consult with federal agency lawyers or lawmakers as they churned out executive actions this week, stoking fears the White House is creating the appearance of real momentum with flawed orders that might be unworkable, unenforceable or even illegal.
All of which is beside the point. For now, the primary purpose is to just keep pushing #content into the timeline. The emphasis is on action. As long as it looks like something new is happening, there's no time to go back and determine whether or not anything is actually happening.  These are less policy papers than they are political posts. Which is why they are written entirely by Trump's political advisers. 
People familiar with Trump’s planning say he wanted daily events to show supporters he would follow through on the items of his campaign agenda. “He was determined to show people that he’s getting to work from Day One,” one person familiar with his planning said. This person said he wanted to take charge and show his supporters that former President Barack Obama’s tenure was decisively over.

But the process is playing out chaotically both inside the White House and throughout the federal government.

Inside the West Wing, it is almost impossible for some aides to know what is in the executive orders, staffers say. They have been written by Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior White House adviser for policy, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, according to people familiar with the matter. Ideas for some of the Trump executive orders came from transition officials and so-called “landing teams,” sources say, who weren’t working in the White House.
This isn't to say the orders are harmless. All of them do at least some damage. Some of them do a tremendous amount. Consider the abortion "gag order" for example.
In the past, the global gag rule meant that foreign NGOs must disavow any involvement with abortion in order to receive U.S. family planning funding. Trump’s version of the global gag rule expands the policy to all global health funding. According to Ehlers, the new rule means that rather than impacting $600 million in U.S. foreign aid, the global gag rule will affect $9.5 billion. Organizations working on AIDS, malaria, or maternal and child health will have to make sure that none of their programs involves so much as an abortion referral. Geeta Rao Gupta, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation who previously served as deputy executive director of UNICEF, gives the example of HIV/AIDS clinics that get U.S. funding to provide antiretrovirals: “If they’re giving advice to women on what to do if they’re pregnant and HIV positive, giving them all the options that exist, they cannot now receive money from the U.S.”
Many others, though, are likely to suffer from difficulty or impossibility of implementation. At least right away. The policies they really want to do and fund will come through the congress. This is not an encouraging thought.




For the time being, though, try and remember that there's a difference between competent and incompetent malevolence.  The incompetence of the Nagin administration in New Orleans was often its saving grace for example.  We've already noted Trump has certain characteristics in common with Nagin. His governing style is likely to follow a similar pattern... for worse and sometimes also for better.

Grandfather clause

Janitorial workers are suing the City of New Orleans for violating its own recently passed "living wage" law. When asked for comment previously, the city's response basically came down to asserting "alternative facts" about what the law actually requires.
The "living wage" law, sponsored by Councilman Jared Brossett, was passed in 2015. It said that starting Jan. 1, 2016, whenever new city contracts were signed or existing ones extended, they had to say that the firms being hired would pay the workers employed on those contracts at least $10.55 an hour and give them at least six paid days off a year.

However, the city has not implemented the policy for existing contracts that were extended last year on the same terms, including its agreement with ETI, the company which employs the janitorial staff at City Hall and other municipal buildings. Those workers are now paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The city argued that such extensions were not covered by the Living Wage Ordinance. It said that adding new wage requirements to such contracts would require them to rebid, which would be a lengthy and disruptive process.
When he signed the law in 2015, the mayor was unequivocal as to its purpose. “If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” the mayor said at the time. Never mind that $10.55 is still a poverty wage. The intent of the law is at least clear. The intent of an administration trying to weasel out of the law's requirements through a dubious grandfather clause is less clear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I just needed to post something

I'm writing some long-ish posts right now about (1) The Trump style in public corruption (2) Mitch's plan to go full Giuliani on Bourbon Street (3) Carnival season (4) Miscellaneous. But that's all taking a very long time and I just started to feel that CONTENT NOW blogger's itch. So look! They're almost done with the SELAwork on Napoleon.

Sod strip

They were out laying sod samples along the edges of the neutral ground last week. It's not clear whether they're going to do the whole thing yet. I thought I'd read they were going to leave it entirely until after parade season. So it was a little suprising to see this rolling out at all.

Sod

This week the crown of the median is still bare. In the meantime they have moved on to actually paving the street.

Paving

From the looks of things, the work on Napoleon could all be wrapped up in about a week or so if the weather cooperates. But the Great Walls dividing Uptowner from Uptowner will stay with us on Jefferson and Louisiana Avenues for at least another year, probably longer. So let's not schedule that Scorpions concert just yet.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sorry, we're closed

Lance Harris has a budget proposal for you to consider. His idea was to demonstrate that the Legislature doesn't need to go into special session this year in order to plug the, now perennial,  budget shortfall.  Except all he did, basically, was he opened up his spreadsheet and just made zeroes in columns until the budget balanced. What that would mean in practice is we're just gonna shut down the state and hang a "We're Closed" sign on the door.
Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris' plan would levy the deepest reduction of $147 million on the health department. Public colleges, the state's social services department and the veterans affairs agency would be protected from hits.

Cuts would fall on roadwork, state prisons, K-12 education, agriculture and the state tourism agency, among others. Louisiana wouldn't use its "rainy day" fund under the plan -- and it could be enacted without calling the full Legislature back to Baton Rouge.
Of course, it's unworkable. But for Harris and the Republicans in the legislature, that's hardly the point. The objective here is to lay groundwork so that they can can claim, when the Governor does call them into session next month, that they tried to get everybody out of having to go.

In other words, the Governor is going to be the Grinch Who Stole Mardi Gras from a lot of these legislators and they want to make sure he is seen as such.

Trump's... er... John Bel Edwards's America

We're gonna have a hard time fighting the fascists in Washington when we keep enabling the fascists in our own backyard.
ST. MARTINVILLE, La. - 

The state's new "Blue Lives Matter" law is already being used here in Acadiana. In the last year, Louisiana became the first state to offer hate crime protections to police officers.

St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert hopes the law will not only save lives, but make offenders think twice before resisting arrest.

"We don't need the general public being murdered for no reason and we don't need officers being murdered for no reason. We all need to just work together," said Hebert.

Hebert is very familiar with the new hate crime law, having already enforced it since it took effect in August.

"Resisting an officer or battery of a police officer was just that charge, simply. But now, Governor Edwards, in the legislation, made it a hate crime now," said Hebert.
We'd love to blame this on Trump but the "Blue Lives Matter" law was endorsed and signed by Governor Edwards last year.

You know.. South Louisiana law enforcement (including the Sheriff's Department overseen by Edwards's brother) has been under a  fair amount of scrutiny for serious abuses of its power and privilege. And now resisting them may constitute a "hate crime."  Heckuva job, guys.

"Investors"

This right here is exactly why Clinton Inc. is poisonous to Democrats.
“She understands that a forensic exam of the campaign is necessary, not only for her, but for the party and other electeds, and for the investors in the campaign,” said a close Hillary Clinton friend in Washington who, like several others, declined to speak on the record because their conversations with one or both Clintons were private. “People want to know that their investment was treated with respect, but that their mistakes wouldn’t be repeated."
The company is doing its due diligence. We are performing a forensic audit to determine why the company failed to hit its numbers. Above all we must ensure the shareholders remain confident. Not a word in this about how your political operation actually connects with people's needs and concerns.  It's the "investors" who matter. 

Have we unlocked the mysteries of space yet?

Came down with a horrid sinus infection over the weekend so I spent most of it laying in bed shivering in the dark. Which seems appropriate given the state of the world.  I was conscious long enough to catch the magnificent inaugural lecture from our esteemed honered (sic) President. Also I made it to one of the marches before I fell out entirely. I'll have pics and stuff later.

Meanwhile, we've got bigger problems closer to home.
A year ago, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration unveiled redesigned brake tags that prominently feature the expiration year, perhaps making it easier for police to spot drivers who don’t keep their tags current.

But officials then gave the city's diminished police force even more help when it comes to ticketing drivers for expired stickers: They quietly decided to let the city’s parking enforcement officers begin scanning parked cars for the violation.
We'll never get around to smashing the fascists in Washington if we can't keep them off our backs in our hometowns. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Keep em talking

Karen Carter Peterson will neither confirm nor deny rumors she is thinking about running for mayor.
Alford reported that Peterson is candidate for a vice chairmanship in the Democratic National Committee. As for a mayoral run, Peterson didn't say much about where she is in the decision-making process when contacted by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.

"Fair assessment of where things are," Peterson said in an email asking her about Alford's report.
Just keep the options open, the speculation running, and the donations coming. That's the game right now.  KCP and fellow potential mayor LaToya Cantrell are scheduled to speak at today's Women's March in Washington Square (as well they should be.) Also potential Council At Large candidate Helena Moreno will be there.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Day of Re-Greatening is upon us

Plan accordingly.



Here's a look at today's planned protests in New Orleans. At a glance, it looks like the first is for practitioners of smug performative virtue signaling while the second is for practitioners of self-righteous performative virtue signaling. I guess they're all my people in one stupid way or another so I'll have to get out and see for myself at some point.

Can't keep doing the same thing

Happy Mardi Gras, losers

As we prepare to welcome the time of the dark lord (pictured*) this weekend, it's time for the highly compensated political professionals who run the Democratic Party... and who failed miserably in 2016... to start figuring out how to do better.  There isn't a whole lot of cause for optimism.

The DNC apparatus runs on money.  Not that there's anything wrong with that in and of itself.  But the people who have been in charge of raising that money only know how to get it by cozying up to banks, and tech billionaires and multinational corporations which in turn become the source of the corruption which most people see as Exhibit A in the case of "Why Dems Lose Elections."  The problem is that the people in charge would very much like to remain in charge. But the party can't make the kind of transformation it needs to make unless they are relieved of duty. 

Okay so you've got your pitchfork and your torch and you are ready to go round up some #HillaryMen. The problem, then, is what next? Unless you replace the Democratic Party establishment, you can't repeal the Democratic Party establishment. The object is to find new ways of doing stuff or else the default machinery just keeps chugging right along. As with most things, this is easier said than done.

American Poli Sci 101 theory holds that the parties go through cycles of emphasis; that they can either choose to be the Presidential Party or the Congressional Party. It often works out this way... our constitutional structure all but invites it to, actually.. but I don't think it necessarily has to be like this. In any case, I would argue that the GOP has been the "stronger" party in terms of raw policy influence in recent decades even during the years when Democrats have held the White House.

This week, PBS Frontline ran a pretty okay four hour retrospective of the Obama years. I have quibbles with some of the points of emphasis and interpretations of events.  But it does a fair job of documenting the political (ugh) narrative of this Presidency. The film doesn't set out to make this point as explicitly as it should but the Obama years should serve as an object lesson in how to run an effective opposition. The pattern worked as follows:  1) Republicans stake out an unreasonable, obstructionist position. 2) Obama rushes to meet them halfway 3) This not only fails to satisfy them but they go on shouting and screaming that he won't meet them all the way because socialist/Muslim/Kenya.. yargle bargle and so on.  4) The press shakes its head at all the "polarization" because both sides. The Republicans more or less control the agenda in this fashion. This was all obvious and many of us identified it at the very beginning.

While that went on unchecked, Republicans used the perception of powerlessness as a rallying cry at election time to build strength in the Congress and in state houses across the country. Meanwhile the Democrats' sole focus on the Presidency only exacerbated their failures everywhere else. The party was built to raise money from big donors to run big Presidential campaigns every four years with money trickled out strategically to select "winnable" districts elsewhere. Over time such districts became fewer and fewer.

So it takes more than just winning Presidential elections in order to make a real difference.   Keith Ellison, currently bidding to chair the DNC, understands that. Or, at least, he says he does.
I think the reason that we've had those losses is because the DNC is viewed more as a presidential campaign apparatus rather than a program or an agency designed to get Democrats elected up and down the ballot all the time. The DNC really should be the instrument for the rank-and-file Democrat all over the country — in Idaho, in Chicago, in Minneapolis, in Florida. But we treat it like it's not the Democratic National Committee; we treat it like it's the Democratic Presidential National Committee. Because of that, we have not really had the outreach and the door knocking and the engagement year-round that we need to have. That's too bad. 

The thing is that before 2008, we had the 50-state strategy, and that is in fact still pretty popular among DNC members. As you notice, we did pretty well in 2006; we did pretty well in 2008. I think that's because we still had enough connectivity in place from that 50-state strategy, but as time wore on, the tremendous popularity of Barack Obama, his amazing rhetorical skills, his just unparalleled ability to explain things and to inspire people really is the fuel that we lived on. Because of that, we lost a lot.
Good luck to him. The so-called Hillary Wing is already circling the wagons
Third Way is joining a crowded field of Democratic organizations which are redefining themselves in reaction to the upending results of the November election and trying to map out a path forward. Many outside groups that backed Hillary Clinton during the campaign are now vying to become the nerve center of the anti-Trump opposition in Washington, D.C., ready to fight him on everything from Cabinet nominations to key legislative battles like the upcoming showdown over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

The liberal, non-profit Center for American Progress, led by Clinton loyalist Neera Tanden, has reorganized itself with the mission of resisting Trump’s legislative efforts. Clinton defender David Brock is also relaunching his super PAC, American Bridge, to act as a watchdog group monitoring Trump. And the super PAC that spent close to $200 million to support Clinton’s presidential bid, Priorities USA, is also rebranding itself as an opposition group to the president-elect, with the longer term goal of bringing voters back to the party.
Naturally, their "rebranding" strategy involves moving the party even further to the right. 
Part of the economic message the group is driving -- which is in line with its centrist ideology -- is to steer the Democratic Party away from being led into a populist lurch to the left by leaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“Populism is inherently anti-government,” Cowan said. “That works if you’re a right-wing conservative, like Donald Trump. That doesn’t work if you’re the party of government." He added: "You can’t meet right-wing populism effectively as a matter of politics or governing with big government liberal populism, or 1990s centrism. You have to do something entirely new for a new era.”
Did any of that make sense to you?  No, me neither. "Populism" = "anti-government" so you can't do "big government populism." This is what marketing ghouls who care nothing about people's actual problems sound like. They're definitely going to "do something entirely new for a new era," though, these same people who have been running things forever.

So far the "something new" is an amazingly new level of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand these wealthy bundlers are branding themselves as a #Resistance to an administration they have labeled illegitimate and traitorous. (I'm open to that rhetoric, by the way. But not on the unsubstantiated conspiracy grounds they are currently pushing.) On the other hand they are fighting tooth and nail to defend the very ideology the incoming right wing government is animated by. In other words, they are allowing their own cynical ambition to snuff out whatever meaningful "resistance" their slogan purports to offer.

The worst thing about all of this is it's very likely the conservatives are going to win and the Tandens and Brocks of the world will continue to run whatever is left of the Democratic Party machine as long as it pulls in enough money.  As far as they're concerned, that's Mission Accomplished. They're the pros. They can do this forever. The rest of us can't go on doing the same thing, though.  It's costing us too much.

So the outlook isn't good but the best advice I can offer Democrats, if they want any, is this. Protest everything (GOP is about to make that difficult for you), obstruct whatever you can (difficult with no control of any branch of government), and dump your corporate faction as soon as you can. That last bit might actually be the easiest one, all things considered.  Today is a good time to get started.

*Actually the monster in the photo is David Simon encountered on Mardi Gras Day 2016.  Turns out you never know who you're #Standing with at the parade.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Today at the monster pageant



Today's guest is Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin
When OneWest foreclosure victims heard that Mnuchin was chosen to lead the Treasury Department, they were shocked. “When he was nominated, it was like the floor crashed underneath me,” said McCreary. “It brought back everything. His name was on my paperwork.”

Other victims offered similar remarks. “For someone who will be tasked with making sure that the economy is doing all it can for people like me, even when it seems the system is rigged against them, Steve Mnuchin is not that person,” said forum participant Cristina Clifford, who lost her condo in Whittier, California, after also being told by OneWest to fall behind on payments.
“I think the first thing is he belongs in a prison,” said Tara Inden.

The Mnuchin nomination can only be derailed through Republican opposition, which is relatively unlikely. But it has set off a new wave of activism nationwide.

Activists have been camped out at Goldman Sachs’s New York City headquarters since Tuesday, targeting Mnuchin’s former employer of 17 years. In an echo of a protest to save her home in 2011, OneWest customer Rose Mary Gudiel of La Puente, California, led a march in the rain to Mnuchin’s Bel-Air mansion on Wednesday night, placing furniture on his driveway before police dispersed roughly 60 activists. (Mnuchin famously scrubbed his address off the internet after the 2011 protest, saying his family was subjected to “public ire at the banking industry.” But the same organizers found his house again.)

“I put it in the middle of a resurgence of housing justice activism,” said Amy Schur of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “Hard-hit communities are organizing across the country like they haven’t in years. Sometimes we might have kept eyes on the powers that be locally, but with the likes of Trump and this cabinet, we have to take this fight nationally as well.”
Every one of Trump's cabinet appointees merits its own "new wave of activism."  There's nothing in Washington... or in your state government, probably... backstopping any of this stuff. The only thing to do is demonstrate, march, be an annoying phone presence in the ears of congressional staffers. And keep doing that until this turns around. If it turns around. 

I think we just found a new tourism marketing slogan

Thanks, RTA.
However, residents at the meeting expressed concern because some felt the new structure's design lacked several things. One issue many at the meeting had, was that the terminal didn't have a covered walkway to get to and from the ferry.

"If it's bad weather, like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, the lines are so deep you know they're not going to stand out there," said Algiers resident and business-owner, Warren Munster.

"While it's aesthetically pleasing it's not very practical for the average citizen living here," said Algiers resident and business-owner, Wendy Portier. "While there are new ferry boats that look beautiful, there's no shelter to get from the terminal to the boat. I'm concerned about people getting wet and it's cold and rains a lot sometimes."
It's too long for a hashtag but maybe NOTMC can have that printed on some fliers or something. 

It will be bad

Very bad
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.
And there is nothing and no one there to stop any of it. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

They all go to Jimmie Woods' house

Guess we can move Karen Carter-Peterson out of the "could consider" category and put her squarely into the "might be considering" category of potential mayoral candidates.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is set to host a fundraiser for state senator and Louisiana Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson next week at the home of Jimmie Woods, whose company, Metro Service Group, holds one of New Orleans' major trash collection contracts.

Late last year, Edwards joined U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond in co-hosting another fundraiser at Woods' sprawling home by Bayou St. John, this one for one of Peterson's Senate colleagues, J.P. Morrell, who chairs the body's Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee.

What are they raising money for, exactly? Neither invitation said.
We're still a long way off from qualifying day so nobody has to commit to anything just yet.  Meanwhile, as Grace points out, you can raise a lot of money pretending to think about running for mayor even if you never actually jump in. 
By socking away some cash and promoting their big-time relationships, Peterson and Morrell are buying themselves time and positioning themselves to jump in too. Or not. It's starting to look as if the city's voters just won't know for a while.
If that's true, then we'll expect to see the list of maybes keep growing for a few more months at least... along with Jimmie Woods' catering bill. 

Fake it til you make it

Not exactly the case with regard to a guy who basically inherited everything he has. Still, as an "imposter syndrome" laden failson, Trump is sort of a man for his time, I guess.
But one thing I think that we have overlooked as we see Trump trying to delegitimize others is what I suspect is a feeling he has inside that nothing he’s ever achieved himself has ever been legitimate. This is a person who has never known whether anybody wants to be around him because he’s a person they want to be around or they want to be around his money. And since he’s promoted himself as this glamorous, incredibly wealthy person, that’s the draw he’s always given. So he doesn’t know if he has any legitimate relationships outside of his family, and that’s why he emphasizes family. … He’s always kind of gaming the system—not, in my view, winning on the merits. And even his election was with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. So he has this deep fear that he is himself not a legitimate president, and I think that’s why he goes to such great lengths to delegitimize even the intelligence community, which is the president’s key resource in security, and he’s going to do this demeaning and delegitimizing behavior rather than accept what they have to tell him.
Once you come to terms with the concept that we are none of us special and all here more or less by accident, you can go two directions with this knowledge. You can recognize that there's no need to prove anything to anyone and our only true imperative is to look out for each other as best as we can. Nobody has to be a hero or anything. It can mean simply staying out of the way and doing as little damage as possible, if you like. It's up to you. No one is keeping score.

The other direction you can go is to take on a narcissistic mission to establish and demonstrate your own validity through continual pursuit of needlessly competitive assholery.   Guess which way Trump went.

Groundwork

The Trade Mart appeal was heard today.  A ruling could come any time within the next month. So, conceivably, we could know by Mardi Gras whether or not they can finally start making that Four Seasons... or if they have to start over... or if Stuart Fisher will ever get his ten dollars back.

The other day, contractors were spotted outside "preparing the soil" for the start of work. So it seems like they're pretty confident.  We'll see.

Triggers

The city has been aggressively adding airline service over the past year or so. So many, in fact, that it turns out they've met their quota.
"In 2016, the growth of the Louis Armstrong International Airport exceeded our
expectations yet again," Landrieu said. "With increased service via 17 airlines and 59 non-stop destinations, including 7 international destinations, we have hit the triggers
for additional expansion.”
That's interesting. It's good news.  But I'd like to know more about how that worked out. 

We're never going to fix this

Bren Hasae is head of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Today, in Baton Rouge, he presented the latest version of the state's coastal master plan to an oversight board. The talk, in recent years, tends to emphasize the "Protection" aspect of the agency's mission rather than "Restoration." As Haase told the committee as much once again.
“We’re never going to get back to the coastline we had in 1930s," Haase said in an interview after presenting the draft plan for the first time to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board.

That’s provided $50 billion can be found, which it has not. About $15 billion to $18 billion is “plausibly” available from a variety of sources, including the federal government, settlements from the BP Deepwater Horizon incident and the state, Haase said. Probably $150 billion is needed, but that’s not as realistic as finding $50 billion, he added.
We're never going to restore the coastline. And even given what we think we can do, we still aren't committed to paying for it.

Meanwhile... 
Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.
Is it a Chinese plot?  We know industrialization in China has contributed to global warming just as it has in the West. On the other hand, China's move this week to cancel over 100 coal plants is the latest indicator of its effort to slow that trend. Although, much like the CPRA, China's climate policy isn't anywhere near what we would call the "Restoration" phase.
That said, there are a whole bunch of important asterisks here. First, Beijing has only ordered the provinces to cancel the plants. The provincial governments still have to actually comply. (And we’ve seen some provinces defy Beijing on overcapacity cuts before.)

Second, even under the new cap, Chinese coal capacity still has some room to expand going forward — which is why environmental groups like Greenpeace are calling on the government to go even further and cancel the rest of the dozens of new coal projects still in various stages of planning. 

Third, while any slowdown in Chinese coal demand is good news for climate change, it’s not great news for climate change. If the world wants to avoid drastic global warming — typically defined as 2°C or more — then it’s not enough for China’s CO2 emissions to simply plateau. They have to fall, very drastically. Doing that will require more than simply canceling any future coal plants. It will mean either retiring existing coal plants and replacing them with cleaner sources (as the United States is currently doing) or retrofitting the plants with carbon capture technology and burying their emissions underground.
 And that brings us back to the point.  Nothing anyone is doing right now has anything to do with "fixing" climate change.  Politics doesn't work that way.  The disaster is coming... actually is already here. All politics can do for us is determine who among us will bear the greatest costs of the disaster (and who might even benefit.)  As usual, the world's poorer classes are losing that fight to its ruling elite.

Don't expect that to change under a Trump Administration empowered by Trump's absurd (and inconsistent) proclamations to sound almost rational by comparison even while maintaining a policy of denialism.
Scott Pruitt, for his part, said that climate change is "subject to continuing debate and dialogue" (a meaningless truism that’s often used to stonewall any discussion of actual action). The most he would say about what he would do was: “I believe the EPA has a very important role to perform in regulating CO2." This is an accurate summary of what the law says, although given that Pruitt has sued to block every concrete step Obama’s EPA actually took to regulate CO2, it’s wildly unclear what he means by “regulating.” His track record thus far suggests he’ll do as little as humanly possible about climate change.

As my colleague David Roberts noted the other day, the term of art for this stance — which Tillerson, Zinke, and Pruitt all share — is “lukewarmism.” A lukewarmer is someone who won’t be so crass as to argue that climate change is a hoax, and doesn’t really want to fight over whether climate change is actually happening, but certainly has no intention of supporting serious emissions reductions anytime soon and will usually quibble endlessly about the extent and severity of global warming.
 At Pruitt's confirmation hearing today, Senatore Jim Inhoffe was playing his role in the farce.




Clearing the way for everyone else to "teach the controversy" so to speak. But the temperature keeps rising and the ocean is coming to get us. As long as the friends and backers of Trump, Pruitt, Tillerson et al can continue to maximize profits in the meantime, then those men will have done their job.