Wednesday, January 31, 2018

High deference

A federal judge refused to order a halt to construction on Bayou Bridge.  This isn't the end of the case but there's little reason to expect success. At least that's what the judge says.

Dick said the plaintiffs correctly noted that they didn’t have to “win the case” at this stage. But the judge said she couldn’t justify the “extraordinary remedy” of a temporary restraining order because she isn’t convinced it’s “substantially likely” the groups will “prevail on the merits” of the case.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said in an email Tuesday that “construction activities” began in the basin earlier this month.

Yesterday a letter appeared in the Advocate laying out some of the lawsuit's complaints. Among those, the Corps of Engineers' faulty adherence to its own permitting procedure. 
The Corps must also analyze and address the cumulative impacts of a proposed project. Cumulative impacts are the result of any past, present, or future actions that are reasonably certain to occur. Such effects “can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.”

Leaving spoil banks in place after completion of pipeline construction is a violation of permits issued by the Corps. However, the Corps has failed to enforce such permits; allowing pipeline companies to leave these spoil banks in place for years or decades, to the considerable detriment of the Basin’s ecology. Given budget cuts to all agencies, I’ll speculate there isn’t funding to enforce the law. Permit cost needs to be high enough to pay for verification of compliance. And failure to comply should carry a penalty big enough so it’s cheaper to comply than not.
But, as the judge points out, the Corps tends to get a lot of leeway.
Judge Dick, however, said she reviewed the Corps’ 92-page environmental assessment and “cannot find that the Corps was arbitrary and capricious” in its review.

“Simply having an opposing opinion, or disagreeing with the mitigation plans imposed, is insufficient to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, especially in light of the high deference that the law requires the Court to afford the Corps,” she wrote.
Right now flooded out Houstonians are grappling with the implications of that same high deference. We're already pretty familiar with it ourselves.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What are they there to "assist" with?

The reason the State Police are so valuable (in the mayor's estimation) in policing the French Quarter is they are allowed to get away with more.
But the proceedings opened a window into the disparate rule books governing the State Police and the New Orleans Police Department. The NOPD is subject to a strict federal consent decree that forbids racial profiling and allows officers to make investigatory stops only when they have "reasonable suspicion that a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in the commission of a crime."

The State Police began patrolling the French Quarter on a regular basis in 2014 following a high-profile shooting on Bourbon Street that killed one woman and wounded nine people. Since then, troopers have assisted the NOPD in seizing weapons and drugs and investigated a host of other crimes at a time when the NOPD has struggled to recruit new officers.

"We were never told not to do our job," Edmonson said in a recent deposition. City officials, he added, "clearly knew what we brought to the table" when they requested assistance patrolling the French Quarter. 
There is an expectation right now that the NOPD consent decree may be coming to an end soon. At which time they can go back to doing their own bullying and harassing of citizens without consequence and the State Police "assistance" is likely to end. 

Republican legislators love the fiscal cliff

They don't really care if the state is solvent or not. They do care about making sure their wealthiest patrons don't have to pay taxes.  And they love using any resulting crisis as an excuse to slash Medicaid benefits.

It is going to be another fun special session.

Out of the goodness of their hearts

These mega-companies just want to help you.  No other motive.  I think that's nice.

The new company will be independent and "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." The businesses said the new venture's initial focus would be on technology that provides "simplified, high-quality and transparent" care.

It was not clear if the ultimate goal involves expanding the ambitious project beyond Amazon, Berkshire or JPMorgan. However, JPMorgan's Dimon said Tuesday that, "our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Still out of compliance

The specialist appointed to do Marlin Gusman's job for him has failed.
Less than two weeks after a damning report from federal monitors called the New Orleans jail “critically unsafe,” the lockup’s court-appointed administrator has resigned.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said Monday he had accepted the resignation of Gary Maynard, who has run the jail’s day-to-day operations as compliance director since October 2016. Africk said he has appointed Darnley R. Hodge, who currently serves as a jail monitor, as acting director effective Feb. 19.
Next man up, right?  Can't wait for Gusman (who has been largely sidelined during this period) to launch his, "See? This really is a hard job" reelection campaign.

Still rounding up the usual suspects

Eventually, they'll charge somebody with something in order to try and justify all the raids.  But it's going to take a while to figure out how who and how.
Criminal charges could be filed at the conclusion of the operation, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

But as of yet, there are no charges of human trafficking - the ostensible cause for the crack-down - and police have not made public any evidence of such activity. Harrison said police are continuing to investigate that angle of the operation.
"Continuing to investigate" someone to pin a wholesale closure of all the strip clubs in the Quarter on. We'll get back to you when we pick one.

"The forecast could change in the coming days"

Weather people. What do they even know?
Carnival season kicks into high gear this weekend, with more than two dozen parades set to roll in the New Orleans area. So the big question is: will the weather cooperate?

According to the National Weather Service, the first half of the week should stay dry in New Orleans, but a cold front moving into the area on Thursday could bring rain back into the forecast for the weekend. On Friday, showers are more likely early in the day, with a break in rain chances possible late Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service said. However, moisture is expected to return again on Saturday night into Sunday. On Monday morning, the Weather Service said that Sunday will bring the biggest chance of rain, with showers likely during the day.

Highs on each day will range in the upper 50s to low 60s, the Weather Service said.

The forecast could change in the coming days.
The forecast can certainly change.  We learned this Saturday night when, through what we can only assume was spiritual intervention, a day of thunderstorms and "flash flood warnings" gave way to balmy temperatures and a light fog.  Suddenly, improbably, there it was; the ideal atmosphere for a parade in the Quarter.

Bienville's Wet Dream

We should have known it would happen this way.  There's no way the same universe that allowed Stefon Diggs to take a playoff win away from the Saints was also going to rain out Krewe Du Vieux during the Tricentennial Mardi Gras. This is merely an absurd existence we are living through, not a deliberately cruel one. It's important to remember that.

Tricentennial Cake

To help celebrate the city's 300th, KDV enlisted geographer, New Orleans know-it-all dude (and one time Rising Tide keynote speaker) Richard Campanella as its King.  Here he is trying to throw to the balconies.

Richard Campanella

For his latest NOLA.com column, Campanella published a "virtual tour" of the parade route. If you're reading this right now, you probably know KDV pretty well. But, for the sake of covering all of our bases, here is Campanella's introductory description from that article.
Krewe du Vieux, which rolls Saturday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m., is best known for its ribald satire of public figures and current events. But in its structural form and route geography (small mule-drawn floats on old, narrow streets packed with revelers), the parade is something of a throwback to 19th-century Carnival.
The KDV format and ethos is among the purest exemplars of the creative disorder and subversion of social and political norms that is central to the spirit of Carnival. Predictably, this spirit is always in tension with the established social and political hierarchy which seeks to assert itself in various ways during the season as well.  Sometimes this tension contributes to the pageant. For example, this is the time when local blue bloods present their debutantes to society. To do this, they style themselves as royalty presiding over elaborate balls where the city's elite are expected to literally line up and bow to them to the undying amusement of everyone.

There are also ways in which the exertion of elite privilege detracts from the celebration.  Think about the discrepancy in parade fees charged to neighborhood level parading groups vs. what the larger, wealthier krewes are expected to pay. Or the present effort to limit the number of individual bands and marching groups who appear in parades. Here, by the way, is a photo of the balcony Campanella was throwing to in the previous one.  It's a little blurry but the sign says, "Marching Clubs Matter."

Marching Clubs Matter

And these are only a few of the  thousand ways the more organic aspects of Carnival tend to be repressed by the city's bias toward the tourism industry and the security state.
For Carnival season, city cameras are also being installed along the Uptown, Mid-City and West Bank parade routes, Miller said. Those cameras may be moved later to other locations, he said.

In total, there will be about 70 cameras watching the 8th District, which includes the French Quarter and Central Business District, and about a dozen locations with cameras along the parade routes, Miller said.

The flashing lights on the new cameras are intended to make sure the devices are visible to residents who have requested cameras in their neighborhoods and also to discourage crime in those areas, Miller said.

The lights haven’t gone smoothly at all locations.
I think the lights are actually flashing, "Be safe," in Morse code. But I will have to remember to check that later. In the meantime, someone needs to help me FOIA the tapes so we can finally make that #KreweOfChad nature documentary.  Mayor-Elect Cantrell says the cameras are, "better than I ever imagined" so I assume the picture quality is very good.

Speaking of LaToya, here's another terrific case of elite pressure working against the subversive Carnival instinct. It looks like incoming mayor's relationship with the business class folks who run the Krewe of Muses is crimping that parade's traditional aspiration toward satire.
The all-female Krewe of Muses is one of the Carnival organizations that use their parades to satirize and poke fun at politicians and other celebrities.

It appears, however, that the city's first woman mayor is getting a pass this year.

The group announced Friday that Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell will in fact be the krewe's Honorary Muse for the 2018 parade. She will lead the procession on Feb. 8, riding in the "shoe float," a 17-foot-tall, fiber-optic-encrusted red pump.
This is dereliction of duty. At least come up with a way to make it fun for people. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am definitely now on a quest to catch a shoe from LaToya this year. But what if they came up with a way to make it more interesting.

For example, check out this float the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office rolled in the Krewe of Poseidon over the weekend. It is designed to collect beads from the crowd for the purpose of turning them over to a local charity for recycling.  You can "donate" your beads to the cause by throwing them at targets on the side of the truck. But, as an extra incentive for the crowd, a gigantic likeness of Sheriff Randy Smith is riding on the front of the float for people to throw at as well much the way attendees at Bacchus enjoy throwing back at King Kong. (By the way, Bacchus is upping their ape game this year, it seems.)

But since the Muses have an actual live LaToya Cantrell available, it seems like they've missed an opportunity to do some fundraising themselves.  How much trouble would it have been to put LaToya on the Bathing Muses float rigged up as a dunking booth?  Not a single strand of beads would have found its way into a storm drain that night.  Oh well. Nothing is guaranteed to go perfectly. Not even the weather. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Security State Gras

Box of Wine parade

It's parade season! Who is ready to go out walking in the streets after dark?
Well, here's something from a New York Times reporter that the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau won't be touting (for a change):

That's the Twitter account of Jada Yuan, The New York Times' "52 Places to Go" reporter, who will be traveling the globe over the next year, reporting from the Times' much-touted list of travel destinations — of which New Orleans was No. 1, baby. (Based on Yuan's observation, it's more like No. 1 with a bullet.)
Yuan's tweet happened over 24 hours ago so it's already been through the full cycle of NOLA outrage by now.  A bunch of people got mad. And then a bunch of other people got mad that those people got mad.  And then the two or three possible jokes that could be made out of it got blurted simultaneously by 10,000 internet users.  Finally, everybody stroked their chins and sighed before retreating to their corners.  Because one of the obvious jokes is directly applicable to evening Carnival events, there's a second wave coming once the parades start, so be ready for that. In the meantime, just try and "be safe."

Gambit's take in that article supposes the comment might have made tourism officials nervous. But I have to wonder about that.  After all, we've already seen the city is pushing harder than ever this year to get people off the streets as early as possible.  One wonders if they really want you out there at all. 
Krewes are being asked to limit the number of walking groups that lead off their parades or are interspersed between floats. Officials are asking that parades start with no more than a dozen groups — marching bands, dance troupes and unique organizations like the Rolling Elvi — before the first float, with one group following each float after that.
Not to re-hash an earlier complaint, but the marching clubs and bands aren't what's slowing the parades down.  Most delays have to do with broken down floats.  And when multiple parades have to follow one another along a single route, a break down in one parade puts everybody behind schedule.  But the city's action doesn't address any of that.  Instead they're going after these smaller groups who, with their low-barrier for entry and penchant for creativity are among the best vectors for lower and middle class local residents to participate in what is ostensibly still their city's celebration of itself.  Each year it seems like the elites in charge give less and less of a damn about any of that, though.

Dragon and NOPD

As I'm typing this, we're currently biting our nails over the forecast for Saturday's Krewe Du Vieux. It looks pretty bad.  I've seen some jokes that maybe the theme is tempting fate a bit.

Monde de Merde 2018

But I'm also sitting here wondering how much trouble it would be to just move it back one day to Sunday night if they had to. Lots of parades have make-up dates. And KDV happens early enough in the calendar that it wouldn't conflict with anything the next day. It's possible that a postponement would be inconvenient for the membership. But it's also worth asking if the city isn't interested in accommodating what is essentially a big marching club. If they're choosing not to help, why is that?

Anyway, the odds are we're all gonna get a little soggy on Saturday night.  That's a bummer. But it's only the beginning and there's plenty more to come. Let's try and keep the big fat security state (Security State Gras) from harshing our buzz too much.  Here are a few items to get us in the swing of things.

It's an early Mardi Gras this year. There won't be another one this early until 2024.   That means there will be some chilly nights. But it also tends to make for lighter and less "Spring Breaky" crowds. Some people prefer that. Some don't. I've never had a preference for either an early or late season. But I would very much prefer that Carnival remain a "moveable feast." There is some speculation that it may not. There's an element of mystery that comes with a holiday pegged to the lunar cycle. It would be a shame to lose that.

Because Mardi Gras is so early this year, everybody is rushing to get their king cakes in now. You'd think the short season would make for fewer and less baroque elaborations on the king cake theme but The Advocate is on a mission to prove you wrong. Ian McNulty has already sampled a doberge king cake, a crawfish king cake, even a beer king cake among several other exotic examples. Meanwhile, NOLA.com alerts us to a style of king cake ice cream we were not previously aware of.

Also, last week we ran across this item.
Traditional Rock-n-Sake Sushi King Cake comes standard filled with snow crab and cream cheese pressed with sushi rice as the "dough" with assorted toppings of avocado, tuna, spicy tuna, fresh salmon, yellowtail, lemon zest, yuzu tobiko, wasabi tobiko, rainbow sprouts, crunchy tempura flakes, jalapenos, green onions, thin slices of lime, smelt roe, dots of sriracha, eel sauce, spicy mayo, chili-sesame oil, ponzu, and voodoo sauces.
"Sushi King Cake" is a pretty good hook. But, really, it's just a big roll shaped into an oval.  It sounds perfectly edible. Speaking of which, I find I am 2 for 2 in getting stuck with the baby this year the latest incident coming about just this Thursday.

King cake baby 2

Maybe the short season really is a good thing.

Finally, no king cake discussion would be complete without our annual look at the market for king cake flavored vodka.  It appears to be crashing badly this season.  Where once there were three brands available at most outlets, there is now only the bottom shelf Taaka in stock at Rouses. And they are having trouble giving even that away.  The price opened at $7.39 on January 11.

Taaka opens at a medium price

And is now all the way down to $6.99 as of January 23.

King Cake vodka mid January

There is a King Cake Festival now, as well. (Of course there is.) It is this Sunday in Champions Square.

Also coming back, the Jefferson Parish "Family Gras" (literally Fat Family) for those parents who still believe, even in 2018, that the city is some sort of hellish no-go zone for children.  Don't get me wrong. As always, I encourage everyone to do their part to spread the festivities out across as wide a geographical range as possible.  It's just JP's marketing implication that theirs is the only "family friendly" setting that gets annoying.  But, hey, they do have Oates. Nobody can deny that.

Expect plenty of S&WB jokes at Carnival this year.  It looks like S&WB themselves may have beaten us to the first one, actually.
Aside from leaves, mud and sundry sludge, there's one festive item that cleaning crews sucking out thousands of storm drains in New Orleans have found in droves recently.

Mardi Gras beads. Tons of them.

Specifically: 93,000 pounds on a five-block stretch of St. Charles Avenue downtown.
Is that a lot? It sounds like a lot.  The five-block stretch referenced here is between Lee Circle and Poydras Street which isn't too surprising. It's the point in the route where float riders are prone to suddenly realize they have bought too many beads and begin to furiously dump them overboard in a panic. It's also where spectators are the most confined into the high rise scaffolding seen here which results in a fair amount of unrecoverable spillage into the street.


Here is some new instructional artwork I noticed on Napoleon Avenue this week. Maybe the alligator will help people be more conscientious in the future.

Only rain in the drain

Meanwhile, it's time to get out and practice walking in the streets so we know what to do after it gets dark.  Here we see the KDV sub-Krewe of Underwear doing just that last weekend in the Marigny.

Needs work, maybe.

And here is the Singleton Charter School Marching Band stomping around the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

Looking a bit better. Be safe.

More raids

What are they even charging the clubs with? Everybody keeps throwing around the phrase "human trafficking" but no one has found any evidence of that.  And no one has said why these raids are occurring right now.
Three dancers interviewed since the raids said they are skeptical of law enforcement's commitment to protecting workers in the French Quarter, saying the NOPD's officers in the raid treated dancers like they were criminals. The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has not announced any charges or released any records following the raids, saying they will make the illegal activity they documented public Feb. 6.

That's when the four clubs -- Rick's Sporting Saloon, Dixie Divas, Temptations and Scores -- are due for a hearing on the emergency suspensions of their business licenses. An additional four clubs, Rick's Cabaret, Hunk Oasis, Larry Flynt's Hustler Barely Legal and Stiletto's, were served with emergency suspensions on Thursday (Jan. 25).
We're running up on to the heart of Carnival season. It's a bad time for all these people to be missing work. There's apparently going to be a march next Friday to protest the raids. Maybe catch that after Oshun passes.

So what happens if they violate the NDAs?

Nobody seems to know yet.
It remains unclear how the agreements would be enforced. Shachat said she didn’t know of any penalty clause in the documents.

The New Orleans Advocate requested the exact language used in the agreements but did not receive a copy Thursday.
Follow up question. Karen, have you read them?  Somebody is probably going to... um... disclose the language to the media sooner or later.  Seems silly to have people sign something that doesn't actually hold them to anything.  It's not like these are fake subpoenas, right?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Speak no evil

The new thing that happened in the credit card saga is they got the State Supreme Court to appoint an ad-hoc judge who will now decide whether or not the Orleans Parish judges need to recuse themselves. In other words, very little happened.

In any case, let's not hold our breaths for much to come of this. That isn't to say that there's nothing to it. It's just that this "investigation" isn't going to come near anything of any substance. For one thing, the credit card abuse isn't just a LaToya story.  It's more one of those "everybody does it" type of bad practices which should probably be ended. But, in order to do that, you have to turn over everybody's apple cart and our political elites like their apples. Also Jeff Landry really is just out to get LaToya for crass political purposes here so he's not interested in doing any of that the right way.

I've mentioned previously (Linking back to my own blog a lot today. Sorry.) that a potential investigation into Cantrell's finances could be one thread into the wider FNBC scandal which would be a ton of fun to pull on.  But, again, we run into the apple cart problem combined with the Attorney General's lack of sincerity and, well, just don't expect any of this to go anywhere. There are too many people with too much to lose by talking.

Speaking of which..
New Orleans mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell has obtained non-disclosure agreements from members of her transition advisory team and will also collect them from committee members she's appointed to help shape city policy ahead of her inauguration in May, her team announced this week.

The non-disclosure agreements will prohibit transition advisors and the committee members from communicating about what occurs during closed-door meetings during the three-month period before she takes office. The move represents an unusual effort to keep discussions and decisions about Cantrell's leadership plans, which will include personnel hires, shielded from the general public.
Totally normal move toward kicking off an open an honest city administration. Nobody can talk to the public about what's going on. Ever. 
Karen Carvin, a spokeswoman for Cantrell's transition, said that the non-disclosure agreements will be structured differently depending on the position. The members of the transition advisory team, a group of 18 people announced early this month, have signed non-disclosure agreements "in perpetuity," meaning they can never discuss advice or discussions with the mayor-elect.

This was the "grass-roots" mayoral campaign, right?  I swear I read that a bunch of times during the election.  Maybe I'm wrong. But I thought grass-rootsiness was all about keeping the public informed and participating in the process.  You know who we should ask about this? LaToya Cantrell.
“It’s critical to have a transition office, and I’m happy to announce that our team will be housed in my alma mater, Xavier University,” Cantrell said. “I’ve always embraced keeping the public not only informed, but also participating in the process, so the transition will be transparent with a robust website, frequent updates from social media and traditional media, and public meetings. As I often spoke about during my campaign, professional development and partnerships are part of the foundation for effective governing, and this week I am attending a Harvard conference for newly-elected mayors.”
Also, are "robust website" jokes a little too 2012 by now? Ok, nevermind that. It seems like the public face of the transition is in disagreement with its actual policies.  Good luck getting anybody from the team to explain it publicly, though!  I mean other than Karen Carvin. Apparently she's just there to tell jokes. 
Although non-disclosure agreements are typically in place to make a process more opaque to outsiders, Carvin said Cantrell's staff felt they were part of "an effort to have as much transparency within the process."

"It's not to hide anything; it's to give people the opportunity to talk freely and openly," Carvin said. "The whole idea is to allow people the freedom to be brutally honest about their assessment of various departments and each area they're looking at. They are going to be having people interview people who have contracts with the city, and they want them to feel free to be open and transparent about their view of where things stand."
In order to achieve transparency, we must maintain air tight secrecy. Why?
"There is a lot of information that some people may want to share that's of a confidential or a controversial nature," Carvin added, saying, "I think the public will understand and accept that."
Because if there is one thing the public loves, it's elected representatives who make sure to protect them from having to know about things "of a controversial nature" that relate to the public's business. Things are going brilliantly. 

Interestingly, one way around these non-disclosure agreements might be a subpoena from, say, the Attorney General's office.  But, like we said at the beginning here, that isn't likely to happen.  Besides, it's an imperfect remedy for all sorts of reasons. The public would like to be privy to as much of the public business of setting up a mayoral office as possible, not just whatever bits Jeff Landry is interested in.

At the same time, if you were interested in keeping a lazy non-criminal inquiry like Landry's off of your back, one good way to frustrate the flow of information would be to make everybody sign an NDA. In which case it's possible we have Landry's meddling to thank for inspiring this situation too.

Speaking of "off the shelf" tax subsidies

Three of the four candidates for the District 93 House seat were at an Alliance forum this week. They all sounded skeptical. 
Three candidates for the seat — Kenny Bordes, Royce Duplessis and Danil Faust — fielded questions Wednesday night from the Alliance for Good Government about how they believe the budget crisis should be resolved. (A fourth candidate, Eldon Anderson, did not attend.) All three said that the state needs to re-examine its tax exemptions in an effort to raise more revenue this year, and stave off the proposed cuts.

Duplessis, a private energy attorney and former chair of the City Planning Commission, said he would start by re-examining revenue opportunities by way of tax exemptions, ensuring that the state is getting a proper return on each of those investments.

“Simply saying we’re going to cut is not the answer,” Duplessis said, emphasizing that not even the governor wants to pass the budget he himself proposed.

Faust, a French Quarter bartender, said that such tax exemptions cost the state $3 billion in 2005 but have grown to represent $8 billion in lost revenue now, with some going to firms that do not even have employees. Instead of relying so heavily on personal income taxes that hurt workers, the state should derive more of its tax from property and industry, he said.

“You have a lot of companies that can work through these loopholes and get rebates,” Faust said.
Bordes's answer was slightly different in that he brought up a potential call for a constitutional convention to solve the problem. It all depends on the details, yadda yadda, but, we've mentioned before, that has the potential to create more problems than it solves.


I think this phrase is meant to reassure people.  See, the state's 6 billion dollar offer to Amazon isn't all that alarming. These are just the "off-the-shelf" bribes we hand out to everybody.
The figure, which Louisiana Economic Development revealed publicly for the first time Tuesday in response to a records request from The Advocate, consisted almost entirely of off-the-shelf benefits the state regularly offers to qualifying businesses, though not typically of that magnitude.

In its proposal, dubbed "Project Pearl" by LED officials, the state pitched Amazon on five locations — three in New Orleans and two in the New Orleans area, although officials were willing to look farther afield.
Of course a lot of the stuff we keep on that shelf is pretty bad already. We saw some of it in the highly questionable deal that is expected to bring DXC to New Orleans.  It also comes at a time when the Governor and Legislature are preparing to sort out just how badly they're going to ask the state's poor to sacrifice in terms of schools, hospitals, and sales taxes so that they can continue subsidizing the profits of some of the world's largest corporations. 

What's worse, though, is that the "Project Pearl" formed for this pitch now becomes the template for the next package offered up in the next such sweepstakes.  New Orleans didn't "win" this round, which kind of feels like dodging a bullet, all things considered.
Amazon has turned Seattle, its current headquarters, into a 21st-century exemplar of income inequality. Living in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city is a beautiful thing for a worker with the skill set to slip effortlessly into a high-tech job. For everyone else, Seattle now features all the disturbing traits of any place that rewards knowledge workers at the top of the food chain and flushes away just about everyone else: from astronomical housing costs that have long since displaced middle- and lower- income people to punishing commutes for everyone who has to move in and out of the city.

Amazon’s arrival is bound to accelerate the displacement of people of more modest means and send the cost of living in the “lucky” victor soaring. The New York and Washington metro areas, already two of most expensive places to live in the United States, would become even more unaffordable for the average worker. (There are actually 15 “cities,” not 20, competing. New York and Newark constitute one mega-city; while Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Maryland, and Northern Virginia are effectively another single metropolitan area—whether local leaders like it or not.)
But clearly this is all well within the deliberate scope of the policy goal.  State and local political leaders are set on exacerbating the already gross inequalities at work in New Orleans. It's hard to remember a time when this was not the case. It certainly has been the thrust of the post-Katrina era. And the "shelf" full of instruments for funding these schemes off the backs of the poorest people is getting more and more sophisticated.

Travel ban proposal

Since Campbell Robertson is gone now, there's really no need to send any more NYT reporters to New Orleans.  Nothing good comes of it.

Wonder what Georges wants with the building

The owners of the Swiss Confectionery sold him their building on St. Charles
What made Culotta decide to leave St. Charles Avenue?

"We own that building and somebody made us an offer," he said.

According to public records, a company owned by businessman John Georges bought the St. Charles Avenue property for $1.3 million in June 2017.
Georges owns a lot of things so it's one more to throw on the pile. This is a block down from his shiny new Advocate headquarters. Gonna make his own little corridor.

Update: According to Georges's paper, it's a potential Galatoire's expansion. (One of two!)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Too bad FNBC went under. Seems like they would have been exactly the people to handle the trade in these "pollution credits."
Matt Rota, policy director with the Gulf Restoration Network, raised questions about whether DEQ should play a role in regulating the financial transactions on which the trading program would be based.

"And there's the big question of why," Rota said. "Why has this come up? What are the specific pollution issues that caused us to look at this?"
Because it's a fantastic businees opportunity, probably.  Not only does it allow polluters to buy their way out of their responsibility to, you know, stop dumping poison into the water, but it also sets up a nifty secondary market for the credits.  This moring I sort of asked what we might call the new currency "mined" from Louisiana pollution and got what I thought was a clever answer.

Whoever handles these financial instruments stands to make some money.
Sarah Mack, president of Tierra Resources, which is already creating wetlands to earn credits for sequestering carbon, with the credits bought and sold on a private market, said the department also needs to carefully review the infrastructure that will be required to run that market.

In her case, the project is co-sponsored by the Entergy Corporation, Comite Resources, and The Climate Trust, which are combining to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming. The companies participate in one of several national and worldwide voluntary carbon credit trading banks.
Ha ha, yeah, that works very well.  But, hey, how much more exciting would it be if the State of Louisiana were the regulatory authority?  The great thing about Louisiana is we see an ongoing disaster like the criminal despoiling of our environment and immediately start looking for ways to parlay that into financial fraud. 

I'd like to keep following this story as it develops, but really, we should just skip to the end where everybody goes to jail.

What did John Bel know and when did he know it?

I guess Bayou Bridge is moving into the "ask for forgiveness instead of permission" phase of the operation.  
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline has begun construction in Louisiana, the company building it announced Wednesday.

The Atchafalaya Levee Board gave its approval last week, and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has issued a letter of no objection, though environmental groups are trying to hold up construction in court.

"We are excited to be able to conclude the more than 2 year permitting and have begun construction activities," Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Alexis Daniel wrote in a Wednesday morning email to The Advocate. The company is the majority shareholder of Bayou Bridge LLC.
Technically speaking, they do have permission. At least they have permits from the state Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers to go to work. However there are still court challenges to those permits pending.  Here is a closer look at those. I'm especially interested in a suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade which seeks release of the Governor's communications.
And on January 16, the center filed suit on behalf of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350.org New Orleans, and the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, asking for Bayou Bridge LLC to turn over records relating to the company’s use of eminent domain, and for the governor’s office to release its communications with private entities involved with the project.

“Instead of calling for an Environmental Impact Statement throughout the months-long controversy about the pipeline, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has repeated the company’s talking points,” Ann Rolfes, founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, pointed out. She expressed her disappointment in a politician who claimed to champion the environment in an editorial published by NOLA.com.

After 68 days of waiting [for the public records], the governor’s office sent me a laughable total of seven pages of irrelevant correspondence,” Rolfes said, prompting her organization to sue in order to compel a release of these records.

Louisiana’s governor hasn’t been shy about his support for the pipeline. Despite the controversies around the project, he told the Baton Rouge Advocate that “another pipeline traversing the Atchafalaya Basin wasn’t going to keep him up at night.

We know John Bel loves oil companies and all. But wouldn't it be fun to read him telling them just how much in his own words?

Judge Vitter

I don't put too much stock in this but, for what it's worth, there is chatter among the law talking people that Wendy isn't actually all that bad compared to David.  Guess we'll find out soon enough.
President Donald Trump has nominated the wife of former U.S. Sen. David Vitter to serve as a federal judge in New Orleans.

The White House on Tuesday announced Wendy Vitter’s nomination for a seat on the bench in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Trump also nominated Robert Summerhays to serve as a federal judge in the Western District of Louisiana.

Louisiana’s Republican senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, praised the nominations. Federal district judges must be confirmed by the Senate.

Wendy Vitter is general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and previously worked as a prosecutor for the district attorney’s office in New Orleans.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The things John Bel caves on

Work requirements for Medicaid.
He also suggested some items that Edwards said he expected Republicans would put forth, including a transparency website to track spending, implementing work requirements and/or copays for able-bodied adults on Medicaid and implementing new spending caps. Edwards has said he doesn't oppose those measures, but they could cost the state initially on the front-end, rather than saving money immediately.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"John Bel Edwards is taking your shit"

I wonder if he realizes the impact of the headlines being written now.

This is year three of a legislative strategy based on giving Republicans everything they want and hoping they will be ashamed of that.  They won't be.  Especially when it will be so easy to blame the Governor if anyone objects.

The morality police and their scribes

It's good that we all got out this weekend and marched against fascism again.   From the looks of things, though, we're gonna need to keep at it.  Our local officials don't seem to have gotten the message.
A waitress at Rick's who asked to remain anonymous said in a statement provided by Rutherford that during the raid, officers potentially put employees at risk by reading out their full names in front of customers as the workers provided their identification.

Also, the group of officers involved in the operation included only one woman, meaning male officers stood guard in the dressing room as the women changed, despite loud protests from the women, the waitress said.

Drug-sniffing dogs were brought along during the operation, and officers made several derogatory references suggesting all the dancers were drug users, the waitress said. She said two women were arrested at the club, one for having an outstanding warrant and another on an allegation of disturbing the peace.

The investigation is the largest of its type in New Orleans since Operation: Trick or Treat, which shut down a half-dozen clubs accused of allowing drug sales and prostitution in 2015. Some of those clubs reopened after signing agreements with the ATC requiring them to install surveillance cameras, hire outside security firms and make other changes.
This round of raids is one of a series of items enumerated in the mayor's French Quarter "security" plan. Some of these include the bollards recently installed on Bourbon Street, a recent feint at closing down the bars at 3 AM, and, of course, the "surveillance ordinance" currently under consideration by City Council.   Reading through the security plan one quickly comes to see it as more of a tourism marketing document about amenities and "branding" strategies. The crack down on the strip clubs emanates from language like this.
The City Planning Commission will undertake a study of how to improve the character and use of the buildings in the French Quarter to limit illegal uses and activities. 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 also emanates from a dubious media campaign orchestrated last year by the Times-Picayune with heavy push from the fanatics who run the New Orleans Covenant House.
(Covenant House Director Jim) Kelly’s targeting of the strip clubs is just part of the national Covenant House’s longstanding fight against sex work, from internet advertisements today to street prostitution in the 1970s. Covenant House founder Father Bruce Ritter saw his work as getting youth off the streets and out of the sex trade, at first by getting them into his apartment. Ritter was later forced out of the organization when several men he had taken off the streets said he had paid them for sex, reports which an internal review confirmed had long been known to the organization. Kelly himself has been with Covenant House since the 1980s, and founded the New Orleans branch of the agency. As the issue of sex trafficking has gained in national prominence (in part due to the national Covenant House’s campaigning), Kelly and Covenant House New Orleans have re-positioned themselves as trafficking experts. Covenant House New Orleans touts its role in serving people they say have been trafficked or forced into the sex trade, and who are “turning [their] life around.”
Kelly's agitation and propaganda campaign is funded by a $900,000 Department of Justice grant and he works in "partnership" various local and federal law enforcement arms. So that's a lot of official money and police power behind an agit-prop campaign directed by a religious crusader with the help of... one of the many many Landrieus afoot.
“We ended up looking at whether we could do something we thought was really simple,” Landrieu told In Justice Today. “Raise the age of those who can dance in strip clubs to 21.” Landrieu, dean of the Loyola University law school and sister of former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, said working with Covenant House was her introduction to the issue of trafficking. “These women don’t even initially recognize sometimes what they were involved in,” Landrieu said. She admitted that “every woman who goes and works in a strip club is not trafficked,” but claimed that the clubs are “a gateway or a pathway [to trafficking] for women.”
That's Madeleine Landrieu, by the way. The article doesn't include her first name which is an unfortunate mistake given the way that clan proliferates.  It also refers to "former New Orleans mayor" Mitch which is only sort of true at the moment. RIP copy editors. But in a media landscape where the T-P is running full features and a month of editorials in support of these kooks then why even bother to sweat the small stuff anymore?

Budget Day

The traditional kickoff to Carnival may come on January 6, but lately it feels like the season doesn't really get into swing until the Governor releases his annual Doomsday Budget proposal.
"There's not a single cut that we will propose that we want to implement," Edwards, a Democrat, told The Advocate editorial board on Friday. "We don't want those cuts made."

Near elimination of the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students college scholarships, defunding safety net hospitals and layoffs are among some of the most drastic measures that Edwards will reveal.

"It's stark," he said.

Edwards said he hopes that it emphasizes the urgency of addressing the "fiscal cliff" the state faces when temporary tax measures, including a sales tax hike, expire July 1.
The Legislature has had several opportunities to avoid this situation in recent years but a conservative caucus has refused to take on the fiscal reforms necessary to put the state on a more sound footing. Thanks to this fiscal cliff situation, they've helped conjure through their own stubbornness, Republicans now have a choice of either dramatically reversing course now or running in next year's elections against "The Governor Who Killed TOPS" as they will undoubtedly frame it.

It's the same set of incentives that has worked against the Governor in every session since he's been in office so it's difficult to imagine how it will go any different this time.  Once again his only recourse is to make threaten to make the Legislature work during Mardi Gras, which he will probably have to do this year anyway.
Edwards wants to call a special session in February, before the regular session begins March 12, to address the budget. Lawmakers cannot take up most revenue measures in even-numbered years.

"I'm not going to have a special session for the sake of having one," he said.
 Hope everyone is ready to party. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Are we better off than we were one year ago?

Big crowd

I have an uncomfortable relationship with protest marches. On the one hand, I believe democracy does better when people make themselves seen and heard. By meeting in the streets at big events, the  immiserated can show each other they are not isolated. They demonstrate their commitment by going outside together to disrupt daily routines. They confirm to themselves and to others that they and their urgent concerns matter. They can be a critical first step toward meaningful political action.

On the other hand, I don't think people are nearly as modest as they ought to be in general.  There's a kind of performative self-righteousness at work at these events, righteous as the cause itself may be. There's a line somewhere between necessary expression of grievance against power and look at us and how good.. how much better than so and so.. we are.  And it's not an easy line to keep track of.  Shit is fucked up. People ought to go out in the street and agitate against that. But they should also take care to do so as anonymously as is practical.  It's a tricky thing to reconcile. The fact that millions of people turned out is essential.  The fact that you, specifically, were there is actually kind of annoying.

So whenever I go out to see one of these, I'm both encouraged and appalled at the same time.  I try to get a sense of how many and what sorts of people are there. I want to hear what the speakers have to say. But as I'm counting heads, I can't help but wonder at each.  There's a difference between wanting to see people take action and the brazen self aggrandizement of those who have said, I will be a person who acts. Who do people think they are? Maybe it would be better if there were a way for people to attend these things anonymously. Ideally we could show up and be counted but somehow also be invisible.

I tried to skulk about last year's "J20NOLA" event  as invisibly as possible. A lot of people were there.

Duncan Plaza crowd

Probably something like 1000 to 1500 in Duncan Plaza.  Small beans compared to the next day's Women's March turnout but fantastic for a weekday afternoon, especially on a day with so much... um.. stuff going on.

The march represented a broad coalition of social justice organizations around New Orleans. Representatives of each spoke for a few minutes during the rally. 
More than 1,000 people marched from City Hall after a rally that galvanized more than 100 Louisiana grassroots organizations, including BreakOUT!, Stand With Dignity, Congress of Day Laborers, the NAACP, hospitality workers, faith leaders, environmental justice groups and several locally based civil rights groups. The event — coordinated with Take 'Em Down NOLA and New Orleans Workers Group — follows the groups' growing presence in citywide activism, from calls to remove Confederate monuments and "all symbols of white supremacy" to support for affordable housing, criminal justice reform, workers' rights and health care, and explicit warnings against fascism, demagoguery and racism throughout the 2016 election.
I remember thinking at the time that maintaining the momentum of that weekend would be a test for all of these groups. And it has been. But many of the people at last year's marches went on to win some victories in 2017.  Or, at least, they have spent the year fighting some good fights.

The hospitality workers have continued to organize winning the right to negotiate a union contract with the Hilton. Take 'Em Down celebrated a hard fought win in the campaign to take down four Confederate monuments. Congresso has acted to defend local residents threatened with deportation . And they along with other groups present on J20 have been working along with MaCCNO to push back against Mitch Landrieu's ABO surveillance scheme.  New Orleans has a local DSA chapter now. They managed to get Bill Cassidy's attention during the fight over Obamacare repeal.  Their members also repaired lots of brake lights and are getting involved in the fight for affordable housing among other things.

It would have been nice to see some of this capacity mature to a point where it could have been a factor in the recent municipal elections. The timing just wasn't right for that, though. Because of this, the incoming mayor and council are products of the same old out of touch political establishment that existed before the crisis time began. That's a shame. 

But doing the politics is about more than getting all worked up to vote against some terrible candidates every so often.  There will be time for that again eventually.  In the meantime, though, there will be plenty of other stuff to worry about as the past year has well demonstrated.  Some of that might even involve getting out and marching in the street again.  But that hardly seems appropriate during Mardi Gras so maybe we should hold off for a while.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Whose bar is balanced?

Last week, the Winter Council deferred hearings on a controversial ordinance modifying the rules around obtaining and maintaining ABO permits.  The law had became known colloquially as a "surveillance ordinance" because of one especially scary provision which would require businesses to install NOPD monitored security cameras. It is primarily the controversy over this matter which has brought about the deferral.

But there's a lot more than just the cameras involved. Even without the surveillance measure, the ordinance furthers the move to shut down certain kinds of neighborhood corner bars, groceries, and music venues which has gathered momentum in the post-Katrina years.  The Louisiana Restaurant Association identifies some of these concerns in a recent T-P article.

So, as we already mentioned, we're starting to suspect the surveillance provision may have been thrown in as a distraction, or at least as a bargaining chip with which to buy off further opposition.  Eventually they're going to pass something.  Having the fight over the cameras now only serves to make whatever they do pass look like reasonable compromise. Or to put that in LaToya Cantrell's verbiage, they will say they "listened to the community" and figured out how to "find balance."  Balance being a still very shitty crackdown on ABO permits.

Cantrell, who was previously quoted by WWLTV beaming over the NOPD facility meant for monitoring the proposed cameras, has been less vocally supportive as of late. Her most recent comment, issued through a spokesperson, defers the matter entirely.
David Winkler-Schmit, a spokesman for Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, the mayor-elect, offered no objections to putting off the surveillance and strip club proposals. He said Cantrell deferred to Landrieu on his surveillance plan and to Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey on the strip club issue because Bourbon Street is in her district.
Way to show some leadership on a controversial issue, Madam Mayor.

Eventually she'll have to take some sort of position. When that happens, it's not difficult to imagine her falling back on her familiar appeal to "balance" we've been listening to her make for years now. If the new ordinance passes, who determines which bars need to be shut down in order to find the balance?  Well, that will be LaToya, of course.
The ordinance contains an emergency suspension provision, allowing the mayor, the police chief or the ABO Board chairman the ability to suspend a permit. That suspension would occur if any of those three people believe the operation "endangers the health, safety and welfare of the community."
And how will Mayor LaToya unilaterally determine which businesses "endanger the health, safety and welfare of the community?" I'm willing to bet it won't be any of the businesses currently paying rent to her contributors.

Le Bon Temps for LaToya

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Critically unsafe

That's bad, right? It sounds bad.
With an inmate death rate four times the national average, the New Orleans jail is “critically unsafe” and staffing is “critically inadequate," according to a withering report released Thursday by federal monitors.

The report finds that conditions have actually improved “marginally” since the last report from the court-appointed watchdogs 10 months ago. Yet page after page of the lengthy report details how monitors found entire units left unguarded on unannounced visits and discovered during reviews of medical logs that hundreds of alarming incidents had gone unreported.

Inmates on mental health watch manage to ingest pills or attempt suicide by hanging, and fights often erupt as guards leave their posts for lunch, the report found. Meanwhile, 44 percent of jail employees were fired or quit their jobs in 2017.

The jail administration led by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman and compliance director Gary Maynard is living in a state of denial or ignorance, the report finds.
Yeah that's bad. What's remarkable about the state of the jail four years into a federally directed reform program and a over a year into the Maynard experiment is that some basic sounding things aren't getting done. For example, this sounds like someone just needs to make a spreadsheet at least. 
The Sheriff’s Office files reports on suicides, riots and fights, yet it has failed to analyze them in a systemic way that might prevent future incidents. The jail has not conducted an annual review of jail guards’ use of force that is required by the consent judgment.

Although recent Sheriff’s Office reports have minimized the number of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff attacks, the report says that such incidents remain rampant, occurring at a rate that indicates “an unacceptable and dangerous environment” in the jail.
The monitor's report also lists unreported or mishandled incidents of violence or contraband, inadequate mental health services, as well as insufficient and inadequate staffing in general. You can see where this is going.  
Even after an inmate’s hanging death in May, and the high-profile hanging death of a 15-year-old inmate in 2016, the jail’s precautions against self-harm are weak. Guards have not been tested on suicide prevention training, a tool to cut down nooses was missing in five of six control pods, and nurses were not keeping an eye on inmates on suicide watch during a recent tour, the report said.
Of course there are larger underlying systemic problems at work here besides just proper prison administration.   We arrest too many people. We criminalize too many behaviors. We're leaving more and more people behind in general and shoving them into our crappy jail.  But that's all beyond the scope of the federal monitors' purview.  What they are able to tell us, though, is you don't want to go to jail in New Orleans. It's not a pleasant place to be even on the days when there is potable water.

Which city contractors are also human rights abusers?

Some of them were unhappy with this (completely inert, by the way) resolution.
While Williams, Councilwoman and Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell and others issued a statement Friday defending their actions, Williams on Wednesday called for reconsideration of the issue, saying that he was not aware of the boycott movement or its mission when the council voted.

He said it was a mistake for the council to introduce and vote on the unadvertised measure at the end of a nearly six-hour meeting, as doing so did not give people enough time to voice their opinions.

Landrieu, who said he hadn't seen the document before the council's vote, quickly denounced it last week, saying it was "ill-advised, gratuitous and does not reflect the policy of the city of New Orleans."

For starters, I really hate it when they lie like this.  Jason Williams clearly knows what the BDS movement is. When he finds it convenient to pretend not to, he's just insulting a voting public he presumes to be stupid.

Here is a link that should pull up video of the discussion. Williams gives a long talk where he reads the resolution out loud and goes on to compare it with similar divestment campaigns such as the movement against South African Apartheid. After that there were three public comments on behalf of the resolution all of which specifically referenced Palestinian rights.  Councilmembers knew what they were voting on.  Or, at least Jason did.

The only reason he or any of them would want to walk this back now is because one or more contractors who do business with the city expressed concern about the implications of having their investments scrutinized for human rights violations. It's worth asking who those people might be.

Maybe Veolia had something to say about its experience here

The boil orders are not the reason Amazon isn't coming

People are gonna have jokes at the ready, I guess. But, no, that's not the reason. The reason is they found more willing marks elsewhere with bigger ransoms to pay.
Some state and local governments have made public the details of the financial incentives they are dangling. Boston's offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others. Before he left office Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Christie approved a measure backed by Democrats to allow New Jersey to offer up to $5 billion to Amazon. Newark also proposes to give Amazon $2 billion in tax breaks, although the city has yet to release its application to the AP.

But many of the state and local governments competing for the headquarters have refused to disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they offered. Of the 20 finalists, 13 including New York, Chicago, and Miami declined requests from the AP to release their applications while other requests were still pending. Applications from Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles and Raleigh, North Carolina, were submitted by outside groups not typically bound by the same disclosure rules.
It has been reported that Chicago is actually offering to give all the tax money collected from Amazon employees back to the company. In other words, Amazon will tax its own workers' paychecks. Fresno's proposal takes that a step further and actually incorporates Amazon executives into city government.
Submitted by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, the proposal would place 85 percent of every tax dollar generated by Amazon into a so-called "Amazon Community Fund," which would be administered by a city committee along with Amazon executives. In essence, Amazon would be able to dictate were all that tax money goes, whether it be worker housing, public transportation to get Amazon employees to work, or parks and bike paths for the exercise and leisure of Amazon workers.

“Rather than the money disappearing into a civic black hole, Amazon would have a say on where it will go,” Fresno's economic development director Larry Westerlund told the LA Times. “Not for the fire department on the fringe of town, but to enhance their own investment in Fresno.” This isn't good for those who live on the fringes of town, but not to worry: The agreement would only last for the next 100 years.

So, no, the fact that New Orleans didn't make the cut doesn't have anything to do with Sewerage and Water Board.  That is, unless Amazon were getting into the water privatization business which we're pretty sure they aren't... yet. 

That Bobby Jindal legacy

Just a note to tuck away for when Fiscal Cliff Season gets into full swing.
Louisiana colleges were hammered by cuts over the last decade. The state spends $700 million less annually on its public colleges than it did in 2008.
The Governor's budget proposal comes out tomorrow.  The Legislature may or may not be going into special session soon. You're going to hear a lot from Republicans about how the problem is "too much spending." What they will mean by that is $700 million out of higher ed wasn't enough for their liking.

The boil order decade

Hey remember back when these were happening infrequently enough that we could still count them? 
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni are updating citizens about public services during the ongoing hard freeze conditions.

Landrieu asked residents to limit their water use and prepare for an "extended and precautionary" boil water advisory. The threat of pipes freezing is expected to diminish significantly once temperatures exceed 32 degrees Thursday afternoon, so anyone running a trickle of water can shut off that faucet.
This is going to be a little bit different from the usual drill. They're going to have to wait until the pressure normalizes before they can start the (usually) 24 hour process of testing and clearing the water.  And they won't get to that point until all the pipes thaw and the leaks can be discovered. One assumes this means the new leaks and not the existing problems causing an estimated 40 percent loss of water flow on a daily basis.  The sudden burst of newly spurting water this afternoon will be known as the Tricentennial Fountain. Bring your camera so you can preserve the memory of this symbol of our resilience.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

John says things

Yeah he made a funny again
The spectacle was too much for Kennedy, a freshman who already has made a name for himself on Capitol Hill by frequently opining on events of the day with folksy and witty one-liners. In his Wednesday comments, he compared the Senate’s recent nastiness to the notoriously sensational daytime television program “The Jerry Springer Show,” and facetiously posited that it was impairing intergalactic relations.

“That’s why the aliens won’t talk to us,” Kennedy told reporters. “They look at all of this stuff, and they go, ‘These people ― they’re 13-year olds"

He continued: “I’m talking about private meetings, so-and-so said this, and no, he didn’t say that, and you’re a liar. The whole junior high cafeteria syndrome.”

He added: “You know ― here’s a newsflash to you: Sometimes, people swear, okay?”
Didn't really need any input from the shithole planets anyway, right?

Leaving that aside, it's interesting that Kennedy gets credit in this story for is down-to-earth folksy exasperation with nasty Washington even as he appears to be defending the President's nasty remarks. "Sometimes people swear," he says.  Which is fine. Swearing really isn't even the issue with the brutal, stupid, and racist immigration policy Trump had employed the swear to articulate. Anyway, Kennedy's problem is with critics of Trump's rhetorci who may or may not agree with the policy.  Either way, John isn't staking out a superior position. He gets credit for the superior pose, regardless.

The other subtext here, and this comes up with a lot of Kennedy one-liner stories, is John's performative disappointment with Washington culture. It sure doesn't do anything to squelch persistent speculation that Kennedy is going to run for Governor next year.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., is also using Scott's visit as an opportunity to criticize Edwards. Kennedy, who is considering running against Edwards for governor, sent the following message out on Twitter:

"Gov. Edward's tax increases are driving companies and industries out of Louisiana so much so that other governors are taking notice. Louisiana needs a competitive business environment so we can grow more jobs and the economy."
In other words, don't expect the Homesick Folksy John act to go away any time soon.

The boil order decade

This one appears to be freeze-related so maybe we shouldn't sigh so loudly.  Unless it's something freeze-related but preventable for reasons we don't know about yet which is always possible given the history here.

Roughing it

Streetcar tracks in the snow

Some sort of weather irregularity had us holed up in the house with... well.. with pretty much all the regular conveniences, actually. Throughout the duration of the emergency, we still had power (unlike many) we still had heat (again,unlike many of those without power or shelter) we still had water, (unlike many others)  What we didn't have for most of the time, though, was internet which sure as hell made it feel like nothing else was working.

In any event it meant we weren't working.  With roads shut down everywhere and "New Orleans cut off from all sides," nobody was going anywhere.  Menckles had planned to work from home but frozen internet tubes took care of that.  Instead we just, you know, went outside.. for very brief bits at a time.. and goofed around.

Snow heart

White Christmas

Winter weather and whether or not it is bad turned out to be one of Alli's topics on the latest (appropriately named as ever) Hunkerdowncast which finally got uploaded once the internet pipes thawed a bit.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Steve Gleason is number one

I want to tell some jokes about yesterday too.  I know we were all trying to cheer each other up last night when the thing happened.  That was a great game. The Saints did everything you could have asked to see. They basically had the thing won. Until they didn't. Football is weird that way.  For all its supposed precision, its baroque strategy, its faux military style of preparation, for all the physical effort of its execution, its results are often the product of random accidents.

Personally, I think that is the source of its (and most sports') appeal. As fans or participants, we immerse ourselves in the complex mechanics of the event. But it's the prospect of seeing those mechanics overturned by fate that really draws us in. There is where we find the passion, the humanity, and above all, the humor that we're really buying in for. There is a kind of hope in the sudden overturn of expectations. Even when these reversals go against "our side" on some level, we all know they are what we came to see.

We tried to tell each other that last night at our viewing parties and on the Twitternets and such.  We did okay.  Today is a little more sad. But only because we're more sober now and working our way through the aftermath. This afternoon, we drove by a season-ending merchandise clearance and got a little misty eyed.

Blowout sale

I didn't see any Marcus Williams jerseys out there.  But I'm willing to bet you'll see a few more of those start to pop up around town in the coming months. I think if I order mine now, I should have it in time for Mardi Gras.