Thursday, November 29, 2018

In other words, you don't want any books

When they send you off to prison, (not if because, really, they're coming for all of us eventually) don't expect that means you'll finally get caught up on all your reading.
The published works banned from state prisons range from the sexually explicit to the seemingly innocuous. “Books that could be seen as divisive or provocative, those are the kinds of things we don’t want in our institutions,” spokesman Ken Pastorick said.
If a book isn't divisive or provocative, what is the point? These people are just saying they don't want any books at all. Besides, anything "can be seen" as divisive or provocative. You'd think we'd be well aware of that. It says in this article that DOC has 27 full time employees working to censor reading material.

Do they know they could probably just outsource that to Google?

Yes, but do the elevators work?

If so, I hope they don't run on diesel fuel.
In early August, hundreds of gallons of diesel leaked from storage tanks located at the abandoned Naval base in the Bywater neighborhood into nearby waterways, documents from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality show. The fuel spilled from an above ground container onto the soil below, seeped into the drainage system and traveled approximately two miles to the Florida Avenue Canal. After discharging into the canal, the diesel flowed another half mile into the reservoir of a Sewerage and Water Board drainage pump station.
I don't mean to hit you with too many spoilers from this story. But the tl;dr is this. When the Naval base closed, the city took over the property with a plan to redevelop it. Then Cedric Grant diverted all of the FEMA money for that into Sewerage and Water Board. The WWLTV story linked in the article says it went to drainage projects that haven't moved past the design phase. Maybe Cedric just bought a couch with it. Anyway, the diversion of the funds left the city and the developer in limbo over who was responsible for security and hazard mitigation. And so nobody did any of that. And now we have diesel fuel leaking into the surrounding waterways.

But despite all of this, some version of the original deal may still be on.  At least that's what the city seems to want.  The developer, who happens to be Joe Jaeger, by the way, is a bit more hesitant.  I will highlight the reason why for you in this quote.
Cantrell’s office is currently working to broker a new agreement with EMDRC, Dyer said. The city will not dedicate funds to the project, he explained, because the developer will be fully responsible for financing construction costs according to the revised contract, which the city plans to execute by the end of the year.  “When we came into office the project was behind about two years. But as of December 31, it will be completely caught up,” he said.

Without going into specifics, Dyer said redevelopment plans have been adjusted to account for current realities. “We now have more information on the condition of the buildings and what can be done, allowing the developer and the city to negotiate a more precise lease.”

Last month, Jaeger told The Lens he was unsure if he will move forward with the deal. “I just work on the construction side of things, and I’m getting to the end of my rope waiting for the city to do its part,” he said.
There is still one way the city could agree to put some money into it, though.  It's a long shot but it appears, at least from this report in September, to have been on the table recently.
Interest in the potential for moving City Hall was kicked off Tuesday morning when Cantrell, answering a question about the future of Municipal Auditorium in Armstrong Park during a breakfast appearance before the Bureau of Governmental Research, suggested the currently vacant building would make for a good site for a new City Hall.

But Montaño said a few hours later that no decisions have been made and the auditorium is just one of several options being considered.

At this point, he said, all city-owned buildings are on the table, including some that would be logistically difficult or are already spoken for.

A brief list of potential sites Montaño went through included Municipal Auditorium but also the former Veterans Affairs building where officials cut the ribbon Tuesday on a "low-barrier" homeless shelter and the former Naval Support Activity property, a long-abandoned site at the edge of the Industrial Canal.
I thought it was odd to see the Naval base mentioned as a City Hall site. It still seems like an extremely remote possibility. But at least now we can see why the thought even came up.  They're just trying to match problem properties with rationales for putting money into them.

John Kennedy is okay with tear gassing babies

John is supposed to tell us if he's running for Governor this week.


Kennedy is gonna say something on Monday.


Well in light of everything else that's happened, this is kind of a surprise. At least to me now.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham is leaning toward entering the race to challenge Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2019, his spokesman Cole Avery confirmed Thursday (Nov. 29).

Abraham, a Republican from Richland Parish, said as much in an interview with Greg Hilburn with the USA Today Network.

“If I had to make a decision today it would be that I was running,” Abraham told Hilburn.
That, "if I had to decide today.." bit is kind of a hedge but I thought they were clearing the field for John.

Also.. from the USA Today article: 
"I think we all thought John would have given us an answer by now, but he has to make his own decision," Abraham said. "His decision won't have any impact on mine."

Abraham has given himself a Jan. 1 deadline to announce his decision. "I haven't fully made that decision," he said.
So John will say something on Monday and Ralph will throw a party on New Year's Day in case you needed to synchronize your calendars. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

John Kennedy may or may not have a list of foriegn communist spies

I don't know how much of this nonsense to even take seriously anymore. Am I just getting old or are we all getting old?

It turns out the price of oil is fluctuating

It's apparently never done that before, says Cameron Henry.

In an interview, Henry said he and Barras were on the same page about the revenue projections, and the House speaker would have objected the same way he did on Tuesday. Barras could not be reached for comment.

“He would have done absolutely nothing different than I did,” Henry said in an interview.
Henry said concerns the state economists brought up about the price of oil dropping, possibly larger state tax refunds going out to residents and uncertainty around corporate tax collection projections made him think the new revenue projection was shaky.

The economists, one of whom has been doing state revenue projections for decades, routinely point out portions of their forecasts they believe to be less certain. Legislative economist Greg Albrecht, specifically, mentions the unpredictable nature of corporate tax collections at almost every Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, but they usually do not delay the adoption of a new forecast.
Oh well, guess the teachers have to wait to get that raise. Probably until we're all sure the price of oil will always go up.  Or maybe just until they're all forced to walk out in the middle of an election year. That'll be fun for everybody. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Puerto Rico is a state now?

Seems to be what this says.

The report, which cites a report from Metro in Puerto Rico, says Paul Pastorek, a New Orleans native, agreed to a contract with Puerto Rico’s Department of Education to help with various tasks, including assisting the island’s school system in getting hurricane recovery funds to implement a plan under the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act. The contract reportedly runs until June 2019 and is worth up to $155,000, at $250 an hour, Education Week reports.
Can't be right.

Oh also this says that the man who paved the way for the mass firing of New Orleans teachers and the privatization of public education after Katrina is all set to bestow the same blessings on another storm-ravaged population.  What an odd specialty to have developed.

Okay whose idea is this?

Somebody is talking to Cyndi Nguyen about doing something with Six Flags.  She didn't just suddenly get up one day and think, "Hey and indoor water park sounds neato," to herself.

Still, her own ideas for some of the district's most notorious boondoggles and persistent areas of blight can seem a touch outlandish.

Nguyen wants to turn the old Six Flags site, which has been abandoned since just before Katrina, into an indoor water park. The closest outdoor water parks are in Baton Rouge and Gulfport, Mississippi. An indoor park, she said, could be a moneymaker year-round.
Again, no, that's not "her own idea." Somebody brought that to her. The article says she is working with the mayor to "tap a consultant" for advice on Six Flags (which, I mean, good lord, right?) and she's certainly gotten some input. I think I've seen Tonya Pope's organization tweet at the mayor a few times. (How is that wax museum coming along, by the way?) Toward the end of this article we see one of the several previously rejected bidders for the property, Danny Rodgers, showed up at the IDB meeting where they agreed to let Cantrell take over the process. Rodgers, at the time, was still talking about a water park. Maybe he's talking to Nguyen now. 

I hope someone talks to her about this, though.  The people of this city... and the Lower Ninth Ward, in particular... have had just about enough nonsense about how we're going to solve our problems with branding.
She’s also dropping little hints that District E, which comprises New Orleans East and the Lower 9th Ward, needs a new attitude. She calls her district “The E,” while the Lower 9th Ward has become “The L9,” nicknames she hopes will subtly shift public perceptions.

We're not going to fix this

This is more broken record stuff from me, I guess. But the "solution" to the climate problem people may be holding out hope for is never coming. We here in Louisiana who have had a front row seat to its consequences for decades should understand better than anyone that, even in the face of a so-called "existential threat" there is no backstop. Because every threat is really just another opportunity for those who have the power to exploit it.

This is how an "existential threat" to  communities like Isle de Jean Charles is also a big money making opportunity for, yes, certainly Energy Transfer Partners, but also for the lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians who make their living enabling its avarice.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27th, in St. Martinville, the owners of a 38-acre parcel of land in the Atchafalaya Swamp will face off with Energy Transfer Partners, the builders and operators of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, over these very issues. In next week’s trial, State District Judge Keith Comeaux will attempt to sort out the issues of eminent domain, property ownership, trespassing, destruction of property, and constitutionality of the competing laws and interests.
The company is going to win that.  Not because they have law on their side but because they, with the help of their many friends, run this shit. This is from a Lens op-ed by Anne Rolfes published over the weekend. Rolfes talks about the several lies of the oil and chemical industries in Louisiana and names some of their most prominent enablers.
How many times did those of us who oppose Bayou Bridge have to endure company reps claiming that the pipeline project would be a jobs engine? In January 2017, former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, describing herself as a paid consultant to Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s parent company, invoked the jobs promise at a public hearing before the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Never mind that one of the brochures that Landrieu and Bayou Bridge distributed that night pierced their own veil. The pipeline would generate all of 12 permanent jobs, the brochure revealed. Pipeline opponents spoke out, bringing that low number to the agencies’ attention. The company’s response? They edited the brochure and deleted the jobs numbers.
It's not as if someone like Mary Landrieu can claim ignorance about the stakes here. She's from Louisiana. She's seen the damage done to our coastline, she's certainly read about our cancer rates, she's seen her own hometown catastrophically flooded. But the "existential threat" to the state is not specifically a threat to her compared to the amount of money she can make allowing more vulnerable people to suffer.

Similarly, the Governors Edwards are unconcerned with threats to anything but their own prospects.
St. James Parish would be the proposed pipeline’s end point. The parish is also in the crosshairs of two methanol plants, a chemical plant called Formosa and the just announced Wanhua facility. Signs at construction sites advertise temporary rooms for rent, something that in-town workers would not need.

The Formosa facility — which, like the pipeline, enjoys the support of Governor John Bel Edwards — is a $9.4 billion dollar project, called a chemical complex by project boosters. The company’s permits acknowledge that it would operate 24/7 in its production of throwaway plastics like bags and bottles, with no plan to handle the increased waste or pollution it will cause.

Despite these problems, former Governor Edwin Edwards came out of mothballs to cheer on Formosa at a public hearing. Whether he’s on Formosa’s payroll and, like Mary Landrieu, collecting fees for backing environmentally deleterious projects, is unclear.
It's not necessary for EWE to be "on Formosa's payroll" as Rolfes puts it. He is a licensed broker in industrial real estate in the river parishes and so probably stands to benefit from land use decisions like this one. As for JBE, this doesn't even mention  the bill he signed this year criminalizing free speech against the pipeline.  Here is a blurb about that from Bayou Brief back in September
Energy Transfer Partners also used its “corporate privilege” to help drive a new law through the Louisiana legislature this past spring. They retained the services of some heavy-hitting lobbyists and coalesced the clout of petrochemical industry groups to push passage of HB 727, now known as Act 692.

While other states – including Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Ohio, and Colorado – have considered a similar measure to this ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) model bill, Louisiana was the only one to fully enact it. The bill designates pipelines as “critical infrastructure,” equivalent to public ports and transportation such as railroads, and public utilities like electric power generating stations and water treatment facilities. The “construction” of pipelines is now included in that definition.

And it makes “unauthorized entry,” also known as trespassing and formerly classified as a misdemeanor, onto the property of one of these facilities a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If more than one person is involved in the planning or commission of such an offense, it becomes a “conspiracy,” punishable by up to 12 years and a $250,000 fine.

Even though sections were added to the law declaring it was in no way to apply to “lawful and peaceful assembly or demonstration” or “recreational activities conducted in the open around a pipeline, such as boating” (nor to “prevent the owner of a property form exercising right of ownership, including use”), thirteen people have been arrested and charged with felonies under this law since it went into effect on Aug. 1.
I will admit, though, I did chuckle this morning at the Bayou Brief somehow leaving out any mention of Edwards with regard to this heinous law he signed. The same article also talks about the out of state private security contractors  Hilliard Heintze, and Athos Group, ETP has brought in to harass and surveil its adversaries. But it does not see fit to mention that those companies are only able to operate in Louisiana because Governor Edwards chose to allow it. For all the good reporting that gets done over at Bayou Brief, it's remarkable how consistent they are at covering for certain politicians with whom they are friendly. Mary Landrieu's role in promoting the pipeline is also not mentioned there. In fact, looking through the (again, quite good for the most part) environmental reporting at the Bayou Brief, the reader is extremely hard pressed to find much criticism of Landrieu, or Edwards, or John Breaux, or even Chris John who until this month was the head of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association for a decade. I know these political figures all have something in common.  What is it?

Maybe that's a bit beside the point, but I do think it's a key reason we aren't going to fix the climate problem.  If we are unable to recognize the complicity of those who exercise power, if we are unwilling even to name the culprits even as they profit by our distress, how can we even begin to protect ourselves from them? 

Obviously, we can't and we won't.  We aren't going to fix the climate problem. It's like Bob Marshall says here, the game is up with regard to all of that. 
I’ve been watching the growth of this suicidal approach to the crisis through my Google alert for sea level rise, which daily sends news stories on that topic to my email account. And almost every day there are one or more stories about cities or states in the GOP column seeking grants from the federal government to “adapt” to problems already being caused by climate change, or others they see rushing toward them. They might want levees, floodwalls, elevated roads, rebuilt beaches, or the planning studies for guidance on what to do as the temperature and the water continue to rise.

But even as they now admit global warming is happening, they continue to elect congressional delegations who oppose any regulations that would reduce the emissions that are driving warming. They think it makes sense for a nation that has already lost $350 billion in the last decade to extreme weather events and fires linked to global warming to spend hundreds of millions more to “adapt” to these threats – without doing anything to prevent the disasters from happening again.

In other words, surrender, don’t fight back.
Marshall is trying to make a  rhetorical point about "conservatism" here but this sort of thing is hardly limited to Republicans. Democrats in New Orleans have been selling "resilience" and the various grifts and scams associated with that similarly fatalist philosophy for years now.  Disaster capitalism is bipartisan.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Erase the board"

Like we said last week, it's painfully difficult to figure out, if everyone is this riled up now, just what the heck has taken so long.
But one thing hasn't seemed to change: despite Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.'s repeated messages of unity, the community remains deeply divided about how the city's collection of more than 70 public schools should be run.

Ken Ducote, a consultant who worked for OPSB for 34 years as a teacher, school administrator and planning director, said one phrase community organizers kept repeating Thursday -- "erase the board" -- had been borrowed the from meetings in the 1990s.

And arguments between supporters of the charter movement and those wanting to return to a more traditional public schools system are again being waged.

"That kind of topic is just going to bring out big crowds," Ducote said. "It's an emotional thing."

The immediate topic at hand at Thursday's meeting was Lewis' announcement that he would be closing five schools at the end of the year, igniting protests from parents who argued that such decisions fracture communities, harm student morale and displace worthy teachers.

But even more telling was the underlying message for Lewis, whose district mostly authorizes schools rather than operates them day-to-day: Many parents don't like the new OPSB at all.
The way that's written, you might get the idea that the folks have been vigorously engaged for decades.  But the 2016 school board election was just yesterday. And nobody showed up to run.

All gone

Poof! It's just that easy.
The Coast Guard says it is investigating the cause and impact of a small oil spill in a Louisiana marsh.

A news release Tuesday said a controlled burn Monday got rid of nearly 1,700 gallons of oil that had escaped from a pipeline near Dulac. The line is owned by Texas Petroleum Investment Co.

The Coast Guard says it was notified of the spill Nov. 15, and a cleanup company put a floating barrier around the spill and sorbents onto the oil the same day.

The fire was set to get rid of an estimated 1,680 gallons of crude remaining in the marsh. It burned about three hours.

The Coast Guard says the impact to wildlife and the environment has not yet been determined.
These little oopsies happen all the time. It's only the bigger little oopsies that even make the news. The "impact" is cumulative. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Oh look we have a border clash

I know the old NOLigarchs map is due for some updates.  For a while there I thought I might have to extend Kabacoff's territory to Tulane Avenue. But that's now been occupied by the Israelis so we can forget about that.  Also there are other minor fiefdoms we can add when we get the time. But this is all our cartography budget can handle for now so this is what we have to go with.

We do need to point out also that the regions loosely defined on this map are not very strong on border security.  One Noligarch may in fact hold substantial amounts of valuable territory within the titular boundaries of another's domain. For example, look at all this stuff Joe Jaeger runs even though it isn't in what we've marked on our map as "Jaegerton"

As one might expect, in the world of international capital, borders are not always what they may seem.  Anyway, our map is not very nuanced.  One thing it does get right, however is the overlap and "disputed" designation of areas claimed by Motwani and by Torres.  Tensions there do continue to flare up, it seems.
Developer Sidney Torres IV has become embroiled in a legal battle with French Quarter real estate owners Kishore “Mike” and Aaron Motwani over Torres' purchase of 500 Frenchmen St., a key location in the Marigny’s busy nightclub district. In court filings, Torres claims a tenant of the building, the nightclub Vaso, is being used as a proxy through a lawsuit to win the Motwanis control of the building.
Now that Frenchmen is pretty firmly established as the new Bourbon Street as opposed to the sort of hipster anti-Bourbon Street it had been for a while, all of a sudden there is a land rush. Just a few weeks ago we learned that the Motwanis have taken ownership of the Praline Connection Restaurant which they have moved off of Frenchmen saying "“Locals couldn’t really get down here anymore." They are moving it to... get this... upper Decatur Street in the Quarter because... that would be.. less touristy?  Who knows. It's not clear to me who owns that building now so we need more information. But the Motwanis have a claim on what happens in multiple Frenchmen Street locations right now. That's interesting.

There's a lot of interesting stuff going on in this story, in fact.  To begin with we have what Torres wants us to believe is a threat, although his word is hardly to be taken at face value. Here's what he says happened anyway, which is pretty funny to think about. Note that Motwani doesn't deny he's being quoted pretty accurately whatever he may have meant.
Torres cited a voicemail he said was left on his agent’s phone, as well as a phone call that, according to a court filing by Torres, had Aaron Motwani saying that if Torres didn’t comply with demands, “It will get bloody.” Torres' attorneys, in the court filing, cited what they described as a call log Torres' agent wrote shortly after the call, as well as a recording of the voicemail.

“I want to ask nicely for you to call us back," Motwani says on the voicemail cited in court. "But if you want to handle it the other way, we can handle it the other way, too.”

Aaron Motwani said his voicemail was taken out of context and did not reference a threat of physical harm. He declined to be interviewed but sent a text message in response to questions about the calls.
So keep an eye on this. It could change the face of the map which, as we said, needs some revision anyway. Technically all of this is taking place in "Cummingsville"  according to our drawings.  Let's hope no other belligerents get drawn into the dispute.


Not particularly seaworthy it turns out.
State Rep. Blake Miguez’s family business is in jeopardy after it allegedly defaulted on a multimillion-dollar loan that originated with First NBC Bank, which collapsed last year.

The succeeding note holder, a Denver-based limited liability company, is now moving to seize two offshore supply vessels owned by Iberia Marine Service, which Miguez’s father founded more than four decades ago. The foreclosures could force the company to dissolve, according to court filings.
Miguez is kind of the Bobby Newport of Southwest Louisiana.  Although, if I read this correctly, it looks like his company is technically insulated from the whatever debt the one he inherited/bought or whatever this convoluted arrangement was supposed to be.... whatever that is liable for. 
Miguez served as president of Iberia Marine, and is now the chief executive of SeaTran Marine, a joint-venture that includes Iberia Marine. SeaTran bills itself on its website as the largest company of its kind on the Gulf Coast, with 19 vessels. The website trumpets its leader’s status as a state lawmaker.

Miguez’s father, Steven Miguez, personally guaranteed the First NBC loan, according to a business loan agreement filed in court records. The loan was secured with eight vessels, two of which are subject to federal foreclosure proceedings in Louisiana and California. They include the largest in SeaTran's fleet, the 205-foot Mr. Steven, as well as the 172-foot Lady Eve.

Iberia Marine relies on revenue from Mr. Steven to stay in business, and seizure of the boat “will definitely terminate all agreements and bareboat charters,” Steven Miguez said in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration. That would force the company to dissolve, according to the declaration.

A lawyer for SeaTran, Stewart Peck, emphasized that neither that company nor Blake Miguez are defendants on any of the claims involving the loan. Iberia Marine, however, is a member of the SeaTran corporate entity, according to state records.
Anyway, it's another politically connected rich guy/family to add to the list of politically connected rich people dragged so far in the saga of the sinking of the FNBC money club. 

The hero we deserve

The City of Kenner is saved.
Among the many duties of the mayor in Louisiana’s sixth most populous city are administering a $70.6 million budget, supervising 689 employees and implementing the will of voters. Add to the list creating a municipal mascot.

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn premiered Captain Klean, some guy in a green-and-white dog costume with a superhero mask and a utility belt, at the Kenner Business Association meeting Thursday (Nov. 15) and the City Council meeting Friday.
You know, for once, I am actually grateful for NOLA.com's having half-pivoted to video.  If you didn't quite get the fullness of the loathing behind Drew Broach's  prose there, you absolutely will not miss it in his voice. It is fantastic.

Anyway, what is the dog for? Zahn says it is a "symbol of pride" and.. uh... a weapon in the fight against "blight," apparently.  But, mostly, he is an ad for a garbage hauler.
No public money was used to create the costume, Zahn said. Funding came from Bob Ramelli, whose company is Kenner’s garbage collector and whose name is on Captain Klean’s belt buckle.
Which raises the question, why stop at one? If every city contractor chipped in their own mascot, cities could assemble whole universes of promotional characters to delight children of all ages. Kind of like what McDonald's does. Who wouldn't want to catch up on the adventures of Boh Bunny or the All Star Aardvark or Richard's... trash can.. I guess.   Sidney Torres is kind of his own character already.

Anyway, good luck to Kenner.

Why do we even have a DDD?

It's a little bit different from most of the parcel fees and security districts that fragment our municipal map. But only in that it's even more of a ridiculous slush fund.  What they're arguing about here is Mitch's decision to raid DDD in order to shore up city pension funds a few years back.  That was probably technically illegal... but also without a doubt one of the best things Mitch did while he was in office.

That doesn't make its director happy. But only because it means less money he gets to pass out to friends and patrons to do "economic development."
Weigle shot back that his organization's lawsuit to stop the city from withholding its funds to pay pension costs was necessary.

"Keep in mind, the revenue of the DDD comes from taxpayers downtown," he said. "I think there is a responsibility on behalf of the organization to stand up for its taxpayers and to ensure that DDD funds are spent downtown."

The organization levies a special property tax to pay for enhanced government services, capital projects and economic development efforts in the area bounded by Claiborne Avenue, Iberville, the river and the Pontchartrain Expressway.

Weigle said his organization needs things like an economic development department to help attract retail and other businesses to the Central Business District. And he denied that trash and graffiti abatement is lackluster in areas the DDD maintains.
Notice that line about how the DDD entity is supposed to "stand up for its taxpayers" as if there is some sort of legitimacy imbued by their skimming arrangement. Nobody elected Kurt Weigel to anything. None of these taxpayers belong to him or to DDD which shouldn't even exist in the first place.

Aren't they all fired, though?

Looks like the Harney charter board violated open meetings laws when they moved to fire their principal for questioning the board's (highly questionable, btw) financial practices and for picking a fight with Juan LaFonta or something. But, isn't the whole question moot? I mean if the board itself is already fired, how do they get to fire anybody?
Harney has been under intense scrutiny from the Orleans Parish school district for mounting administrative problems, board composition, finances and other matters.

Days after Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. told parents the school would close at the end of the school year because he would not renew its contract, he said he would revoke the embattled charter school’s contract mid-year. If that happens, the district will run Harney directly until it closes at the end of the year.

Monday, November 19, 2018


That's what they call it when you invest a lot of money in preparing for the most extreme conditions, "hardening" your infrastructure against any reasonable threat, right? It's a very popular concept. We read about it all the time. Not sure where balmy autumn weather falls on the risk scale there.
Aside from Entergy power, the 60-hertz pumps – two of which were operating early Saturday before trouble struck – can run on electricity generated from the utility’s Turbine No. 6, an estimated $31 million piece of equipment built in 2014. Asked why that turbine was not used after the Entergy pole was hit, Korban said it was taken offline about a week ago because it cannot operate in temperatures at 45 degrees or lower.

“It was designed to function during the hurricane season, the warmer season,” Korban said, “and it did not have the safeguards or the specifications to allow it to function all year round.

It's complicated

Q: So what happened this time, S&WB?

A: A lot of things.
City officials gave a recap Monday of the events that forced thousands of New Orleans residents to boil their water before consuming it over the weekend, while they also pledged to work harder to ensure these events become less frequent.

An Entergy pole that delivers power to the Sewerage & Water Board's Carrollton Avenue water plant was compromised early Saturday morning, they said.

But an Entergy feeder at the Panola Station was also out of service, two events that caused a loss of power to a pump at the agency's Panola Station.

The S&WB's new Carrollton Water Tower kicked in shortly afterward and began doing its job to stabilize the resulting drop in city water pressure. But a main breaker that delivers power at the agency's Claiborne Station then tripped, which caused the S&WB to lose two pumps, they said.

Now this is just a theory but it may be about time to light the permanent Christmas tree installed in the West Bank office.  The procedure there is almost as complicated as what is described above so you can see how easily it can go off the rails.

Welcome to Falcons Hate Week

It's a short one this year so jump right in. Varg says this is the most research he's done in one sitting since way back in his newspapering days.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The public is not entitled to comment

Looks like the parents and teachers' advocates in the audience were upset with some of the decisions made at the Orleans Parish School Board meeting this week.
Thursday’s Orleans Parish School Board meeting devolved into shouting at times, as frustrated citizens struggled to conform to the district’s public comment policy following school closure and relocation announcements.

Orleans schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.’s biggest news included five school closure recommendations, a few school relocations and several charter approvals. Lewis’ recommendations — presented as a report — take effect unless the board overrides them with a two-thirds vote. If the board does not formally move for a vote on them, however, they are not considered “action items.” And the public is not entitled to comment on them.

Lona Hankins, a parent and former district employee, implored the board to hold its committee meetings — where board members discuss most of their policy decisions — at times and in places that are accessible to the public. They are often held early on Tuesday afternoons at the district’s Algiers headquarters.

“Parents and the public can’t participate in that,” Hankins said. “You’re leaving parents out. You’re leaving the community out.”
Yeah so we've got this situation where the board doesn't run any of its schools directly (unless something has gone very wrong) and the Superintendent has near unilateral authority to approve charters and relocate schools with almost no public input. It does seem like a bad idea now. Too bad nobody said anything at the time those rules were written... well... almost nobody.

And hey too bad nobody said anything way way waaay back in 2016 when it was time to elect the board that would approve these rules.... well.. almost nobody.  In any case, nobody cared enough to even contest 4 of the seven seats.  At least there were more than a few people, even then, talking about the fact that the incoming board would be all but bought and paid for.
Another explanation for the lack of opponents this time might be that people like Brown's and Usdin's work, Jacobs said.

But Karran Harper Royal, an education activist who ran against Usdin and lost in 2012, said critics of Usdin, at least, might have been scared off by her fundraising muscle. Along with Jacobs, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Netflix founder Reed Hastings and former Time magazine editor and author Walter Isaacson were among a lengthy list of contributors to Usdin’s unprecedented $150,000 campaign haul four years ago. 

Royal raised close to $13,000.

“Those folks who were in power, the charter school movement, they have lined their ducks up in a row,” said Royal, who has been critical of charters. “For the everyday person, that’s an insurmountable hill to climb, particularly because of the amount of money in the race.”
Too bad nobody remembers any of this when the consequences become obvious. Well, almost nobody, anyway.  Otherwise, we might figure out how to keep it from happening again.

The Boil Order Decade

I always enjoy when these happen during football season. It gives us something to talk about with visiting fans from the opposing teams.  Eh... we're used to it, we'll say.  We even stopped counting them some fourteen boil orders ago.  (Hell, S&WB  missed one themselves last month.)

But since each of these is different in its own way, like a snowflake that you have to boil, let's look at the special circumstances that characterize this one. Most significant to note, is this pressure loss event happened despite the availability of a new "water hammer" tower specifically designed to mitigate these circumstances. 
Sewerage & Water Board officials said Wednesday that one of two new water storage towers is now online. The tower has been estimated to give about 20 minutes of relief during a pressure drop and to help reduce the chances for a boil advisory, according to utility officials.

Saturday’s advisory came after a power loss to distribution system pumps 2 and 3 at the the S&WB’s Claiborne Avenue plant at 6:22 am. The new water tower held system pressure for 20 minutes from 6:22 a.m. to 6:42 a.m.

Then, however, pressure dropped below 20 pounds per square inch at east bank sites. Pressure returned to normal at 6:50 a.m.
Oh man, that eight critical minutes, right? And after they just got finished telling us on Wednesday that it was "difficult to imagine" this could happen. 
It’s difficult to imagine we won’t be able to recover before that tower runs out of water, for lack of a better term,” Labat said. “Please understand that it is possible, but I’m comfortable with that (20-minute) time frame.”
Well, maybe next time they'll get it. Matt McBride wrote about the new tower on Facebook this week. Or towers, we should say. They're almost ready with the second one which, should buy us an extra 20 minutes in the future... for twice the price, of course.  McBride also points out this added cost is directly attributable to decades of deferred maintenance to the underground pipe system.
What does this boil down to? Essentially, to get to a 40 minute buffer when pumps go down, the S&WB had to build two towers instead of one, because in those 40 minutes, 20 minutes of flow will just go out to leaks. The S&WB said the project was built for $80 million in federal taxpayer dollars (advertised as $49 million just three years ago). So it's a good bet that somewhere between an extra $20 million to $40 million were invested in this project due strictly to the massive amount of water that never reaches anyone's faucets, but simply goes into the ground or down the drain. Admittedly, the folks working at the Board since the recent inception of this project could not have plugged 77 MGD of leaks in three or four years, since the leaks developed over decades; they were forced into this situation. But when people ask, "Where is all the money going?" look at the second tower at the Carrollton plant - a monument to decades of waste.
Waste, or more to the point, neglect as decision makers find other priorities such as, oh, I don't know, taking a public funding surplus that could be used to invest in critical infrastructure and using it instead  to subsidize wealthy hotel developers.
A plan by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to ask state lawmakers to shift some hotel taxes from tourism to the ailing infrastructure of the Sewerage &Water Board was dealt a major, and likely fatal, blow on Tuesday when Gov. John Bel Edwards came out against the idea.

Edwards panned the nascent proposal, which Cantrell was expected to push in next year’s legislative session, at an event held by the Bureau of Governmental Research, saying he was “not at all interested” in trimming the tax dollars the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and local tourism groups now receive.
In other words, it's more important that we continue to build newer and shinier amusements for visitors like the Eagles fans we'll have a good laugh explaining boil orders to tomorrow, than it is that we build a reliable water system for our residents. At least the tourism marketing board will have plenty money to spend on the next slogan that replaces #FollowYourNOLA or #CityOfYes.  I kind of like the ring of #DifficultToImagine, myself.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Show em what they've won

So who among us could have predicted that the year long Amazon HQ2 grift would have a happy ending?  It sort of does, anyway.  I mean, from the looks of things, Amazon, the global behemoth built on horrific labor exploitation and led by the world's richest man, is still going to get its multi-billion dollar gift from the public coffers of three states.  The happy news, though, is that a growing portion of what we might call the media and political mainstream is beginning to recognize that this is a bad thing.
Was this national auction nothing more than a scripted drama to raise the value of the inevitable winning bid? And did the retailer miss an opportunity to revitalize a midwestern city by choosing to enrich the already-rich East Coast?

All good questions. But here’s the big one: Why the hell are U.S. cities spending tens of billions of dollars to steal jobs from one another in the first place?

Every year, American cities and states spend up to $90 billion in tax breaks and cash grants to urge companies to move among states. That’s more than the federal government spends on housing, education, or infrastructure. And since cities and states can’t print money or run steep deficits, these deals take scarce resources from everything local governments would otherwise pay for, such as schools, roads, police, and prisons.
In New York, where the Governor offered to change his name to "Amazon Cuomo" in what we hope was a joke, the criticism has extended now into the state house and even the US House of Representatives. Those voices remain significantly marginalized, of course. But it's a positive step.  We're still making the super-rich super-richer at the great expense of everybody else. But it's now somewhat accecptable to be critical of that.

Even in Louisiana, you start to see the tide begin to turn a little bit.  It's not happening fast enough, obviously.  Here, for example, is the Governor still happy to hand out public money and favors to hotel developers. Legislators are proud of their restrained compromise decision to only give away $180 million a year to movie productions. All of New Orleans continues unquestioningly to celebrate the Amazon-style package it bestowed on DXC last year in order to help subsidize that company's international cost-cutting and downsizing strategy. And, of course, Louisiana entered its own gift package into the Amazon sweepstakes worth an estimated $6.5 billion.

But even here there are signs of a developing pushback.  For exaple, last year J.P. Morrell, who unfortunately continues to support a lot of these tax incentive deals, at least began to subject them to greater scrutiny.   Also last December, the Advocate ran a major in-depth report by Rebekah Allen on the Industrial Tax Exemption which has been one of Louisina's most costly giveaways and particularly damaging to local municipalities and school districts.  The Governor has granted local taxing authorities more discretion to approve or deny ITEP requests as of late. Some of them have even begun to exercise this discretion. Most notably, the Orleans Parish School Board recently denied such a request from Bollinger.  Baton Rouge teachers actually voted to walk out on Halloween in order to protest an ITEP break  for Exxon.  That issue is currently on hold.

So the good news is there's progress.  We're still losing but people are finding their voices have more reach than they once did.  Speaking of which, here is a video.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This will help John make up his mind

Pretty interesting that Jeff Landry is dropping out of the Governor's race now after spending the past few years obviously laying the groundwork to run. He's also publicly prodded other potential Republican candidates to make up their dang minds so he could run with a clear field. Jeff also ran up a bunch of trial balloon issues to see if anything would get him some traction ahead of time. Maybe he wasn't satisfied with the way any of that played out. For example, Landry was among the very few high profile politicians to publicly oppose Amendment 2 this year.  He can't have been happy with that result.

Anyway, from the looks of things, the door is wide open for John Kennedy now if he wants it. (he does) I keep hearing that even though David Vitter is out of public life he still does his fair share of  mentoring behind the scenes. I wonder if he helped to broker this.

Also this means the Democrats have an opportunity to run a hard charging anti-Landry campaign for Attorney General if they can manage to field a candidate.  Given the way they've more or less conceded the open seat races for Treasurer and Secretary of State recently, it's likely they aren't up for it, though.

If only we were better at means testing

You know what might make a problem like this go away?  See if you can guess.
Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office found problems with the agency's infrequent use of wage data from the state labor department to determine eligibility.

The report says since Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded the state's Medicaid program in July 2016, the department has relied on Medicaid recipients to self-report changes in their paychecks in the 12-month period between the initial application for Medicaid and coverage renewal.

Auditors suggested more frequent checks using available state wage data should be used to ensure Medicaid recipients aren't earning more than allowed to qualify. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states do quarterly reviews to check eligibility against income data, the report says.

The report also found errors in the work done by health department caseworkers. In addition, auditors said the agency didn't double-check income information when federal officials determined people who applied for individual marketplace insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act were instead deemed eligible for the Medicaid expansion program. Those federal officials don't have access to state wage data, the report says.

"Without a sufficient process to determine recipient eligibility, LDH cannot ensure that Medicaid dollars are spent appropriately," Purpera wrote to legislative leaders in the audit.
Imagine if we could just give people health care without a convoluted process for determining whether or not they are eligible. What if... everybody was eligible?  That's crazy talk, though, right?
Universal social programs are based on the principle, as single-payer health care advocate Dr Quentin Young would later put it, of “Everybody in, nobody out.” The goal is to establish a sense of mutual accountability and mutual benefit across society. The method is to enshrine cooperation and solidarity in the institutions by which the state distributes public resources.
Oh hey speaking of crazy talk, Senator Kennedy also has some comments.

John knows that Medicaid operates through private health providers, right? I mean, apart from the contracting and means testing role of the health department, we're very much in the "private sector" already. 

Anyway none of that is his point.  His point is, John is still seriously considering running for Governor next year. We should have his decision in a week or so.

Already busted?

Leaving aside the larger issue of it being well past time to move away from fossil fuels altogether, I wonder what a 2019 election season in Louisiana will look like if the background context is falling oil prices?
The selling leading up to Wednesday was further exacerbated as traders unwound long oil - short natural gas trade, market participants said. As oil crashed from the high touched in October, natural gas futures NGc1 soared as much as 56 percent during that time to a 4-1/2 year high.

Moreover, financial firms hedging the risk incurred by selling put options to oil producers, generating added downward pressure when prices fall toward option strikes, Goldman Sachs said in a note.

Oil markets are being pressured from two sides: a surge in supply from OPEC, Russia, the Unites States and other producers; and increasing concerns about a global economic slowdown.

“This market is attempting to find a price bottom following an unprecedented 12 consecutive days of decline,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.
Also, did you know, the US is the world's leading producer now?  

Gratuitous pictures of gumbo

Remember when we all used to just blog about food and cooking and stuff?  And when we did that, almost everything we made was, like, simple shit that everyone knows how to make anyway. (Like this. This one had food AND football in it. Remember when we used to blog about football all the time?)   It was so quaint.  Who would even want to read that now? 

I mean, sure, the weather is finally getting nice. And we know everybody is making a gumbo. But, geeze, shut up about it already. Nobody has time to deal with an article whose point is just, basically, "let's look at some gumbo now" Right?

Don't get me wrong. We definitely prepared for all of this on Saturday. As we all know, the moment the temperature drops below 60, everyone is required to complete their obligatory gumbo and present it at the Clerk Of Court's office for validation by close of business two weeks hence. We are happy to report that we are in compliance. Would you like to see?

Gumbo pot

This, unfortunately, is more than we can say for the Junior League-ish organization of Andersonville Georgia who compiled this book of "Receipts" we found in a junk shop last week.

Andersonville Skillet

There's a pretty nice smothered okra recipe in there. But I wouldn't pass it off as gumbo.

Georgia gumbo recipe has no roux\

Oh also, while we're on the topic of gratuitous and boring food news, congratulations to Chef James Cullen on taking charge of the kitchen at Upperline where he will not be frying any chicken.
Cullen has been known for his fried chicken, which is modeled on the version of the great chef Austin Leslie. Unfortunately, that won't be added to the Upperline menu, not even as a special. The kitchen, he said, is too small. He has, however, been making the fried chicken to feed his staff before the restaurant opens. So if you want to eat Cullen's fried chicken, you'll have to get a job at Upperline.
Luckily, Chef James, seen here catering an LSU tailgate in 2014, does have other talents.  I remember liking the greens a lot.


Cullen tailgate

The Upperline menu is, I guess, you'd call it "traditional" now although the tradition it pulls from is more along the lines of the mid-90s New Orleans bistro. They do have a gumbo, though. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Busy 12th Night

I don't really know how to feel about this.

Twelfth Night (Jan. 6) will see more parading action this year as the Funky Uptown Krewe gets on a streetcar to ride along St. Charles Avenue after the Phunny Phorty Phellows.

The krewe was founded by a group of friends who gathered at Avenue Pub for the Phunny Phorty Phellows parade. "We thought, 'Why can’t we do this?'” krewe spokesman Craig Mangum said.

They used the Phunny Phorty Phellows as inspiration.“We didn’t want to step on their toes,” said Mangum, “yet we thought we could add something different.”
Something different is always welcome. We actually got something different for Twelfth Night a few years back when the "Societé de Champs Elyseé" started riding the Rampart Streetcar. The crosstown "rivalry" implied by that adds something fun. I'm not sure a second group riding the St. Charles line does. We've made a ritual out of meeting the Phellows every year and there's something about the mystery of it; the quiet evening broken for just the most fleeting glimpse of a party; that serves as a perfect thematic opening to the season.

Phellows phreezing

It feels like a second group passing by might break the magic of it a little bit.  Or maybe not.  It's just Carnival nonsense in any case.

Did they consider maybe trying to do this on the Canal line, though?  Since we now have two Twelfth Night rides on two different streetcar lines, it seems like the natural way to expand the concept would be to get a third part of town involved.  Maybe have some kind of toast where they all converge downtown... Invite the mayor or something... I don't know... somebody besides me needs to sell this idea. 

Enemy of the people

Yesterday in LGM's long running This Day In Labor History series, we found this post on the New Orleans General Strike of 1892.
On November 12, 1892, the New Orleans General Strike ended with a major victory for workers. One of the few true general strikes in American history, it demonstrated the potential power of workers, even in the face of race-baiting and military opposition in the Gilded Age.
I don't like copy/pasting too much of a post you should just go read. But some of the details are worth taking special note of.  For example, even though this episode is considered a win for labor, the fallout led to one of the first instances of the Sherman Anti-trust Act being turned against unions.   Also Governor Murphy Foster The First appears here as a racist strikebreaker a full century before Governor Murphy Foster The Second was elected to basically promote the same vibe.

Most remarkably, at least in this telling, is the failure of  the New Orleans Board of Trade to brake the strike with race-baiting tactics. This was not for lack of help pushing the narrative.
At the same time, the Board of Trade decided to racebait the strike. How dare white and black workers organize together!!!! Of the Triple Alliance unions, the Teamsters were primarily black and the Scalers and Packers mostly white. So to break the strike by race, the Board of Trade announced they would come to an agreement with the two white-dominated unions but not the Teamsters. Newspapers began running stories of black workers forming mobs and rampaging through the streets, of course threatening white women and other typical claims designed to whip up violence against African-Americans.
Because we are currently ruled by crypto-fascists, we have to contend with a lot of deliberate bad faith nonsense about "fake news" from blowhards like Donald Trump.  But the right wing has always bullied the press and largely gotten what it has wanted from it as a result.  The "liberal media" trope has been a favorite crutch for Republicans looking to work the refs for decades. Just because the popular idiom is slightly more crass these days doesn't mean the substance of the argument has moved very much.  The results are the same, anyway.  The more the right bullies the press, the more the press treats their bad faith arguments as a legitimate side of an unresolvable "balanced" debate.

That is, except for the occasions when we find the news media actually working in lockstep with the right in order to bully the powerless as the New Orleans newspapers did during these strikes. Among the many insults Trump deploys against the press in order to keep them in line has been "enemy of the people." And like Trump's many insults it isn't really true. Not in the way he means it anyway.

However, it is fair to say that the portion of the press employed by the large corporate entities who dominate the market to frame the political narrative day to day are deeply invested in defending the status quo.  Which is how we end up with an overpaid pundit class all too happy to mock the idea that housing might be an unaffordable burden for a working class person moving into the D.C. area.  For the same reasons, the storytellers of New Orleans in 1892 were all too happy to smear and disrupt a working class asking for a fairer share of what it produced.  Little has changed. The ruling class's scribes defend their own against the people they choose to define as an enemy.

It's something to keep in mind next year if, say, Louisiana's teachers are forced by an inattentive legislature or by their school boards' continuing deference to the privileges of oligarchs to decide they have to walk out in the middle of a statewide election. But that's a different day in labor history yet to come.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Well it is quite a lede

I guess it's not hard to understand why WWLTV went with the gold watches banquet at the top of this story about an auditor's report on Sewerage and Water Board.  But that really isn't the big systemic problem.  This is.
But the revelations about the lack of consistency and controls in contracting stretch far beyond the contracts for special events.

The agency lacks a contract management system, and even after seven weeks, did not provide all the contracts and backup documentation auditors requested for their analysis.

The audit revealed the S&WB does not have policies in place to sufficiently monitor the agency’s contracts. For example, policies that were developed to rein in change orders and contract amendments were never finalized and, therefore, not routinely or consistently followed to keep costs from ballooning.

Policies inconsistent with state bid laws also led to possible violations of the law regarding the length of time bids were advertised, according to the audit.
I mean, yeah, they need to use better judgement in terms of what kinds of employee appreciation gifts they hand out. But putting that stuff in as the highlight of the story tends to feed a trope where we blame line employees for the damage actually being done by the graft of  administrators, politicians and contractors. That's really where we find the fancy jewelry anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The only 2018 election re-cap anybody recorded

Also, you know, the regular nonsense

"You cannot trust the legal process"

I'm an old dude now so this stuff is practically yesterday for me. But maybe not everybody remembers the ancient wayback past of practically yesterday. So, from time to time, it's useful to point out that, hey this shit happening right now actually happened before in the (very slight) hope that maybe it can be different this time.
In McAlevey’s book, she recounts that in her first days in West Palm Beach she worked on collecting affidavits from Floridians, mostly retirees, who believed their votes had not been correctly tallied. There were huge numbers of them, and they were furious. McAlevey asked her superiors,“So when can we actually mobilize them, put these wonderful angry senior citizens into the streets and on camera?”

The answer came back: never. She then learned that Jesse Jackson was coming to Florida to lead a rally, but organized labor would not be participating. Why? Because the Gore campaign wanted everyone to stand down. McAlevey quotes a higher up as telling her, “The Gore campaign has made the decision that this is not the image they want. They don’t want to protest. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to seem like they don’t have faith in the legal system.”

This was Gore’s central mistake. “You cannot trust ‘the legal process,’” McAlevey explains today. In reality, there is no such thing as a fair legal process separate from and immune to outside political pressure.
But pointing this out and hoping for better also sets us up to ask, is our Democrats learning?  And the answer to that question might cause us old dudes to develop ulcers. 


Far be it for me to come down too hard on people for, like, typos and stuff.  It's fine to make mistakes. I really just am interested in why these happened. 
The council must adopt a budget for 2019 by Dec. 1. The Landrieu administration normally presented its proposed budget in October, which gave the council nearly two months to deliberate. This year, the Cantrell administration submitted its proposal on Nov. 1 — the legal deadline.

The city’s website uploaded a new version of the proposal on Thursday, which city officials say corrects the mistakes of the prior iteration.

The changes aren’t minor. For example, in the first version of the budget, non-recurring revenue from 2017 was listed at $10 million. In the new version, the number was increased to about $50 million. In the first version, general fund revenues were predicted to increase 13.5% from 2018 to 2019. In the new version, that rise was reduced to 1.8%.

“What this did was put us behind the magic eight ball when looking at the year-over-year changes,” said Councilman Joseph Giarrusso.

In an email to the council, Cantrell’s top deputy, Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano, said that only numbers from 2017 and 2018 were changed. The forecasts for 2019 were not affected, he said.
The email doesn't really clarify anything about how the errors happened. In the Q&A, Montano talks about "clerical errors" which sounds like staff made a boo boo. And, again, boo boos are fine. It's better if you can explain how they happened, though. What happened? Did somebody's cat walk all over the spreadsheet one night? Did we lose our concentration and hit the wrong button because "Baby Shark" was stuck in our head?  Tell us a story that humanizes the error and we will happily move on.  Also, as the article points out at the top of that block quote, maybe try and get the thing out on time so people can look this stuff over. Anyway, no big deal.  This time.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Budget Party Day One

It's been a few months now and I'm still not sure what to make of this Monatno guy.  I wasn't encouraged from what I had read of his time in Albuquerque where the first things that stood out were a penchant for downsizing and an interest in "predictive policing" algorithms. I was slightly more concerned when it looked like he was advocating stop and frisk cops as a revenue generating replacement for traffic cameras. But we really can't judge the CAO until we see what his budget proposal looks like. And that's what this month's city council hearings are all about.  So let's see what we've learned on day one.
The fissures between Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration and the New Orleans City Council became more evident as the two sides sparred over funding and revenues on Friday during the first hearing on next year’s budget.

Council members sharply criticized Cantrell’s inaugural spending plan, arguing it should have included more money for catch basin cleaning and questioning whether a proposal make traffic tickets more expensive bucked a trend locally and nationwide to move away from heft penalties for minor offenses.
Uh oh. That sounds like Montano's budget is going to prioritize writing more parking tickets over cleaning out storm drains. That can't possibly be right. In addition to being a retrograde and regressive means of using law enforcement power to extort money out of poor people, it's also incredibly  politically insensitive. 

Councilmembers were, rightfully skeptical. Their questions elicited strange responses, though. 
Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño said it’s possible the administration could shift more money to Public Works in the middle of next year, but that before he provides more money to the department he wants a more thorough review of its costs.

"I think a lot of these problems came from just throwing money at it and hope that it gets done," Montaño said.

"But money is a resource you need to solve a problem," Giarrusso said.
I'm starting to think Montano has a fundamental disagreement with councilmembers about what's going on here.  Giarrusso assumes the budget process is about allocating resources in ways that best meet the needs of the citizenry.  Montano derides that basic governmental function as "throwing money at" those needs.

This has all the look of that old "run government like a business" canard we thought we had finally thrown off when Ray Nagin's "business-oriented" administration proved out to be teeming with grifters. But here we are again.  Montano hasn't said this explicitly, but he sure sounds like he wants to spend money only when its purpose is to make money back. Councilmembers are correct to question these priorities.
Several council members said it was particularly tone deaf for the administration to leave the catch basin funding flat even as the department beefed up the number of parking enforcement officers who ticket illegally parked vehicles.

“It’s sending a bizarre message out there because I think the priority to the public has always been on the catch basin side,” Councilwoman Helena Moreno said.
Tone deaf.  It hasn't even been a year but that phrase does come up a lot in reference to the way this administration conducts itself.  I wonder how often we're going to use extortion as well. 
Another revenue plan announced at the meeting raised more eyebrows.

The budget projects the city will bring in $500,000 more from traffic tickets next year. That money would come from instructing New Orleans Police Department officers to issue tickets under state law, rather than the city ordinances that have lower fines.
So on Day One of the budget process we're already starting to confirm some of our worst concerns about the Cantrell governing philosophy.  Her CAO is hesitant to fund essential services and eager to use police powers to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of the citizen customer.  But, hey, it's only the beginning. Maybe things will look better when we start talking about crime cameras  

When you get old

I, for one, very much enjoyed the Dez Bryant era.
Newly signed wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered what the New Orleans Saints fear may be a serious injury at practice Friday, according to an NFL.com report.

Per the report, Bryant had to be helped off the practice field Friday (Nov. 9) and is receiving an MRI on what the team is fearing could be a torn Achilles tendon. An ESPN report stated the injury occurred on the final play of practice.
Bryant is an 8 year veteran who just turned 30. That doesn't seem very old but remember Saints all time leading receiver Marques Colston retired at age 32 after 10 seasons, the last of which was only half as productive as each of the previous nine.  It's expecting a lot for a high performance athlete whose skills involve sprinting, jumping, planting and turning as quickly and violently as possible, to maintain a peak level very much beyond the point when his body's flexibility and resilience starts to go.  And, when it goes, that usually manifests as a greater frequency of injuries like this.

I'm an old dude now but I still run regularly.  I can remember a time when, if I had sprained or pulled something in my foot, the best way to recover would just be to keep running on it until it fixed itself. I have to be a lot more careful now. A twinge in the heel can blow up into a fully sprained calf that will keep me off of the leg altogether for weeks at a time.  I can mitigate that a bit by stretching more and by being more deliberate with my stride. Also I find that it's a lot less wear and tear if I keep my weight down.  Which is why this seems significant.

In any case, it gets harder when you get older. I can still do the things I have to do them more carefully and less aggressively.  A professional athlete really doesn't have that option.

Law of conservation of Jeffs

When you have to dump one horrible booster of racist cops and voter suppression but still need an Attorney General, it only makes sense that you would want one just like him as a replacement.  Ideally you would get one with the same name so you don't have to learn a new thing.
Could Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry be in the running to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned from his post as U.S. attorney general earlier this week?

Speculation swirled on Thursday -- two days after Sessions submitted his resignation at the president's request -- that Landry may have made it onto the White House's short list of candidates to take the reins as attorney general. At least some close to Landry, who is is president of the National Attorney General Association and on the executive committee of the Republican Attorney General Association, believe he's under consideration, according to multiple sources.
The other choices are Kris Kobach (probably the scariest vote suppression specialist of all) , Chris Christie (famous screamer at teachers)  and, of course, Rudy! so qualitatively speaking, it really doesn't matter which one Trump picks. 

If he does take our Jeff  (please!) though, then that has serious repercussions for next year's Governor's election. Speaking of which, John Kennedy says he's going to make a decision "in the next couple of weeks."  Suddenly having Landry out of the picture would make that easier on him.


Eyes rolled all the way back.
The 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will expand to eight days at the Fair Grounds, kicking off on Thursday, April 25. The extra day was added to the opening weekend to celebrate Jazz Fest's 50th anniversary.

Both weekends of the festival will now run Thursday through Sunday: April 25-28 and May 2-5.

The new day is designated "Locals Thursdays." Anyone with a valid Louisiana ID will be able to purchase two discounted tickets for $50 apiece at the Fair Grounds gate.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Does Cameron Meredith exist?

It's impossible to know. The Saints keep trying to hide their major offseason acquisition behind stuff.
Dez Bryant is returning to the NFL -- with the New Orleans Saints.

After working out for the team Tuesday, the free-agent Bryant agreed to a one-year deal with New Orleans, which sits atop the NFC South and is arguably the best team in the league at 7-1, the Saints announced Wednesday.

The interest in Bryant, 30, comes at a time when New Orleans is struggling to get production out of its receivers not named Michael Thomas. Ted Ginn Jr. is on injured reserve with a knee injury, and Cam Meredith, who was signed this offseason, hasn't played more than 26 percent of the snaps the last three weeks. He has nine catches for 114 yards with one touchdown.
Our best guess is Meredith isn't all the way back from the injury that kept him out all of last year and made him something of a gamble for the Saints to sign in the first place. (Meredith missed practice today, in fact.)   Now they've had to go and take another gamble on another injured and possibly washed up receiver just to cover up for that. Oh Dez is also fat.

Hope it works out.

"Obvious gross misunderstanding"

I don't know if I could count the number of times I've expressed skepticism over the efficacy of "inclusionary zoning" rules as a remedy for the affordable housing crisis.  Typically, when these policies are implemented, the formula doesn't set aside nearly enough units to meet the need. And more often than not, they actually serve as a kind of token for rationalizing.. or even subsidizing.. more luxury housing for rich people. Worst of all they're an easy out for decision makers looking to claim they have done something about housing and an excuse for stopping there.

Having said all of that, we have to recognize the unique corner the City Planning Commission finds itself painted into this week. The legislature and the governor have given them what amounts to a "use it or lose it" ultimatum.
In August, the New Orleans City Council tasked the CPC staff with studying three types of “inclusionary zoning” policies as part of the creation of a so-called “smart housing mix,” revisiting the results of a 2017 study that recommended the city adopt similar rules.

Those recommendations were shelved. This year, Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a measure that would prevent municipalities from instituting their own inclusionary zoning requirements, only on the condition that New Orleans decide whether it wants them, otherwise he’ll plan to sign similar legislation next year.
Even so, the commissioners are reluctant to act. Last month Mitch Landrieu's good buddy Walter Isaacson wondered out loud if housing problem would just go away on its own thanks to "market forces."  Now it's one thing for us to be suspicious that this one policy choice is itself not much better than laissez faire trickle down approach. It's something else entirely for the Planning Commissison to actually prefer trickle down as the ideal. So circumstances have conspired such that housing advocates are left with no choice but to fight tooth and nail to keep this marginal tool on the table.
Housing NOLA executive director Andreanecia Morris tells Gambit that even with the report’s recognition of the housing problem, and the years-long argument for mandated affordable housing creation, advocates face an uphill battle with a commision with an “obvious, gross misunderstanding of the circumstances as well as the need of a solution that could be brought to bear.”

“Will we exhibit the courage necessary to take up the challenge from the governor to bring this much needed program into reality?” Morris asks. “And will we consistently enforce it?”
Morris is being nice, there. We would characterize Isaacson's position as having been born more out of hostility than "misunderstanding."  Either way, CPC is going to take up the "smart housing mix" report on November 13.  Probably will be off in some broom closet or something at City Hall. The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance has more information here.