“There is a big difference between me and him,” Edwards said, “but I am supremely confident as I stand before you today that the people of Louisiana know that, they get it and when the hand comes off the Bible on inauguration day, it will be my hand.” He was mocking a commercial by Rispone who promised to get tough “on illegal immigration the second my hand comes off the Bible.”It's weird what politicians think is funny, or even novel. Bible pledges have been a thing for as long as I can remember. It's what you say instead of, "On Day One..." when your campaign relies on patronizing churchy types.
And I guess that does fit Derrick Shepherd's M.O. well enough. He's always inclined toward that sort of thing. It's no surprise that he would lean on it even harder now in his first run for office since getting out of jail. Shep is in a runoff now with his cousin Byron Lee for the Jefferson Parish Council District 3 seat. He's made "atonement," with a fair amount of religious subtext, a theme in his messaging.
Beyond that there is the, well, the text that appears on the website of his website, 2ndChanceNOLA. Ostensibly the site is about Shep taking up the cause of ex-offenders' rights. In a vacuum, that is quite laudable. In fact, we here at this very blog have cheered Shep's previous efforts at restoring the full civil rights of those who have been convicted of felonies. Although, we can't help but suspect that his motivation in these matters is, to put it nicely, personal, to put it less nicely but more accurately, cynical.
During his days in the state senate, Shepherd was most famous as the author of one of those "baggy pants" bills that were popular at the time among the Cops & Jesus set. Despite his sudden affected sympathy the victims of the criminal punishment system, Shepherd's website indicates he is in no way reformed on those points.
I owned up to my crime, pleaded guilty and paid my debt to society.So it's not surprising at all to read that Shep would be the latest candidate to deliver a bible pledge. The circumstances of that are pretty interesting too.
I am pro-criminal justice, pro-police and pro-law and order. Going to prison didn't change the core values I upheld as a citizen, a JAG officer in the military, attorney and state senator. I still believe in the strength, honor and importance of those values as strongly as I believe in God. With everything I brought upon myself, my family, friends and the constituents I represented in the state legislature, I still want to be a contributing member of the community and not sink into the shadows.
Lee has at least one powerful ally on his side. A political action committee funded by River Birch Landfill owners Fred Heebe and Jim Ward has sent out several mailers calling Shepherd untrustworthy and bringing up his past legal troubles, including allegations of domestic violence.Long time Shep fans will recall that his name did come up in the River Birch bribery case when he and other local officials appeared to work on behalf of the River Birch owners to shut down a rival landfill by, yes, "siccing DEQ on it." It was then alleged that Shepherd turned to the River Birch owners in search of an exchange of favors-for-favors.
But Shepherd shrugs off the attacks from the New Horizons PAC, saying they were prompted by his vow to make sure River Birch is operating in compliance with state regulations.
"I plan on siccing (the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality) on the River Birch Landfill as soon as my hand comes off that Bible," Shepherd said.
No evidence has surfaced to show that Shepherd was working on behalf of River Birch. But at least once, he had a direct interaction with one of the company's owners.And now Shep is on the comeback trail and, if the above story is correct, River Birch would understandably be worried he could end up in a position to seek retribution.
On Dec. 18, 2008, after he was convicted and shortly before he reported to prison, he pulled into Ward's driveway and demanded an audience, according to a letter that River Birch attorney Peter Butler wrote to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
Ward invited him into the backyard, where Shepherd said he was "contacting his 'friends' to help him out and asked if Mr. Ward could give him a job," Butler wrote. Shepherd then asked for money.
Ward ended the conversation and brushed off Shepherd.
Of course, if Eddie Rispone's hand comes off the bible too next year, it's questionable whether there will be anyone left at DEQ to sic on anybody. So, you know, joke's on Shep.