Friday, June 29, 2007

Stuff to Do

  • Tops on my list this weekend is see Sicko opening tonight at Canal Place and The Palace in Elmwood.

  • Also of note, the Neutral Ground Coffee House celebrates its 30th anniversary this Sunday beginning at 7 PM

Other than that, it looks like a quiet weekend. July promises to be much more.. active.

Finance is fun!

The local news lately is loaded with examples of creative things that can be done with public money. Ordinarily I try to stay current with the economic and financial news by reading YRHT, but recently there are more than a few fun things to be gained simply by drowsing browsing through the T-P.

For example, the ongoing LIFT scandal teaches us that there is a burgeoning secondary market in State tax credits. Film productions operating in Louisiana in order to take advantage of the much-ballyhooed "Hollywood South" tax credits don't simply spend their own money and write it off at tax time, they sell the tax credits to brokers for upfront cash which then (theoretically) goes back into the production. It's a convenient way to raise a bunch of money real quick-like.

Ed Blakely hopes to accomplish a similar feat following the Louisiana Recovery Authority's decision this week to approve the UNOP and thus make available $117 million in community development block grant funds for Blakely's $1.1 billion rebuilding plan.

Wait stop. Before we go any further, let us note that Blakely has given his plan a new name. It is from this point forward to be known as the New Orleans Strategic Recovery and Redevelopment Plan (NOSRRP) at least until such time as circumstances demand the addition of yet another confusing acronym to an already crowded field... probably another month or so. Also this reminds me that someone should be working to update this chart before the next change goes through.

Now... back to Blakely and his money. Federal law stipulates that the block grants must be distributed on a project-by-project basis. But Blakely is planning to circumvent these rules by using the approval as a "letter of credit" against which the city may borrow the full sum immediately. Although probably a violation of the spirit of the law, it's a creative move. However, there is no indication of what kind of interest rate would be involved in such a transaction. And, of course.. even if this happens $117 million is pretty far from the $1.1 billion Blakely wants to spend overall. Those cranes aren't cheap.

Tuesday's T-P report on the LRA approval looks into the other various proposed funding sources. Some of them are more promising than others. But I still don't see how.. under the best of circumstances they add up to $1.1 billion. From what I can glean so far, the possible NOSRRP funding looks like this:
  • $117 million: The above discussed CDBG money turned into a borrowed lump sum... minus future undisclosed interest payments.

  • $260 million: To be culled from a Capital Improvements bond issue approved by voters in 2004. This is tricky because Blakely is trying to finesse money already dedicated to a list of certain "pre-Katrina" projects to fit his recovery zone plan. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that the bulk of the projects slated for the target zones are cribbed directly from the terms of this bond issue. The legality of this is still being disputed. For its part the city is claiming that the capital improvements projects reside nebulously on a "living list" that will continue to be altered as the city sees fit. A large chunk of NOSRRP relies on the amount of discretion Blakely will be allowed with this money.

  • $300 million, $200 million or possibly far far less: The much discussed "blight bonds" scheme wherein the city would borrow money against the value of adjudicated property. Predictably, this is isn't proceeding quite as well as originally planned. Quoting Tuesday's T-P:
    Blakely early on suggested the city easily could leverage $300 million using abandoned properties as collateral. But the windfall has proved elusive, and Mayor Ray Nagin instead has been trying to cobble together $40 million in private grants to use as security to borrow $200 million.
    So right now the "blight bonds" are at best worth $200 million... but only if a sizable chunk of cash can be found up front. Doesn't say much for the potential value of the properties does it?

  • $324 million: This is from the pot of money recently made available to the State when the Feds.. after a great deal of pleading... finally agreed to waive the 10 percent local match required for Federal disaster reconstruction funds. Currently LRA is holding this money as part of a "rainy day fund" in case it is needed to help plug the Road Home money hole. Um.. it might be a while before this money again.

  • $57.4 million: Various funds held up by disputes between the State and Feds over disbursement rules. Should shake out sooner or later.

So let's see. Taken together, the most optimistic projection (counting the full $300 million for the blight bonds) adds up to about $1.05 billion which admittedly sounds close to the NOSRRP target. But I think it should be obvious how tenuous much of this money actually is.

I'd say it's likely that most of the "living list" money will eventually go where Blakely wants it... although it may take a while.

I'm far less confident about the "rainy day" fund particularly as the State government becomes increasingly hostile toward New Orleans over the next few years.

Even worse is the "blight bonds" scheme which is already showing signs of becoming a waste of time.

So far, only Blakely's plan to borrow against the CDBG approval seems likely to generate any of the magical up front cash on hand that he's looking for. From the looks of the rest of it, well I don't know how soon those cranes will be here.

Related: Almost forgot... The latest Suspect Device strip is fun.


Still having technical and time issues. Will be back soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In case anyone is feeling abandoned

Internet access has been somewhat limited as of late. I've got a few things in the pipeline I may be able to squeeze out later, though. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I still say it should run 24 hrs

This is nice but who wants to come home from the Quarter to the Point at 12:15?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Here, you write this post for me

I'll just give you the link.

And, of course, the appropriate tags.

It's nice to have a budget surplus

Blanco thinks she's found a way to kill two birds with one big sack of money.

BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco came up with a plan Sunday to help patch the Road Home shortfall and simultaneously bypass her dispute with Washington conservatives over a proposed Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

The governor will rely solely on state money to build the medical facility, then shift federal recovery dollars allocated to the hospital to fill in the Road Home gap.

Her move takes the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development out of the equation in deciding how to proceed on the medical center at a time when HUD, the Bush administration and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., have become increasingly skeptical of the scope of her hospital plan.

I don't know if this puts the Charity Hospital project on shakier footing in the future or not, but getting HUD and David Vitter's unhelpful asses off of the State's case looks like a good move from here.

Also, by finding money for Road Home, the Governor may have freed LRA to release the block grant money that Ed Blakely's office has been counting on to partially fund the city's rebuilding plan. This may happen as early as today.

So.. not all the news is bad this morning.

Update: LRA has released $117 million to the city.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here's why I like Taibbi so much

His latest piece lays out just about everything I hate about the American Yuppie-Left. Yes, of course, I'll cut and paste some highlights.

(Vermont Senator Bernie) Sanders agrees, saying that “where the money comes from” is definitely one of the reasons that the so-called liberals in Washington – i.e. the Democrats – tend not to get too heavily into financial issues that affect ordinary people. This basically regressive electoral formula has been a staple of the Democratic Party ever since the Walter Mondale fiasco in the mid-eighties prompted a few shrewd Washington insiders to create the notorious “pro-business” political formula of the Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to end the party’s dependence upon labor money by announcing a new willingness to sell out on financial issues in exchange for support from Wall Street. Once the DLC’s financial strategy helped get Bill Clinton elected, no one in Washington ever again bothered to question the wisdom of the political compromises it required.

Within a decade, the process was automatic – Citibank gives money to Tom Daschle, Tom Daschle crafts the hideous Bankruptcy Bill, and suddenly the Midwestern union member who was laid off in the wake of Democrat-passed NAFTA can’t even declare bankruptcy to get out from the credit card debt he incurred in his unemployment. He will now probably suck eggs for the rest of his life, paying off credit card debt year after year at a snail’s pace while working as a non-union butcher in a Wal-Mart in Butte. Royally screwed twice by the Democratic Party he voted for, he will almost certainly decide to vote Republican the first time he opens up the door to find four pimply college students wearing I READ BANNED BOOKS t-shirts taking up a collection to agitate for dolphin-safe tuna.

What makes the American left silly? Things that in a vacuum should be logical impossibilities are frighteningly common in lefty political scenes. The word “oppression” escaping, for any reason, the mouths of kids whose parents are paying 20 grand for them to go to private colleges. Academics in Priuses using the word “Amerika.” Ebonics, Fanetiks, and other such insane institutional manifestations of white guilt. Combat berets. Combat berets in conjunction with designer coffees. Combat berets in conjunction with designer coffees consumed at leisure in between conversational comparisons of America to Nazi Germany.

We all know where this stuff comes from. Anyone who’s ever been to a lefty political meeting knows the deal – the problem is the “spirit of inclusiveness” stretched to the limits of absurdity. The post-sixties dogma that everyone’s viewpoint is legitimate, everyone‘s choice about anything (lifestyle, gender, ethnicity, even class) is valid, that’s now so totally ingrained that at every single meeting, every time some yutz gets up and starts rambling about anything, no matter how ridiculous, no one ever tells him to shut the fuck up. Next thing you know, you’ve got guys on stilts wearing mime makeup and Cat-in-the-Hat striped top-hats leading a half-million people at an anti-war rally. Why is that guy there? Because no one told him that war is a matter of life and death and that he should leave his fucking stilts at home.

The Yuppie Left is also active in NOLA. The Yuppie Left in New Orleans does things like "reform" the school system by contracting its management out to a thousand little corruptible fiefdoms. The Yuppie Left in New Orleans fawns all over arrogant "smart, tough leaders" like Ed Blakely because he allows them to throw the term "buffoon" around in resentful reference to people with a bit less refinement and class than they are endowed with. The Yuppie Left screams loudly in support of the faster and longer incarceration of teenagers, random traffic stops, and police cameras on city streets. The Yuppie Left in New Orleans likes "mixed-income housing." They're really big on the broken window theory. The Yuppie Left in New Orleans supported "reformer-businessman" Ray Nagin in 2002. They just have no idea what could have happened to him since then... that flood must have really stressed him out or something. The Yuppie Left in New Orleans is endlessly titillated by the daily headlines about the crooks and cronies associated with Dollar Bill and Marc Morial... as though such grand strokes of justice mean the End to All Political Corruption Ever.

The Yuppie Left in New Orleans would, I suppose, be kind of cute... if they didn't give me such a blinding headache.

I missed this somehow. Make sure you don't

Dambala was interviewed recently for a podcast at Citizenreporter.org Good stuff there.

Weekend Discusssion Questions

1) Read this article on the City Council's approval of the the adopted Unified New Orleans Plan. Explain in detail how a $14 billion haphazardly brainstormed wishlist citywide rebuilding plan will be funded by a questionable reworking of a $260 million bond issue combined with $117 million in grant money that LRA may withhold anyway in order to fund the Road Home program. What, in your opinion, is the difference between "capital improvements" and "citywide rebuilding" expressed in monetary terms?

2) Consider this quote from Karran Harper Royal that appeared at the end of Thursday's story about corruption on the Orleans Parish School Board.
Although some public school critics might use the Brooks-Simms episode to argue against any return of city schools to local control, Royal thinks the balkanization of the system could lead to bigger problems down the road.

"The School Board is just one board with seven members," she said. "Now, with the push to chartering, you've got many, many boards, and many, many members, and there's no infrastructure in place for proper oversight and accountability for things like this. You can't tell me that (U.S. Attorney Jim) Letten will be able to be on top of all these boards like he was on top of this issue. I think an atmosphere has been created for much more corruption."

Do you believe the bizarre experimental "reforms" which have fragmented the New Orleans public school system will lead to more or less incompetence and corruption in the future? Does this incident of employee abuse and corporal punishment of students at one New Orleans charter school affect your answer? Keep in mind that "It can't possibly get any worse" is not an acceptable response as thing most certainly can always get worse.

3) Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can relate their answers to the above questions to a brief discussion of how potentially damaging "reforms" have exacerbated rather than eased the difficulties of rebuilding a post-flood New Orleans due to a "Myth of the Blank Slate" mentality prevalent among its daydreaming residents.

Extry Bonus Question: How many points of comparison can you derive between Ellenese Brooks Simms and Dolores Umbridge?

Update: Oh too late.. It looks like Professor Umbridge has already been spotted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Busy Day

I know it's been kind of a big news day locally. I think Oyster and Adrastos have some worthwhile thoughts about the Mose Jefferson-Ellenese Simms connection. Other than that I haven't had the time today to sift through the local blogosphere for nuggets of wisdom. I'll have more later.

The short version is this:

1) Throwing out this batch of crooks will.. at best.. give rise to the next batch of crooks.

2) Politics is always about figuring out which batch of crooks is most on your side of things.

3) I am disgusted with the outgoing batch and will not miss them.

4) I believe the incoming batch will likely be far worse.

Also.. Oyster writes,

But I suppose this is the eventuality those "strategic" Jefferson voters were hoping for in December.

This is on the right track. New Orleans and Louisiana will suffer for the crimes of Jefferson's cronies. Louisiana conservatives could not be happier. After the next few election cycles, Louisiana conservatives will hold much greater power and prestige in a more powerless and poorer Louisiana.

I realize this is not a very detailed post. I'll try to elaborate later.. or likely tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's called taking yourself too damned seriously

Between Reggie Bush's reprehensible behavior and this too-cute stunt, the Saints' off-season has officially broken the self-importance meter. If there's any justice in the world they won't win a game in 2007.

Caveat: There is no justice in the world.

The U.S. is not a "sustainable" state

According to the Failed States Index

Closer examination of the Index's indicators reveals that the U.S. scores the worst in these categories.
  • Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines

  • Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies


If it's fun, if it's good, if it's even remotely interesting, you can rest assured it is not welcome in Jefferson Parish.

Before the angry white Jeffersonians start commenting, I remind you that if this were actually a health issue, there are ways to license, inspect, and otherwise regulate portable food dispensaries.

Also, the JP officials quoted here say they are upset about having their "aesthetics" disrupted. Sno-Ball stands, fruit vendors and outdoor crawfish boils don't offend Jefferson Parish's aesthetic sensibilities but taco trucks do. Why is that?

Also.. there's evidence here of some weird attempt to deny reality by forcibly wishing some things away.
"These temporary businesses, they reflect the immediate, post-Katrina atmosphere," said Parish Councilman Louis Congemi, who is leading the push against the food stands. "We're trying to get away from that."
God I hate white people!

Note: some edits after publication

So what's our move here?

Do we simply boycott this event or firebomb it?

Epilogue to Blakely's non-event yesterday

1) The most certain source of funding for Blakely's rebuilding plan remains the 2004 capital improvements bond issue. In other words, the "rebuilding" of the city as planned at the moment amounts to no greater a project than a batch of improvements already deemed necessary BEFORE the flood.

2) Those who wish to apply for the Ed-Blakelys-of-the-future training program announced during yesterday's press conference are already too late as the application deadline had passed prior to the announcement. CORRECTION: "Round 3" application deadline is actually today..... unless your employer has nominated you in which case you have until July 24. So it's not exactly horrible, but you would think these announcements would precede the actual beginning of the process.

I hope everyone had a pleasant Recovery Day and that you didn't party too hard since today is no longer the official day for... recovery. Next year we'll try to get a band or something.

Monday, June 18, 2007


It's the single greatest item ever to come into existence and it's right here!!

And I was in such a sad mood just a minute ago. Thanks, Daisy!

We are a stupid stupid people

Sometimes late in the evening one arrives anew at this conclusion and it stings just as badly all over again.

Here, you want a hit of it? Read this recap of fun facts about the Iraq War, take a few deep breaths, light some candles, get into your favorite yoga pose or whatever, and remember we reelected these people; folks are still dying for this war (It helps to say those things out loud if you like), and you'll see what I'm getting at.

Meanwhile I'm still celebrating Recovery Day.

Career opportunities

Turns out Blakely wanted to announce that there is now funding available to train more Ed Blakelys.

Now excuse me while I continue celebrating Recovery Day.

The "living list"

We're still waiting to hear from Blakely. But he's likely to be talking about what's on the front page of the T-P today. The article looks at what it terms "the most solid piece of Blakely's otherwise tenuous financing package for the city's $1.1 billion recovery plan" which derives from a $260 million capital improvements bond issue passed by the voters back in 2004.

The bond issue was passed according to a pre-Katrina set of improvements priorities. Although the flood has obviously altered those priorities, the money cannot be legally appropriated for projects not specified in the item originally passed by the voters. Blakely is now trying to interpret the bond issue's wording loosely enough to subtly redirect funds to fit similar projects within his 17 targeted "recovery zones".
"What were doing is we're trying to match the projects with the zones. So a library is a library is a library, you know. If we move the library a block or two and put in the zone, we're fulfilling both objectives," Blakely said. "Certain streets are designated, but it doesn't necessarily say what block you're doing on that street, all right," he said. "So if we can move that block into one of our zones, that's what were doing. But were going to be within the intent of the legislation."
When Blakely's zones were first made public, I was a bit puzzled by some of the items marked for improvement in the plan. The fact that this bond issue had already set many of the parameters at least explains why the Blakely plan looks the way it does. At least it provides evidence that the plan was not spontaneously generated as Blakely said at the time, "in my head."

How much wiggle room the city has with this money is a point of contention however so, naturally, they're being as coy as possible with their plans.
"This list will become more solidified as a result of the process we are undertaking, but it will always be a living list, depending on the urgency of projects," spokesman James Ross said by e-mail, adding that the docket of new projects is being drawn up by the Office of Recovery Management and the City Planning Commission. Ross declined to provide a current draft.
So it is that our continued quest for specifics and transparency from the city once again comes down to "trust me".

Update: Oyster recaps another "living list" of recovery promises that haven't quite worked out the way Mayor cheerleader said they would. "Dying list" seems more appropriate.

Also: Happy Recovery Day btw. Celebrate by banging your head against the nearest brick wall until all the worries go away.

It's still safe to turn left on St Charles

Streetcar line won't be ready until 2008

Right now, from a layman's perspective, it looks like the cabling is nearly complete from Napoleon down to about Felicity St. From the looks of it, I would have thought the Lee Circle to Napoleon stretch would be ready sooner than this fall (as the latest statement from RTA predicts) but I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's easier (and faster) to bike downtown anyway.

Good morning, world

Radio just announced that Blakely has something to say. Brace yourselves.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Mike Gravel's ad... impossible to explain although his people sure did try. It's like they got in a room and said, "Okay so what if we tried to make another Daisy ad.. but one that has no actual point?"

The 2008 Presidential Campaign: Cutting Edge but devoid of all meaning.

Okay watch it if you have to but don't say I didn't warn you.

The new Ethanol

Looking for a reason to root for Florida's entry into the absurd who-can-hold-the-earliest-primary derby? Here you go.

ORLANDO — If Florida gets its way, hurricane insurance will be the new ethanol in presidential politics. Jealous that Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status for White House balloting always boosts that state’s self-interested obsession with corn-based fuel, Florida’s political elites are uprooting the campaign calendar in large part to put their own pet issue on the national agenda.

Lobbying presidential candidates to back a federal catastrophe insurance fund is at the root of a bipartisan crusade in Florida to make the nation’s fourth-largest state one of the early battlegrounds in the 2008 nomination races of both parties

Bad Karma

But.. logic says.. okay.. begrudgingly.

Saints cut Lewis, Whitehead

More on the "non-flood assets"

John Barry in today's T-P

These nonflood assets provide real flood protection, both indirectly -- by providing revenue -- and directly, by employing a labor force that the levee district needs during flood threats. The levee district has many more structures and gates requiring attention in a storm than do other districts. Think of its labor force as firefighters. Firefighters may sit around a lot, but when you need them, you really need them. The nonflood assets employ this labor force, which flood operations alone cannot afford, and keep it available.

But right now a gold rush is under way as everyone from private developers to the University of New Orleans to the city of New Orleans is scrambling to grab the district's holdings. Virtually none of these players have an interest in flood protection. One specific proposal, which unfortunately has considerable support among New Orleans legislators, symbolizes just how little the Legislature is thinking about floods: It actually defines "the operations center of the Orleans Levee District" -- that's a direct quote from the proposal -- as a nonflood asset. Yet the district must control its own home, or its operations may be compromised.

Anything the Legislature does must have two paramount objectives. First, people who work for the nonflood side must continue to play the role of firefighters when a flood comes. The Orleans Levee District must have absolute command and control over all personnel during an emergency.

Second, the Legislature has to guarantee that when the nonflood assets start turning a profit again, those profits will support flood protection. Under existing law, the flood protection authority has no say whatsoever over control of revenue-producing nonflood assets. So there is no incentive for whoever is running the nonflood assets to turn over profits, instead of, say, paying itself a higher management fee or hiring more people.


Foreclosure Rate Hits Historic High

Look out below!




FEMA allowed insurance companies to overbill NFIP

Will FEMA begin demanding its money back from insurers the way it has been demanding repayment of emergency assistance from evacuees? Don't hold your breath.

Celcus has more

Stuff to Do

  • Antigravity Magazine celebrates its third anniversary tonight at One Eyed Jack's. Perfomers include Big Baby, White Bitch, One Man Machine, and Metronome the City. Show starts at 10:00PM.

  • The Convergence Center for the Arts at 2130 Magazine St. will hold an opening reception for a new exhibition by Andrew Wilkie on Saturday June 16 from 6PM to 9PM. The show runs through July 31st

  • If you're in the Mid-City area, you should know you've got a local library branch beginning this week. Check it out if you get a chance... I haven't yet.

  • Finally, do something nice for Dad this weekend. I know he's an asshole but.... well just do something nice for Dad this weekend.

Speaking of which... if you ever wonder what it was like growing up in my father's house, it doesn't take much imagination. All you have to do is listen to George Carlin rant a while.

It's pretty much just like that... only every goddamned minute of every goddamned day. So, you know.. Happy Father's Day.

New map project

Since several people are doing such great work mapping violent crime in New Orleans, I figure it's time someone started tracking when and where Nagin's Nazis strike as well. I'll get on that for you.

Update: Aha! It's already being done by Common Ground.

Via Blogging New Orleans

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Your Democratically controlled US Senate actually has a chance to do something useful

Next week, debate begins on the Employee Free Choice Act Instead of explaining why this is such an important piece of legislation, I'll just have you read this FDL post.

This is a chance to achieve a small reversal in what has been a thirty-year all out assault on the right to organize.

For a fun description of what can happen when "reform" projects provide cover for shameless union-busting, one need look no further than today's T-P for this story about how our shiny new charter school experiment allows a newly non-union workforce (not to mention students) to be treated.

Here's what your "reform" gets you

The much celebrated levee district reforms passed last year largely because they promised to "take the politics out of flood control." Now it appears that one direct result of this reform is a new fight over which political entity will reap the benefits of the levee district's divestiture of its "non-flood" assets. And, yes, of course the city is one of the potential scavengers.
Add New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to the growing list of contenders seeking control of the financially hammered Orleans Levee District's vast real estate portfolio, including Lakefront Airport, two marinas and miles of valuable waterfront property.

The decision by Nagin's administration to join what some observers in Baton Rouge call a "feeding frenzy"over the levee district assets adds yet another variable to the complicated debate among state lawmakers struggling to forge a consensus as the 2007 legislative session heads into its final two weeks.
So a measure to "remove politics" from management of these properties merely shifts control from one political entity to another.... likely worse.. political entity.

But wait, say the "reformers", the idea was to remove the Levee District from these peripheral (and allegedly "corrupting") responsibilities in order that it may focus on its core mission of flood-control. What does managing an airport and marina have to do with that? Well... as it turns out.. quite a bit.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the non-flood assets provided about 40 percent of the Orleans district's revenue. But much of the district's revenue generating property remains dormant 21 months after the storm; property tax collections also remain down.

"The non-flood assets have always provided support for the flood side of things, and whether through levels of bureaucracy, layers of management, or excessive fees, a third party could eliminate any return of money for flood-fighting," said authority treasurer Tim Doody, a certified public accountant who lives in St. Bernard.

"If you put it with any political group, their main goal will be to create jobs, and when that happens, you're probably not operating efficiently, and you are then impacting flood protection," Doody said. "I've said all along that nobody will have an incentive to turn a profit (to be funneled back into flood control). Why would they?"
Wow so levee district "reform" has managed not only to increase the potential for patronage and corruption involved in the management of levee district assets, but also decrease revenue dedicated to flood protection. That's a neat trick. Way to go, guys.


Let's hear it for Rudolph and Mr. Rudolph: Married 4 years today... I think.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Queen Douchebag of the Day

Susan Howell

Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

The national media is determined to ruin the 2007 football season months before it begins.

Fox Sports:
It's only June, but it seems like New Orleans is the pre-training camp favorite to win the NFC amongst the general football media. From Peter King to the blogosphere, it looks like everyone's got the Saints playing in Glendale come February.
Guess there's nowhere to go but down.

Time to go back to Nash and his magic markers

Critical Hurricane Satellite Could Fail Any Time

Louisiana's war on ass cracks continues unabated

Mayor Of Cajun Town Bans Baggy Pants

DELCAMBRE, La. -- The Delcambre Town Council said overly saggy britches are obscene, and so does Mayor Carol Broussard, who said he will sign an anti-sag ordinance passed unanimously this week.

The addition to the Cajun-country town's indecent exposure ordinance carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for being caught in pants that show undergarments or, in the mayor's view, "private parts."

Broussard said he has nothing against saggy pants but thinks people who wear them should use discretion.

Low-hanging, baggy pants have become a fashion fad, mostly for young men in the hip-hop culture.

Broussard denied the ordinance is racially motivated.

Another local pol known for his tough-on-ass-crack stance is Marrero's own Derrick Shepherd who may just end up the next U.S. Congressman from Louisiana's 2nd District.. thanks to some "strategic" campaigning by "subtly minded" local conservatives.

Asshole quote of the day

From the strange conclusion to this already strange episode.

"I like to call these kinds of bills a 'come to Jesus meeting,'" Durand said. "I think New Orleans needs to understand that there are other sections of the state."

Right.. because we've just got too much fun and luxury around here lately.

State politics is going to be an even more intense game of kick-the-crap-outta-NOLA than ever for the next ten to fifteen years. If we had a decent Governor's race going on right now, the anti-NOLA hate vote would be the deciding element.

Heh.. Quote of the day #2

Oyster: "I want to know: regarding the Surge, is Jindal "Goose" to McCain's "Maverick"? "

Quote of the Day

Da Po Blog: "Why would anyone build the largest securities market in the country in a flood zone?"

I don't know either

That is.. I don't know why the obvious fishiness involving the city garbage contracts doesn't get more attention. I'll do my part and keep linking to Moldy City when there's a new post there about it.

I'll add, though, that if this is ever the target of an investigation by the new Inspector General, I thoroughly expect to see some garbage truck drivers frog-marched for the cameras... and then little else.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The countdown is on

How long will we wait until the newly appointed city inspector general has his cab-driver-frog-march moment wherein some minor half-victim inadvertent obscure rule breakers are paraded into court for the benefit of the local media while the big fish remain quietly undisturbed?

The over/under is six months.

Holy Crap

Sounds like bad things for Dambala as well. I hope he's okay.

Exploding Streets

Like I said.. it's hot.

Yesterday's record-breaking heat buckled a pair of concrete slabs in the roadway on Severn Avenue at 16th Street in Metairie, launching several vehicles into the air about 4:15 p.m.

"I must have come down from I don't know how many feet in the air," said Carolyn Elliot of Metairie, whose four-door green Cadillac careened off a 3-foot-high hump. "I saw lots of people in my rearview mirror flying through the air."

Actually this is not an uncommon phenomenon this time of year. For example, I posted a link to this action photo nearly two years ago to the date. Note also the ironic title of that post. Who knew we'd actually be hearing the all-too-serious version of that phrase one year later?

The Justice for Jefferson Comittee


I want to join. I want a bumper sticker.

Also.. it's hot

Oyster has a post up that.. in an abbreviated way.. tries to capture the prevailing mood around here by providing a few links to recent disappointing episodes. Here we go into another long hot summer/hurricane season with not much in the news besides a steady beat of same as it ever was.

The other day, Greg Peters wrote,
technically it isn’t really summer until the flying roaches return, covered with travel stickers and full of tales of adventure.
Well, the roaches are here. One of them visited me last night on the sidewalk in front of my building. It's summer. It's hot. And the news abroad is all bad.


It appears as though some Cincinnati Bengals message board participants have located my "Who Dat" post from just prior to last season's Saint-Bengals affair. The entire post has been reproduced on the message board with a few witty emoticons inserted for the purposes of editorial comment as well as some text which, while not always coherent, are not unclear as to their meaning.
Fuck you ... that is why Marvins Dad drown your fucking city
(Marvins Dad?) And in later comments:
Maybe FEMA didn't do such a bad job after-all?
And my personal favorite
"Who Dey think Brownie did a heckuva job ?"
Which is accompanied by a photo.

Actually I think there probably is more good humor intended here than was evident in the unpleasantness in Chicago this past January. But I do wish sports fans would at least try to relegate their taunts to sports-related matters (the Bengals did win the game after all) before stepping into these... sensitive areas.

Monday, June 11, 2007


You know you've got a problem on your hands when understanding your school system's administrative hierarchy requires a massively cumbersome flo-chart. Further explanation is provided in the New Orleans Parents' Guide to Public Schools, a 90 page document which reads:

Who’s running the schools?
Public schools in New Orleans fall into several broad categories based on which school district they are part of (New Orleans Public School district or Recovery School District)and whether they are charter schools. Bellow you will find information about these school districts and types. In most cases, you will need to contact individual schools for information. Contact information for each individual school can be found on pages 20-88.

Got that? Okay well you can always go back to the chart if you have to.

How is it that we were so hot to eliminate the redundant and inefficient waste wrought by seven Orleans Parish tax assessors (in the name of "reform") but have sleepily allowed this bizarre monstrosity to come about (also in the name of "reform")?

Note: This post which is partially about (and in fact tagged) "education" originally carried a misspelled word as its title. The editors of this space find the error (now corrected) regrettable.. but nonetheless quite amusing.

Liberry cards are free!!!

My least favorite question: "How much is a library card?" It comes up at least five times a day... and it always makes me a little sad.


Let me get this straight. You want to encourage people to dial a number on their cell phones while they're driving... in order to report other "reckless" drivers. Oookay.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Stuff to Do

  • This first one is a bit confusing becasue (1) it's new and (2) it looks like two separate ideas that have glommed on to one another. Is it the New Orleans Seafood Festival or is it the Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Festival? Either way it looks like a lot of food and music and whatnot going on at the Mint all weekend long. Should be good.

  • I hope the events at the Mint (whatever they call themselves) don't do too much to overshadow the Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market on Saturday and Sunday. More food, more music, cooking demos. This is always one of my favorites.

  • NOMA has something interesting planned. It's called Japan Fest and it's an "all-day event celebrating the culture and arts of Japan" beginning at 10:00am Sunday.

  • Finally, the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane goes once more unto the breach as its production of Henry V opens this weekend at Tulane's Lupin Theater. Tickets range form $12.50 to $25.00. And it's always worth it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

They sound the same to me

Josh Marshall has his "cultural-political tuning fork" out and doesn't like the vibe he gets from Mitt Romney.
But Romney seems so transparently phoney, so willing to say anything that I find him genuinely frightening. And this is something I don't feel about any of the other credible Republican presidential candidates, though I obviously have criticisms of each. Romney seems almost like a caricature of the political phoney.
And he's right. Mitt is stomach-turningly fake...just about the ickiest human imaginable. But Marshall raises an interesting question in this little thought bubble as he compares his perceived phoniness in Mitt to the widely perceived phoniness of Bill Clinton and asks,
So who makes you hear the dog whistle? And what sort of cultural imprint makes some of us hear it with (a shocking phoney like) Mitt Romney and others with Bill Clinton?

My answer is, it's the same sound..and if you only hear it from one and not the other, you aren't listening with both ears.

Heh heh Get it?

Because.. you see... it's funny!

Judge freezes Jefferson's finances

Fox News is like Al-Qaeda

At least, that's what Roger Ailes says.

The Bully

Taibbi has an excellent column on Giuliani out right now.

Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength -- and he knows it -- comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out. If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.

Taibbi's point is that Rudy, more than any other candidate, is the inheritor of Bush's legacy. He's certainly the inheritor of Bush's major donors and political advisers. But he's also steeped in the culture of free-market corruption made so famous in Washington by the Bushies and congressional Republicans over the past decade. The contenders for the GOP nomination may be treating Bush's name like kryptonite at the moment, but it is remarkable that the current front-runner seems quite comfortable with the Bush policies and practices that have driven that name to such an untouchable point.

Since my current political theory crush involves comparisons between the elections of 1968 and 2008 (see comments here), I prefer to see Giuliani as Nixon more so than Bush. Not that it's very difficult to get from one to the other mathematically. All you have to do to get to Nixon=Rudy is put the brain back.


Administration involvement in Department of Justice personnel decisions for punitive political reasons is now linked directly to Cheney.

Comey's disclosures, made in response to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicate that Cheney and his aides were more closely involved than previously known in a fierce internal battle over the legality of the warrantless surveillance program. The program allowed the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mails between the United States and overseas.

Comey said that Cheney's office later blocked the promotion of a senior Justice Department lawyer, Patrick Philbin, because of his role in raising concerns about the surveillance.

Also here: Cheney Blocks DOJ Official's Promotion: Document

MSNBC picks up the Nagin-for-Gov speculation

There's not much new information in here.. except for this bit that I must have missed.

This week, a local TV station reported that Nagin said he would meet with Democratic leaders to see if he'd be a viable candidate for governor. A state party spokeswoman said neither the party chairman nor executive director had spoken with Nagin about that as of Wednesday afternoon.

"That anti-marketing dollar"

It's bad, it's always been bad... but it's getting worse.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Will a veil be LIFTed?

The recent raid of a film company's offices may lead to the end of a Karl Rove-brokered truce between the city administration and the US Attorney's office... if the latest AZ post is to be believed, that is.

More from Adrastos

Update: More from Moldy City

Update: (June 7) Celcus has a pretty reasonable explanation here.

Evening film

Saints TE Mark Campbell put together a documentary film on the 2006 season. It debuted recently at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film recently appeared on the NFL Network... and tonight on the Yellow Blog

Light posting today

In the meantime, enjoy Azerbaijani Mickey!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

GOP Debate-Instant impressions

  • Tancredo: "Bi-lingual countries don't work"

  • Brownback promised to cure cancer

  • Huckabee: "We (Republicans) bungled Katrina"

I was all set to do a shot every time someone "moved forward" but no one did. I realized too late that if I had shot every time someone said "Ronald Reagan" I'd be passed out on the floor by now.

At least somebody is still talking about us

It's not the most inspired thought but John Edwards, at least, continues to have thoughts along these lines.

Edwards Calls For White House Advisor On New Orleans
At yesterday's Sojourner's forum, John Edwards called for a special White House advisor to be appointed to oversee New Orleans reconstruction. "The single biggest thing to be done is the president of the United States needs to put one person, a very high-level competent person in the White House, in charge of New Orleans," Edwards said. "And that person — the president should say to that person, 'I want you in my office every morning telling me what you did in New Orleans yesterday.' And the next day say, 'I want you in my office telling me what you did yesterday. I'm not interested in what you're going to do six months from now; I want to know what you did yesterday.'"

Here's your answer

Nagin isn't running for Governor to be Governor. He's running for Governor to be Cleo Fields.. or something like him.
Frankly, theories that Nagin would run as a favor to his Republican allies never made any sense, but it's easy to remember what a failed gubernatorial bid did for Cleo Fields. Or would have done, had Fields not been videotaped stuffing his pockets with money that Edwin Edwards handed him.

The case could easily be made that a failed run for governor could actually strengthen Nagin's position for future elections, including a possible run for Jefferson's seat.
That sounds about right to me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pat on the back

Many of you in and around the NOLA blogosphere are familiar with Kirsten Corby's little liberry-centric blog. Kirsten has spent the better part of these nearly two full post-Katrina years pursuing her master's degree in library science. A few weeks ago, she achieved fully minted liberrian status. Speaking as someone who has had a few harrowing starts and stops with grad-school, I can appreciate the commitment necessary to follow such a course through to its conclusion. What I'm saying is, way to go, Kirsten! We know you didn't really kill Mike the Tiger... or at least that's what we're telling the authorities.

Damaged Goods

Meachem already looks like a problem


On site reporters are telling us that there is a fire at the historic Morris Downman Mansion on St Charles Ave. The house has been mentioned previously on the Yellow Blog during Carnival here.. and also here.

Update (June 5):
More from today's T-P

Dollar Bill Indictment May be coming

Apparently not official yet.

Two things:

1) I've been saying for quite a while that I don't think Jefferson will be indicted.. and if indicted not convicted. This will make me at least half wrong.

2) Maybe it's this potentially open seat and not the Governor's race that Nagin actually has his eyes on.

Now it's official. Jefferson indicted on 16 counts

More: In the "Scuttlebutt" section of this week's Gambit, Clancy Dubos points out that the cash Nagin has been raising cannot be applied to a federal campaign so that makes the Nagin-for-Congress scenario a bit more dubious.

Some thoughts on last night's Dem debate

Presidential debate circuses tend to come in two forms, neither of which is particularly excusable. But they are what we've come to expect and therefore must be grimly tolerated. The first form is driven by one or a panel of celebrity-journalists who are there to 1) bring as much attention to themselves and their eminence as possible and 2) ask an unrelenting series of idiotic hypothetical questions as though we were playing some stupid house party game. "What would you do if...?" is, I'm sure, compelling television for a lot of people, but it doesn't really help us learn anything useful about the candidates.. or the issues for that matter.. beyond whatever version of them Wolf Blitzer prefers to fantasize about. "Raise your hand", if you're tired of these idiotic gimmicks.

The second format models itself after the ever-popular daytime talk show. Candidates sit in a semi-circle and answer questions posed, not by the smug asshole celebrity-journalists, but by a selection of smug asshole "likely voters" in the audience who just can't wait to get on TV and tell Joe Biden that they once owned a hair salon or some other pointless bullshit about their lives before they ask their pointless bullshit question. The candidate then gives a pointless bullshit answer.. but in an emotive way making sure to use the questioner's name a few times.. and, for bonus points, display some conversance with the questioner's personal details. "And you, know, Bob I also have (or once had) hair. That's quite a business to be in." (Big stupid smile)

The great thing about last night's event was that CNN decided to go with both formats. The debate came in two rounds. In the first round, the candidates fielded some serious "What would you do if..."s from Wolf Blitzer and a panel of local New Hampshire info-tainers. In the second, they reconvened for the Oprah-style format and competed to be the feeliest of the pain of audience questioners. In the middle, there was.... a Halftime Show!

That's right, a halftime show in the debate. During the intervening three minutes between the forums, debate viewers were treated to... half-time analysis from CNN talking heads. Anderson Cooper, Larry King.. and I think Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy the Greek provided analysis of who was leading, how someone else could come back. There were also scores and highlights from other debates that night. (I remember seeing something about how the Texas A&M debate team pulled off a stunning upset over Yale with a last minute point-of-order. Elsewhere, Less Filling slogged out a bloody victory over longtime rival Tastes Great.) Meanwhile, back in the debate hall, the candidates had all made their way to the edge of the platform where onlookers could approach and, for a few minutes, touch the candidate of their choice. I'm not sure what this spectacle says about us, but the half-time petting zoo should be a mandatory element of every debate for the remainder of this election season.

And now.. highlights from last night's game:

  • Hilary's strategy was to, as much as possible, minimize her opponents' "differences" with her on the war. At every opportunity, she made certain to say something like "Everyone on this stage wants to get out of Iraq..." in order to hopefully implicate everyone in her record of cowering before Bush, and voting for his war and even parroting his talking points.. which is something she continued to do last night. Hilary made two statements which could have come right out of the standard neo-con playbook. In the opening moments of the debate, while the very topic at hand was the excessive sloganeering in support of the war, she used a line about how terrorists "foist their way of life on us"... a line that derives directly from the fallacious "Clash of Civilizations" storyline so popular among war fantasists. Later, she asserted that the Iraqis have "failed to take advantage" of the "opportunity" presented to them by the invasion and destruction of their country. That's not just reptillian. It's downright Cheneyesque

  • Nearly as bad was Joe Biden who loudly proclaimed the neo-con talking point that voting to de-fund the war was somehow "endangering the troops." Actually, Biden loudly proclaimed just about everything he said last night... as though his handlers specifically instructed him to shout.

  • Why does Wolf hate Bill Richardson so much? Granted, he's a bit of a weasel, but no more so than anyone else up there. It just seemed like Blitzer took particular delight in cutting him off all night.

  • Mike Gravel had two golden moments last night. The first was this, "It doesn't mean (the other candidates are) bad people, it just means that they don't have moral judgment,.." The second came at the end of the debate when an audience member asked the candidates to describe their immediate priorities in their first 100 days in office. Gravel said, "Top priority is to turn to these people and say they're part of the leadership right now in the Congress. They could end the war if they want to --" In other words, Gravel's first priority would be... to continue to berate his opponents.

  • Although, Chris Dodd, while talking mostly about earmarks, muttered the word "Katrina" the Gulf Coast recovery was not a topic for discussion.

For the next debate, I'm bringing a bottle of tequila from which I will take one shot every time a person utters the phrase "moving forward." You may alert the paramedics in advance if you like.

Update: Today's Howler offers a similar take on Blitzer's stupid line of questioning.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Jeffrey's exhaustive list of things that are way way waaay past the time when they were interesting in any way whatsoever

1) Art, T-shirts, or knickknacks featuring the S&WB water meter design.

Gag me with a fleur-de-lis shaped spoon

T-P writer Tammy Nunez has a crush.

How are you enjoying your season so far?

Wasn't kidding about that drink
On the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, an area of low pressure that had drifted northward from the western Caribbean developed into the second named storm of 2007 - Tropical Storm Barry.

A funny

The Onion makes them sometimes

The Worst Television Show in History

America's voyeuristic fetishes are going to get someone killed someday.. oh look they already have.

Updated Stuff to Do

Anyone curious about Ed Blakely's life as an "accountability structure" may ask him about it during an otherwise pointless PR stunt bicycle tour of Carrollton on Sunday.

Happy Hurricaning

Today is the first day of that special time of year. I think I'll go to Pat O's this evening.

Meanwhile here are some happy fun thoughts to chew on from Moldy City as well as from Oyster.. whose birthday we missed apparently.

I haven't decided what color we're at yet.

Stuff to do