Friday, November 02, 2007

Vitty vitty bang bang 


Rekindling a scandal Sen. David Vitter hoped had faded, the attorney for the "D.C. Madam" asked Friday for a subpoena to force the Louisiana Republican to testify about his involvement in what prosecutors say was a high-priced prostitution ring.
Vitter has said little about his use of the escort service except that he committed a "very serious sin," and sought forgiveness from God and his family. At a press conference this summer, he also apologized to his constituents. The scandal dogged him for months, but his steadfast refusal to discuss it has helped to push it out of the spotlight.

Vitter again declined Friday to answer questions about his involvement or what he plans to do with the Palfrey subpoena.

"Sen. Vitter has been very honest and straightforward about this issue from his past," spokesman Joel DiGrado said.

No. He. Hasn't.


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Brimful of Asher 

Today on WIST 690am New Orleans radio talk show host Eric Asher made the following declaration in reference to these shady city garbage contracts:

I hope the mayor is listening right now... Ray Nagin, you are corrupt. YOU ARE CORRUPT... there I said it.

Title reference:

"Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, everybody needs a bosom..." or if a bosom isn't handy, a clear conscience is a plush alternative.

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LSU: You're welcome 

Just a pre-emptive courtesy to Tiger fans for Florida State's helpful upset victory over Boston College tomorrow night. (I'm assuming LSU can get by Bama.)

Bonus: Here's a video of Bama coach Nick Saban after his team was beaten by the painfully flawed FSU Seminoles* earlier this year. For some reason, during the post-game presser Saban was bent on discussing... Britney Spears.

Also, to those of you wondering "Can the Saints beat a good AFC team?" The answer is yes. The Jaguars play their second road game in a row with a new QB. They will not be +3 in takeaways as they were last week, and Brees, Bush and company will be sharp enough to win. Make it 24-10.

Thanks to Cait at Shrimp Po Boy... for the vid link.
* didja know? The Seminoles are the defending Emerald Nut Bowl Champions. I'm very proud.


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Quotes of the weak 

"I deeply regret that District Attorney Eddie Jordan was unable to complete his term in office successfully."

-- Rep. William Jefferson (who is, as Stephanie Grace notes "the subject of a wide-ranging federal indictment who has lost his committee assignments, but is holding on to his post for dear life. It may be strategically smart to stand trial as a member of Congress, not a private citizen. But in doing so, Jefferson is putting his constituents last, not first.")

"She acts like she's the only one not being bought and paid for."

-- City Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who was "visibly rattled" and "still fuming" minutes after a confrontation with Councilmember Shelley Midura.

"I wouldn't have taken the contract, because I wasn't qualified for it."

-- Former longtime Kenner City Councilmember Nick Baroni, when asked what he would do if he could "do it all over" again. Baroni and his son pled guilty to 13 counts of defrauding the U.S. Navy. However, even as he awaits sentencing on his federal conviction, Nick Baroni has not ruled out a return to politics.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

How about a new game? 

The Sewerage & Water Board, the Audubon Commission and the Board of Liquidation all voted to "roll back" millage rates so they will receive no net revenues from this year's reformed property tax assessments. The President of the Orleans Parish School Board has pledged to follow suit.

Also, the City Council is unanimously committed to holding the line on property tax revenues, and is poised to reject Mayor Nagin's suspicious proposal to "roll forward" property taxes two mills to fund "unspecified projects".

For two and a half years I've been militating for these progressive reforms-- fair assessments, lower millages and assessor consolidation. And we are starting to see the property tax structure becoming vastly more fair, and much more progressive (due to the homestead exemption and because previously under-assessed properties will now be more properly taxed).

Now, despite all the budgetary challenges in post-Federal Flood New Orleans, over the next year this city will become a more affordable place to purchase a home. I repeat: due to massive millage "roll backs", New Orleans will become a more affordable place to buy a home. As the Times Picayune has repeatedly noted, New Orleans' property tax structure is poised to become "competitive with suburban Jefferson Parish's rate for the first time in years" and "well below that of St. Tammany Parish". This is tremendously important good news, so without further ado let's review the various ways the nolablogosphere has celebrated and championed these positive developments:

*crickets chirping*


Why can't we champion this good news, which will help lure more people back to the city to rebuild? And as more people return and rebuild, this will help create a "virtuous cycle", whereby the city's tax burden can be spread ever more evenly and beneficially. Theoretically, that is. But such virtuous cycles won't occur without sustained civic pressure. With these assessor reforms, we are finally re-establishing the terms of the tax debate in a proper fashion. The property tax issue will no longer involve re-electing crony assessors who keep (some) properties underassessed so that many (rich Uptown) property-owners don't have a relatively fair stake in the city's schools and services. No, that's over. That river has run dry. As we move towards fairer assessments, the public focus will properly switch to the organizations that determine the city's millage rates, and this will mark the end of the old, cronified, ultra-provincial assessment games from the past. Isn't that worth working towards?

For those who have enjoyed wildly underassessed (and therefore subsidized) properties for years if not generations-- the game is over. I don't care if you live in a dry zip code or not, this is post-Federal Flood New Orleans we are living in, and it's time for you to step up. You've coasted along on your property tax welfare scheme for long enough-- your stake in city services has become relatively smaller and smaller as others have subsidized your property tax bills. And you've said nothing. You kept your trap shut. So, to everyone who has enjoyed these subsidies, listen up: the handouts have ended. New Orleanians no longer tolerate tax subsidies for the chronically underassessed, nor do we tolerate their crony assessor accomplices. In the past, we overlooked how so many gamed the system against the others-- sorta like a "cajun bingo" scam writ large, draining the pockets of oblivious new home-buyers throughout the city. And millage rates crept higher and higher to support this racket. Collectively, we must realize that this game was a dead end. (No wonder so many of the New Orleans elite didn't care if the public schools went to pot-- in relative terms, they were hardly paying for them anyway!)

So I say it's time to play a new game, New Orleans. The new game demands fairer assessments, because fairer assessments will help unify the city by refocusing attention away from individual property assessments, and upon the crappy city services and schools which are underwritten by community tax dollars. The underassessed crony enclaves in Uptown and other areas can't game the system anymore. They'll have to face the music, because their tax bills will no longer be effectively subsidized by everyone else. They're finally getting hit in the pocketbook, and you can bet that will get their attention.

That's the idea, anyway. Who's in for the new game?

This is why I get huffy-puffy when bloggers and others wailed about their property assessments, and were so quick to play the "I might lose my home" card. In my view, that sort of hysteria twisted the debate at a crucial time, and provided cover for the rich cronies who have gamed the city's tax system for decades. If you get overassessed-- challenge it. Otherwise, let's keep the pressure and focus on reforming the entire system so that the entire city can be more unified. Redirect some of your passion and outrage about assessments to the Boards and Councils that determine your true tax bill. Save the potent "I might lose my home" rhetoric for these people. In general, if someone is going to "lose their home", it's because of high millage rates, not because of wrongful assessments (which can be successfully appealed). So, let's work as one city to press for lasting reform-- let's discontinue the game where one individual property owner tries to protect his/her tax bill by making one individual gripe to one individual assessor about one individual assessment on one individual property. Instead, let's harness that same civic outrage and emotion directed at individual assessments, and unify and press together for fairer assessments citywide, and lower millages citywide, and improved services citywide.

Currently this hopeful scenario of fairer assessments and lower millages is on the way to becoming reality. Let's take a look at how we got here. Well, The Times Picayune deserves credit for publicizing the wildly unfair assessment practices. Mayor Nagin deserves credit for making the assessments more publicly accessible. Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans deserve credit for spearheading the assessor consolidation effort, and New Orleans voters deserve credit for passing the initiative. Importantly, the IQ ticket deserves credit for getting a reform assessor elected to District 6-- arguably the most important and pivotal district, especially after Katrina. (No thanks to the local media on that one.) District 6 IQ candidate Nancy Marshall deserves a lot of credit for following through on her promises, and making Uptown assessments vastly more fair in only one year. I believe that without Marshall's election and without her robust re-assessments in Uptown, the other district assessors would not have followed suit to the degree that they did.

Unfortunately, the nolablogosphere has given precious little credit to the people and organizations who are most responsible for these positive developments. Instead, there's been an abundance of skepticism in the nolablogosphere about why the IQ reforms wouldn't work, and about how the re-assessments were so inaccurate, and about why people will "lose their houses". Too often, the larger picture was obscured. A structural sea change has occurred with these reforms, and I believe there's tremendous potential opportunity here, especially when you compare it to the "system" under the previous regimes. Imagine if, say, crony assessor Al Coman had been elected instead of Marshall. If Coman had his way, we'd probably still have wildly underassessed homes on St. Charles, and millage rates would still be in the 170's (or higher), rather than being reduced down into the 130's. And new homebuyers like el stevo would be paying this high millage, and continue to subsidize the millionaires on Audubon Street (who wouldn't be complaining as they are now, I assure you). Now, because of the assessor reforms, new homebuyers like el stevo will get a sizable property tax cut, compared to the rate that they were paying, or the rate that they would've been paying otherwise.

Is this assessor reform movement perfect? Of course not. Many challenges remain, and continued vigilance will be necessary. But, finally, we are on the right track, and we can have a proper tax debate. Hopefully the nolablogosphere will be willing to assist in this effort. In my opinion, our current trajectory is so incomparably superior to the old system, that I'm baffled that more people aren't excited.

Naturally, we can't "trust" some of our public officials to do the right thing. We have to pressure them to do so. Now, however, we can properly leverage our outrage as a single community. We won't be lined up outside our district assessor's office as a collection of individuals with individual complaints. Instead, we will have the opportunity to line up at City Council and School Board millage meetings as a unified, collective force. We won't be a thousand separate individuals trying to cut a thousand different deals on a thousand different tax bills. Instead, we can be united as outraged city stakeholders when millage increases are proposed. We can exert our influence en masse on city-wide decision-making, rather than on a parcel of property here and a parcel there....

For example, we should all be pummeling Nagin over his attempt to increase taxes on the property owners of New Orleans. The mayor won't even disclose how he wants to use our precious tax dollars! Outrageous, right? At least I thought so. [Update: More here, via Jeffrey.]
And I also think you could make a lot of political hay with such an issue. It would be a good watercooler discussion to have, and a good talk-radio discussion. Nearly everyone would be affected or have an opinion on such a hot button issue... Yet, where's the "I might lose my home" contingent now? Where's the Nagin-bashers? Where's the Nagin-enabler bashers? Hell, didn't Rob Couhig tell us to vote for Nagin because Nagin "understands business"? Well, then, how do the Couhig Conservatives view Nagin's suspicious tax increase proposal? What is it for? Why is it needed? Why no transparency? Now that assessments are fairer, can't we all be properly incensed over this millage issue? Shouldn't we be demanding our City Council to reject such shady tax increases? Shouldn't we be demanding that our City Council At Large candidates promise to oppose such measures? ... etc.

Don't you think this new millage "game" is politically preferable to the old "assessment" game? Yes there are apparent risks, but... welcome to life. The potential upside here is pretty sweet, so let's not allow "the perfect" to be the enemy of "the good", because there is no "perfect" in New Orleans government, and the current "good" is already infinitely preferable to what we had before. Neither blind faith nor kneejerk skepticism is what we need right now. What we need is to see these reforms through, and create a fairer tax system that will channel rather than disperse civic discontent over higher taxes. We've seen that people will stand in line for hours to protect themselves from being overassessed. Couldn't we leverage this activism by getting people to focus on city-wide millage decisions rather than on their individual assessments? Wouldn't this be more effective, and encourage more accountability from our leaders?

Instead of playing a rigged, unfair assessment game at each other's expense, New Orleanians have the opportunity to establish and maintain a radically improved property tax system. Such a system will create more true "stakeholders" in the city's schools and services, and will make the local real estate market more liquid, and it will ultimately be a fairer and more progressive system for all. Let's all work together to make it so.

In the meantime, though, why not tell your friends in St. Tammany parish how much cheaper the property tax rates are becoming in New Orleans?

Update: Mominem has a recent post about his ongoing assessment experience.

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Editor B. describes the current debris removal scam.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I just wanna have something to do 

Ashley alerted me to Slimbolala's excellent Halloween graphic.

more here.


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From Scout, we find this Wapo review of a conservative Bush speechwriter who writes about the moral darkness in Vice President Cheney's office:

[Former Bush speechriter Michael Gerson] recounts meetings in which Cheney's office tried to kill proposals to increase... aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.

"The storm had also revealed a political and moral chasm in the Republican Party," he writes. "The president and I saw Katrina as an opportunity to open a debate on race and poverty. Anti-government Republicans saw Katrina as an opportunity to cut off medicine to old people. It confirmed the worst image of Republicans as the party of shriveled hearts."

In his famous Jackson Square speech, Bush told the nation that we had a "duty to confront" poverty (rooted in racial discrimination) with "bold action". That plainly didn't happen. No national debate on race or poverty ever occurred after Katrina. I guess the "anti-government Republicans" won the day. After the largest disaster in U.S. history, right wing bloggers suddenly mobilized to fight... "pork".

Bush's famous speech in Jackson square concluded with the following paragraphs, which I believe were penned by Michael Gerson:

These trials have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know – with the help of grace and one another. They remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death – a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with hands. And they remind us that we are tied together in this life, in this nation – and that the despair of any touches us all.
In this place, there is a custom for the funerals of jazz musicians. The funeral procession parades slowly through the streets, followed by a band playing a mournful dirge as it moves to the cemetery. Once the casket has been laid in place, the band breaks into a joyful “second line” – symbolizing the triumph of the spirit over death. Tonight the Gulf Coast is still coming through the dirge – yet we will live to see the second line.

As I said at the time

First, and foremost, the text of Bush's speech should not be filed away. It is a grand, soaring text with promises of enormous scope; Louisianans should remind the country about Bush's words at every opportunity.

And this is from a speech at a church on Sept 16, 2005:

Through prayer we look for ways to understand the arbitrary harm left by this storm, and the mystery of undeserved suffering. And in our search we're reminded that God's purposes are sometimes impossible to know here on Earth. Yet even as we're humbled by forces we cannot explain, we take comfort in the knowledge that no one is ever stranded beyond God's care. The Creator of wind and water is also the source of even a greater power -- a love that can redeem the worst tragedy, a love that is stronger than death.
In this hour of suffering, our nation is also mindful of the work ahead. Through this tragedy great duties have come to our nation. The destruction of this hurricane was beyond any human power to control, but the restoration of broken communities and disrupted lives now rests in our hands. And we accept this responsibility not as a burden or a chore, but as an opportunity to serve our fellow Americans, as they would do for us.

This task will measure our unity as a people. Americans of every race and religion were touched by this storm; yet some of the greatest hardship fell upon citizens already facing lives of struggle -- the elderly, the vulnerable, and the poor. And this poverty has roots in generations of segregation and discrimination that closed many doors of opportunity. As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality. Let us deliver new hope to communities that were suffering before the storm. As we rebuild homes and businesses, we will renew our promise as a land of equality and decency. And one day, Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but in character and justice.

Some edits have been made to this post for clarity.

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Another GOP closet sex freak gets blackmailed 


Here's a suggestion for Republicans: stop codifying your self hatred, and stop grandstanding about "proper" hetero-breeder relationships, and stop passing laws applying to the bedroom. That would be a decent start.

Sorry, but it's painfully clear that too many of you have serious issues when it comes to all things sexual. Your bigoted "values" are a joke because so many of your elected leaders are flaming hypocrites. And it's not just lowly state senators, but Republican Governors and U.S. Senators, too. I must ask the GOP values voters who pull the lever for these clowns: why is it that you see the gay ass sex agenda flourishing everywhere, except for when a Republican closet-case is asking for your vote? Especially during wartime, why isn't the potential for blackmail ever a concern for you?

And even if you truly subscribe to all that "family values" nonsense (which always seems to involve sex), shouldn't you be removing the phallus from your own jaundiced eye, before worrying about the speck in your brother's?

So many of you are so poisoned with self-hatred, so suffocated by ideology, so titillated by your own taboos... that the LAST thing you should be doing is monitoring other people's bedroom behavior. I shudder to think about the landscape of your sexual unconscious. It probably makes Zed's basement look like Wally World.

Yes, I know you're fascinated by all the non-missionary behavior that Leviticus forbids you to try. But please deal with your hang-ups on your own time. Leave us out of it.

Costumed in the family values agenda, these sexually repressed, conservative self-haters are the real freaks. Exhibit A is Senator David Vitter. Recently, the governing arm of the Louisiana GOP gave Vitter a standing ovation (as did his Congressional colleagues back in July). I wonder if RSCC member Keith Rush, an old David Dukkke crony, was among this approving throng?

Family values my ass.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vitter donor and former Kenner Councilman admit to defrauding the U.S. Navy 

As Senator David Vitter pays his $25,000 fine for violating federal election laws during his 2004 Senate campaign, he may also want to return any contributions he received from former Kenner City Councilman Nick Baroni and his son Keith Baroni.

See, after the Baronis pled innocent to defrauding the U.S. Navy out of $207,000, and after Nick Baroni held multiple fundraisers to pay for his legal defense, on the first day of trial-- whoops!-- the father and son had a sudden change of heart:

Nick Baroni, the government consultant and former Kenner City Council member, pleaded guilty today to defrauding the Navy out of $118,472.

Baroni, 63, and his son, Keith Baroni, 39, both admitted to 13 counts of mail fraud on the day their trial was scheduled to begin in U.S District Court in Greenbelt, Md. They also had been charged with making false claims: two counts for Nick Baroni, one for his son.

Prosecutors said they inflated the hours that their consulting firm, Urban Planning & Innovations Inc., worked on a Navy contract in 2001.
As part of a plea bargain, Keith Baroni, vice president of Urban Planning, has agreed to repay the government $57,896, prosecutors said. Nick Baroni, the company president, agreed to repay $60,576.

Thirteen counts of defrauding the Navy? Reprehensible!

Keith Baroni was one of the top 100 contributors to David Vitter's 2004 Senate campaign. I'm sure there are plenty of other connections between Keith and his father and Vitty-cent.

According to the T-P, Nick Baroni was a

major player in Kenner politics, having been a district council member and, later, an at-large member for 19 years. He resigned in 1995. He made a weak run for mayor [as a Republican] last year, taking 6 percent of the vote to finish fourth of five candidates.

Since leaving the council, he has had political appointments to the quasi-public Kenner Development Corp. board, the East Jefferson Levee District and the Louisiana Airport Authority.

Nick Baroni and recently re-elected Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard are good friends. I hear that, back in the day, Nick and Aaron made a spiritual pilgrimage to Medjogorge together, and stared into the sun, and came back as better people. Or something like that.

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DA Eddie Jordan resigned 

... there goes my idea for a Halloween costume.

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I blame Vitter 

Today's Wapo has a disturbing story about the hot new trend of "sexy" Halloween outfits for... preteens?

Halloween is big business. Americans are expected to spend upwards of $5 billion this year on candy, ghoulish decorations and costumes. And the hottest trend in costumes, retailers say, is sexy. And young.


The article describes preteen outfits with names like Playboy Racy Referee, Sexy Super Girl, Fairy-Licious Purrrfect Kitty Pre-Teen, French Maid and Sexy Cop.

Can I get a big WTF? How did this happen?

Joe Thaler, head of TransWorld Exhibits Inc., runs the annual Halloween Expo for big-box retailers. He said suggestive costumes for girls burst onto the scene about three years ago and the phenomenon is so big that he's had to create a separate fashion show. The costumes have since moved to the plus-size market for adult women and now come in teen and preteen versions. Even little girl costumes show more leg and tummy than they used to. "They're just good sellers," Thaler said.
Megan Smith, 16, perused the costumes at Party City with her father, Dan. She first tried on the Prisoner, a slinky spandex number with a little button at the throat and open chest like a '70s disco halter dress. She settled on Raggedy Ann, a blue mini dress so mini that the lacy underskirt barely dusts the bottom of the fanny.

No one does scary costumes anymore, Megan said. Blame that on the teen movie "Mean Girls," she said, quoting a line verbatim: "Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Her father laughed nervously. "They're all a little risque, and I don't like that," he said. "She'll be wearing shorts underneath."

Megan rolled her eyes.

I really don't blame whoremonger Vitter for all this scandalous prosti-teen and prosti-tot bullshit fashion (although I know that if this happened ten years ago he'd be blaming it on Bill Clinton).

Girls, Princess Leia is a perfectly good costume idea-- wait, just to clarify, I'm referring to Leia's white robes in "Episode IV: A New Hope" not the metal bikini from "Return of the Jedi".

Other wholesome but interesting costume suggestions are welcome.


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Fire, smoke on the horizon 

Obviously, the wildfires in California are a serious and newsworthy matter. After all, they claimed at least 7 lives and 2000 homes. The horrible house fire in Ocean Isle, NC, which killed 7 college students, is another tragic affair.

These stories reminded me of the Marrero house fire in 2005, that killed the following 11 members of a West Bank family:

Sabrina Wilson, 35; her five children, Latoya, 16, Sylvain, 14, Sterling, 12, Chelsea, 10, and Stephanie, 9; Sabrina Wilson's brother, Curtis Wilson, 42; her sister, Tiffany Wilson, 32; Latoya Wilson's two children, Naryh, 1, and Hyran, 6 months; and Sabrina Wilson's godchild, Quastella Senette, 3.

Sabrina Wilson's daughter, Ireone Wilson, escaped along with her boyfriend, Amos Hardy; their 7-month-old baby, Samiron; and Sabrina Wilson's brother, George Wilson.

Since it appears that State Senator Derrick Shepherd is under investigation for money laundering, perhaps it would be worthwhile to scrutinize his handling of the donations made to the surviving members of the Wilson family. Those donations were supposed to go to a non-profit that would build a new 4-bedroom home on Virgil St in Gretna. What am I implying, exactly? That it would not be unfruitful to carefully inspect all of Shepherd's dealings, even this one.

Speaking of homes in Gretna...

[Derrick] Shepherd raised eyebrows again in political circles when he bought a house in March in a tony golf course community outside his Senate district and began sprucing it up with a swimming pool, room addition, balcony and driveway.

The two-story brick house on Stonebridge's Lake Michel Court sits in unincorporated Gretna, well outside the 3rd District. The sale price was $450,000, and he took out a $417,000 mortgage that required him to establish the home as a principal residence within two months and for at least a year thereafter, according to documents filed with the Jefferson Parish clerk of court.

Nevertheless, he registered his candidacy for re-election under a modest brick house on Garden Road in Marrero. A school bus is usually parked on the property just off the West Bank Expressway. Shepherd's father works for the Jefferson Parish public schools as a bus driver.

Neighbors said they've seen Shepherd on and off in Stonebridge. He threw a pool party for friends this summer, said Phil Truxillo, Plaquemines Parish's emergency director, who lives on Lake Kristin Drive a few blocks away.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Unstriking Ommissions 

1. This in-depth Sunday T-P article on the many controversies surrounding Derrick Shepherd's meteoric political ascent fails to mention his grandstanding after the worst house fire in state history. (Nor does it mention Shepherd's handling of the donations after the story made national news-- which I believe needs further investigation).

2. In this T-P column, Drew Broach touts Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard's "brilliant" re-election strategy without crediting Broussard's top political consultant, Jim Carvin. Carvin is a genius who, quite simply, doesn't ever lose. As I've said before, "The first rule in LA politics should be to hire Jim Carvin as your consultant. Period. I don't care if he's 100 years old and is hospitalized with a stroke: hire him, if for nothing else than to make sure your opponents can't use him."

3. In his "Politics" column in the Gambit Weekly, Clancy Dubos claims that Attorney General candidate Royal Alexander "has some ethical challenges relating to a set of emails in which he appeared to be shaking down potential contributors". Dubos might've also mentioned that Royal Alexander had some ethical challenges relating to the scandalous Mark Foley emails, which he "royally" mishandled, in my view.

4. Today's glowing T-P profile of Timmy Teepell (Jindal's new Chief of Staff) omits any mention of Teepell's decade-long membership in the Council For National Policy, a group of several hundred far-right Christian conservatives that meet in secret a few times each year to discuss and coordinate policy.

5. Blogger C.B. Forgotston received not one but two mentions in the Sunday paper. In the briefing book section, the T-P referenced Forgotston's post about Jindal's so-called "mandate". For some unexplained reason, the T-P decided Forgotston's psephological calculations were worthy of special notice. Here's Forgotston's patented methodology: divide the total population in Louisiana (including minors, felons and other ineligibles) by the number of people who voted for Jindal, and claim that the real turnout in the Oct. 20 election was an abysmal 16.5 percent. (Then sniff something about "democracy".)

If memory serves, wasn't Forgotston a political adviser to John Treen's lackluster campaign against David Duke for a State Rep seat? I don't know the precise turnout for that pivotal election, but I do know two things: 1) after beating Treen, Duke immediately began selling Mein Kampf out of his district office, and 2) after running for U.S. Senate against a conservative Democrat, Duke ran for Governor and garnered about as many votes as Bobby "mandate" Jindal received ten days ago.

6. Far be it from me to omit mention of Maitri's appearance in a recent Wapo article on Jindal, and Ashley Morris' interview with the BBC discussing "wildfires and levee failures".
7. Updated: We Saw That reveals that one of Jindal's newly appointed Ethics Advisors, Kilpatrick Insurance CEO Virginia Shehee, was a major donor to his campaign.

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Just one time 

No way, Ray! As his team wins another World Series, Red Sawx fan Ray tells us how much better it is to want a championship than it is to have one.


I don't recall this sentiment pervading Fenway ten years ago when me and fellow Yankee fan Andy chanted "1918!", and received a complimentary beer bath from the hosers in the outfield bleachers.

As for the Saints, I dream of them streaking into the playoffs and somehow making it to the Super Bowl, and then beating the Patriots in the biggest upset since Broadway Joe beat the Colts (-17).

I want this town to melt in delirious euphoria over a World Championship, and celebrate it every day for a year-- New Orleans style. And afterwards, I promise you I won't regret trading in the hopeful fantasy for the reality.


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"We gotta lot of things on our minds" 

Around the time that I composed this post, I made a questionable parenting decision that affected my 3 year old.

Pearlgirl and I were driving around Uptown on a beautiful afternoon, and we were singing along to a CD mix that I often play when she's in the car. It has a selection of fun pop songs that we can both fully enjoy with carefree abandon. However, I have to switch to something else after track 8-- "Our House" by Madness-- because the subsequent songs on the mix are no longer family friendly.

But on that particular sunny day, Pearlgirl and I were feeling "real good", and I decided to keep playing the cd... "Why not?" I thought to myself. "How bad can these songs sound to a three year old, anyway? She won't understand the adult 'themes'." Let's keep rockin'!

Then the next song began to play. It was "Peaches" by the Stranglers. Yikes... but this could work, I rationalized. The double entendre will go over her head, and it has a slow groove, and rhyming chorus. She might like it. As it went along, though, I felt a slight wave of nausea coming on. Not only was I struggling with this song choice, but I was also struggling to remember exactly when the explicit content would arrive, so I could use the Buick's steering wheel mute feature (for perhaps the first time). But Pearlgirl was into it! She was listening attentively, and when the chorus rolled around for the 2nd time, she passionately sang along with the Stranglers, "Walking on the beaches, looking at the peaches". I joined her and tried to act like I was having fun, too, but it just didn't feel very proper, so after "Peaches" ended I skipped over to a different CD, this time the Beach Boys. ("Why'd he eat up all his corn, daddy?" "I don't know, pookie".)

Anyway, so, damn near two months pass without any apparent consequences from this parental blunder. Pearlgirl never heard the song again, and we never sang it again. I basically forgot about the episode, and concerned myself with my more recent parental errors.

Until yesterday, that is, when Pearlgirl spent the entire afternoon running around the house yelling/singing:


My wife Lovely was not amused.

I consoled myself, a bit, imagining that it could've been better or worse, depending on which other lyrics were stuck in the recesses of Pearlgirl's mind. Imagine if she were yell-singing these lines instead:

1) "Liberation for women, that's what I preach!!" (funny, cool)

2) "Is she trying to get outta that clitoris?" (deeply disturbing)

Perhaps two months from now I'll be in for another surprise.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

"The most sensational, incredible ending in all of Div III." 

After being one of the most successful and exciting college football teams from 1987-2000, it pains me to say that Florida State is now one of the most frustrating and boring teams in Div I-A. I'll always be a Seminoles fan, good or bad, win or lose. Luckily my alma mater, Trinity University (TX), is providing some excitement in Div III this year. Enjoy.

(Thx to Ashley Morris for the link.)

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Ethical implementers 

We Saw That reviews Gov-elect Bobby Jindal's two recent appointees to his Advisory Council on ethics reform. Needless to say, WST is unimpressed with Virginia Shehee (a life Insurance CEO), and Sean Reilly (COO of Lamar Advertising and LRA board member).

I am not so hard on Reilly (and know nothing about Shehee), so neither of these appointments struck me as troubling (or inspiring, for that matter). However, WST does highlight this paragraph from yesterday's T-P story, which merits some notice:

Reilly is president and chief operating officer of the outdoor division of Lamar Advertising, the Baton Rouge billboard giant that is the only Louisiana company on the NASDAQ 100. He is the second person with strong ties to the company to receive a high appointment in the Jindal team, following transition chairman Timmy Teepell, whose father, Tommy Teepell, is Lamar's chief marketing officer.

Ah yes, my main homeslice-- Timmy Teepell. He was Rep. Jindal's Chief of Staff, then Jindal's campaign manager, then Jindal's transition chairman, and will be Governor Jindal's chief of staff. And Jindal appoints Timmy's father's boss to an ethics board, too. That's cozy. Here's what the T-P had to say about Timmy's participation in the Jindal administration's "authority structure":

Teepell, 32, is a Baton Rouge native who was home-schooled in high school and never attended college. Jindal's spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said Teepell "self-taught himself through college."

Prior to joining Jindal, Teepell worked for the National Center for Home Education in Northern Virginia and was executive director of the Madison Project, a political action committee that raised money for conservative candidates. He also served as deputy political director of the Republican National Committee.

Teepell, a married father of six children, first signed on with Jindal in 2004, when he managed his initial run for the U.S. House. He then served as Jindal's chief of staff from 2005 until 2007, when he took over the governor's campaign.

And the AP had this quote:

Teepell said his job as chief of staff will be the role of the "the implementer."

"If he asks for my opinion and advice, I'll give it, but Bobby's a guy who is incredibly bright on policy, and he has an agenda of what he wants to accomplish," Teepell said. "He's the one who sets the vision, and I help achieve that."

Let the dragon-slaying begin.


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