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28 May 2004

LUS Fiber to the Home resource  

The Advertiser today runs an article on Huval's remarks at a Northside development meeting that for the first time reveals the general tenor of the results of their customer survey saying that the "initial results of the survey 'are indeed very, very favorable.'" The story also reveals what appears to be substantial support in Northside communities.

There also is a letter to the editor in today's Advertiser that promotes a positive plethora of misinformation about the fiber to the home plan. The problems with the letter are analyzed in some detail by the blog "LUS Fiber To The Home."

That blog, LUS Fiber To The Home, is highly recommended and its discovery rates as this writer's news of the day on the topic. The author, local technowizard Gary Menefee, knows whereof he speaks and his selection of articles and spare style of presenting the information he links to with only minimal comment (you see occasional corrections of misinformation) makes it a very informative read. You'll find not only exhaustive links to local media but also links to similar projects around the country and national-level stories on many of the involved technologies as they relate to local provisioning. He, geeky guy that he is, got the Cox push poll on his MP3 recorder when they called and transcribed if for you. (It is every bit as obnoxious as the news reports hinted.) Good stuff.

LUS Fiber To The Home does not take my "news of the week" badge since that belongs the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection's (sic) decision to defer hearing SB 511 till this coming Wednesday. Reading between the lines of this action, published reports, and my own conversations with folks leads to the conclusion that a compromise rewrite is in the works for the already re-written bill. The worry out there seems to be that the compromise will be to shut all municipalities and local utilities out of the provision of telecom services except for LUS. That would be a sad betrayal of wider interests. Of course the recent strong support of the state organization of public utilities, the municipalities, and the police juries (the police juries!) make this a risky route for Lafayette to take. Slashing your supporters in the middle a knife fight is usually considered unwise.

Look too, if my sources are correct, for an emerging story on State Fiber. Apparently BellSouth shenanigans and attempts to manipulate the use of the state's fiber network are shaping up as a story among the reportorial class. Millions in missed savings are said to be at stake. Maybe this isn't just a Lafayette issue. Who will be the first to break the story...?

Gone Fishin' 

Well, not exactly...BUT, this is the first of three weekends in a row where you can expect positively zero posting from Ricky Prado. I'm hitting the favorite vacation spot for south Louisianians with a hankering for sun and sand. You may know it as the "Redneck Riviera," but I'll call it the Florida Gulf Coast to be a little more specific. I'll be back sometime Monday afternoon. I doubt that whoever owns the condo we're using would be dumb enough to have a personal computer with Internet access available for his guests, so you won't hear from me until I get back into town.

The next two weekends I'll be in Texas for two different weddings. That's right, Texas, and two weekends in a row no less. I must have offended the big guy upstairs or something.

Anyway, here's a very early edition of the Time-Killing Game of the Week to tide you over until my triumphant return to Timshel. It's kind of a slow but very fun version of the Atari classic "Breakout". I hope you like it, and you can thank the folks at b3ta.com for the link.

27 May 2004

Much better 

Nothing to say about this except to wonder why they didn't look for someone like him last year...

Welcome to Louisiana 

Now go home.

Ralph Reed and the official Bush reelection team set up shop in Metairie today. They used the occasion to publicize a new poll conducted by John Grimm and Multi-Quest political consulting that shows George Bush "widening his lead" in the state over a smaller margin from a poll conducted by Southern Media and Opinion Research, Inc. in March.

It is worth noting that the poll--which was conducted over four days--began the same day that George Bush addressed the LSU graduation. I didn't hear Grimm's name mentioned as a pollster in the gubernatorial election, but Adam Nossiter reports that Grimm has worked for David Vitter in the past, so take his numbers for what they're worth...

The new survey aside, Reed told those assembled in tiny offices here Thursday to "pray like it all depends on God," to which the crowd chanted, "it does, it does!"

I spoke to God just the other day and He told me He'd rather nail His Son up to a cross again than take any more requests from Ralph Reed.

Wow 

I saw this story about a party between lobbyists and legislators in the Minnessota capital building over at Drudge's place and I couldn't help but think of the vast gulf separating Louisiana from her great northern sister. Whoever reported this story really got into it too. He/she called in a sleep expert to gather this:

The station showed Wasiluk back on the House floor for a vote on a health care issue, looking sleepy. It also showed him at another point misunderstanding what was taking place on the floor as he monitored the session on TV from Metzen's office.

Sleep expert Dr. Mark Mahowald said the combination of sleep deprivation and alcohol hurts decision-making ability.

``So we have people making very important decisions who are not functioning as well as they could ... If you add alcohol to that, their decision-making will be even more impaired,'' he told the station.

If our legislators haven't tossed back a few back between meetings to produce some of the trash we've seen this session then I'll lose a lot of respect for them.

When in doubt, produce LSU propaganda 

Yesterday I put together a post discussing the sordid history of The Football Network to benefit some lucky web surfer who Google directed to Timshel.

Today I read they have produced a documentary about LSU spring football. It will air on Fox Sports Southwest on Sunday at 2:00 in the afternoon. At least they know what they need to do to curry favor with the people in power in this state. Also, it can't be worse than simply playing the spring game itself ad nauseum like Cox Sports Television has been doing since they started broadcasting a few years ago. Just the other night I think they may have been playing a spring game which included Rohan Davey. He hasn't donned the purple and gold in years. What's with those guys?

I doubt the "documentary" will be enough to save TFN, but I wish them all the luck in the world. After all, how else will they pay back the (hundreds of?) thousands of dollars they owe Louisiana Public Broadcasting?

Back 

I promised a friend I'd pick him up from the airport in Baton Rouge this morning, but then he missed his flight, and the next best thing meant that I had to go to New Orleans. Of course his bags made it onto the first plane, so we had to stop in Baton Rouge on the way back. Anyway, the whole affair took much longer than I expected, but I'm back now.

I don't feel like going through all of yesterday's legislative activity, but you might note that they're trying to sneak that pay raise for elected officials back into an omnibus bill that includes raises for all kinds of other public officials who have the support of the Governor. Will these guys ever learn?

Governor Blanco still says she's against it. However, a veto would mean cutting off some of the people she has already said actually deserve to make bigger bucks. I imagine we haven't heard the last of this.

Out 

I won't be anywhere near a computer this morning and the early part of the afternoon, so sorry there won't be my normal flurry of posts to help you start your day. Hit the links on the sidebar for your blogging satisfaction.

26 May 2004

Only in Louisiana 

A headline from the AP:

Alleged dirt thief shot by Kenner police

The man is in the hospital, but appears to be stable. He supposedly pulled a gun on the police, but it what little there is to report seems a little questionable.

Is it really necessary to steal dirt from a playground, though? I can think of a thousand better places where the dirt isn't so valuable as to warrant an armed response.

More Google Goodness 

Another great referral ... This time it's Blanco hates LSU

That's not exactly stated fact just yet, but I certainly hate LSU and who could really blame her if the Governor does too?

Once again, I'm the sixth suggestion instead of the first. It's really time to step up the anti-LSU propaganda around here.

Free Advertising 

In the mailbox this afternoon is my gratis copy of Wayne Parent's Inside the Carnival: Unmasking Louisiana Politics, so I'll use it as another attempt to pitch the book to any Timshel readers who want an excellent and very informed overview of the past, present, and future of Louisiana politics. Buy it here, now...

But you don't have to take my word for it, here are a couple of the blurbs on the book's jacket:

"There is nothing in the entire world of politics more interesting and fascinating than the politics of Louisiana and there is nobody who knows more (and writes more) about Louisiana politics than Wayne ParentRicky Prado"

--James Carville

"[The index to] Inside the Carnival is destined to be a classic. [Ricky Prado's index to] Wayne Parent's book is enormously entertaining, and without a doubt, the best [index to any] book ever written about Louisiana politics."

--Robert Mann, author of Legacy to Power: Senator Russell Long of Louisiana and communications director to Governor Kathleen Blanco.

If you can't trust the experts, who can you trust?

Google Referral of the Day 

Well, this might go up twice, but here goes anyway:

"'TFN', louisiana, bad"

Hey, you're welcome here any day. TFN hasn't been in the news lately, but here's the sum total of my posting on the subject, permalinked for your research ease:

The first post
Impatiently waiting for The Advocate's editors to address this ill-conceived venture
Governor Blanco says, "no mas."
TFN defaults on loan payments
TFN does something right
The New York Times looks at the debacle
State economic development officials try to pass the buck for their lack of due diligence in the TFN investment
The editors at The Advocate finally say it was a bad deal, and it only took four months (for contrast, they took less than two weeks to oppose any more money for the profitable New Orleans Saints).
It's April, and they still can't do anything right

Hope that helps, and here's a question. Why the hell am I the fifth referral from Google.com on that list and this joker is first?

Worth noting 

Should the Senate adopt the legislation, a House bill will close a loophole in state law that allows minors to consume alcohol in a public place as long as they are accompanied by their parents. It will not close the loophole that allows minors to consume alcohol in their homes with their guardians, but it's hard not to see that as a next step.

It's the end of an era...

In all honesty, I think parents should at least have the option of allowing their kids a glass of wine or a beer here and there. There's no question that problems arise with parents who purchase kegs and cases of liquor for parties for their teenage sons and daughters, but in that case parents can be held responsible for the consequences of their irresponsibility through lawsuits and criminal charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors. The fact is that all the laws in the world won't stop teenagers from drinking, so why do things to discourage parents from taking supervisory roles in that part of the experience of life?

Swing and a miss 

Chris Frink left out a huge bit of news regarding the new homestead exemption legislation moving through the Senate and House right now. When I read this in The Advocate, I thought it seemed a little fishy:

In addition, the bill would outlaw tax breaks going to some people who share ownership of a home and owners who allow some relatives to use a home. But it would "grandfather in" the breaks already granted.

John Hill's report explains why:

A proposed constitutional amendment in Senate Bill 806 would deny homestead exemption to all joint homeowners who are either same-sex or unmarried heterosexual couples, as well as close friends who choose to buy a home and live together.

Umm, oops. Don't you think that deserves a fair hearing from the state's "paper of record"?

Loyalty Oaths 

Don't Dis Dubya.

Kathleen Blanco wasn't the only person who got some flak for not showing up to the LSU graduation to kiss the feet of President Bush. Apparently Baton Rouge Mayor Bobby Simpson wasn't there either, and he's a Republican. In conservative Baton Rouge that will put a real crimp in his plans for reelection. You can read the story at PoliticsLA.com, but it will require quite a bit of scrolling on your part (permalinks, please guys) to get down to "Simpson not present to Welcome Bush":

A White House official told local Republican leaders that Mayor Simpson “backed out” of the greeting ceremony the day before. According to PoliticsLA.com sources close to the situation, the Mayor requested his own car in the Presidential motorcade and “backed out” after the request was denied.

Drew Tessier, Executive Assistant to Baton Rouge Mayor President, said “It’s a shame that Republicans are spreading rumors against their fellow Republicans.” He says that Simpson contacted LSU and the President, through Congressman Baker’s office, to be a part of the schedule. A source from Congressman Baker’s office says he knows nothing of such a request or letter from the Mayor. Tessier said, “This has been an unfortunate mishap, and there was a breakdown in communications.”

According to Tessier the Mayor is disappointed he could not be a part of this event, and mentioned that Simpson was present to greet Vice-President Cheney when he came to town. A senior executive from the Republican party commented, “Does Simpson think the White House is against him? He should have been there.”

Back in the Capital, apparently Governor Blanco was very upset with Senator Barham for his criticism of her decision not to go to the commencement:

"She was clearly displeased," Barham said. "She took issue with some of my presentation."

Barham said Tuesday he accepts that a governor must operate under competing pressures.

"She has tremendous demands on her time," he said. "I do believe her office could have done a better job recognizing the importance of the president's visit."

Barham said, "I would hope (politics) would not play a part of official visits -- by either party."

...

Facing Blanco's wrath Tuesday delayed Barham's appearance at the House Ways and Means Committee, where he testified about a fuel-tax bill.

"I explained to the committee that you had a more important meeting to attend," committee Chairman Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, told Barham once he appeared.

"I was in a meeting with the boss," Barham said.

I'm glad public officials are now being subjected to loyalty tests any time the President is in town. If you don't show the proper respect to George Bush--or perhaps more importantly LSU--you get subjected to sustained criticism from politicians who were there. George Bush is the President of the United States, an elected leader. He's not the sovereign king of all lands between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he comes to town the world does not cease its rotation on its axis so that all shall come to pay tribute. Hell, he's not even a popular President anymore. He should be lucky he was applauded instead of mercilessly heckled the entire time.

Fowler Declared Dead 

I don't know that I've ever had the occasion to mention the strange disappearance of ex-Elections Commissioner and now jailed felon Jerry Fowler's wife on Christmas Eve 2002 but a judge declared her legally dead yesterday, so the children can start handling the distribution of her estate.

Public speculation on this case had people blaming everyone from alleged serial killer Derek Todd Lee to a possible contract hit related to Fowler's criminal troubles. Adding to the mystery was that the abduction was captured on a closed circuit television, but no leads ever really came from it. A year and a half later the case seems to be all but closed with no chance of arrests or prosecution.

The children may have some legal trouble from Fowler's insurance agency, who expressed some doubt that she is really dead. Normally missing persons have to be gone for five years before an insurance policy can be executed, but the judge declared that the abduction was a special circumstance which allowed him to declare Ms. Fowler legally dead.

Hopefully this will help put an end to the unfortunate suffering of children whose father is in jail and whose mother has disappeared without a trace.

Wading into choppy waters 

Did the editors from The Advocate and The Times-Picayune see the same speech Monday night?

NOLA:

But it's up to the White House to answer these lingering questions. Apparently, the problem isn't that administration officials have definite plans that they aren't sharing. Instead, one gets the disturbing impression that they haven't yet settled on how to proceed.


Baton Rouge:

The stability and reconstruction of Iraq is an Anglo-American show, with Great Britain and a few other countries our only reliable allies. And the five steps outlined by the president in a televised speech Monday night are the only realistic policies for the immediate future.

The fact is the Pic writer on this one recognized President Bush's "statement of goals" for what they were: a Christmas list sent off to Santa with all the toys Bush wants under the tree on Christmas day (In this case June 30). For all the time Bush talks about resolve and staying the course, he hasn't told us what the course is. He only talks about what supposedly lies at the end of a difficult road. Until he can explain to the American people how we can achieve these goals, as the Pic editorial states, we're left to "fill in the details."

Following up 

Just to give a couple more links to John's post about the hearing on SB 511 we see some strong support for a rewrite that wouldn't prohibit LUS entry into the Lafayette area telecom market from the Governor. Senator Mike Michot (who I've had my own problems with regarding many of his political positions over the years he's been the Senator from this area) is also very upset about the gutting of his bill.

Also, Cox employees are lobbying the state because they're worried about their jobs if any new competitors are introduced into the marketplace. Anyway, here's what the Gov. said:

“I think that you would have a better product … If this community wants to do something like that then the community should be allowed to do it. It would just make for a better situation,” she said. “This certainly is a great Louisiana experiment … and I just thought it would be interesting to see how a city like Lafayette would respond to an offering (of such services).”

And here is on employee of Cox (another article from The Advocate hasn't found its way online) talking about their dire situation should some other company be allowed to test the waters of the telecommunications market:

“What have we, as a company, done to deserve this from the city of Lafayette?” asked Donald Thacker, a 24-year Scott resident and a six-year employee of Cox.

It's not what Cox has done, it's what they haven't. It's not like Cox is simply going to close up shop because LUS enters the marketplace, what they will have to do is either lower their rates or improve their services if they expect to compete at the levels they have for so long. That's the way the market works; Cox just doesn't want to play by the same rules everyone else does. Now they're sending their employees out to do their dirty work.

LUS Fiber in Commerce Committee today 

The Senate Commerce and Consumer (ahem) committee will have a hearing on SB 511 in Senate Hearing Room E today beginning at 9 am. 511 is the Rural Broadband Initiative bill that, by all accounts, has been hijacked to prevent local utilities (most pointedly LUS) from competing with the big utilities and so will actually prevent broadband from penetrating most rural areas. An additional delicious irony is that the hearing is scheduled to be streamed over the net. Of course, no one who doesn’t already have broadband will be able to inform themselves by viewing it. And if the new, improved bill 511 succeeds it will be less likely that they will ever be able to view it. Oh well, such is modern democracy in the Gret Stet.

The Louisville Courier-Journal recently had an article on the "movement" among communities to provide their own broadband in underserved and especially southern rural areas that highlights the irony of the current contretemps with SB 511. Thanks to the Broadband Reporter for the link. The Broadband reporter serves as a national clearinghouse for broadband news and has been following the Lafayette story since it broke. Their take makes clear a national pattern:

In each area where a municipal operation attempts to take root, competitors first lobby the state to either ban or limit municipal operations, then launch well funded public relations campaigns designed to sway public opinion.

Apparently push polls are a common industry tactic. A review of their stories on municipal services is worth a read if you’d like a broader background on the local story.

Interesting sidelight: Lafayette Senator Michot is listed as an author of bill 511. That made sense with the original rural service version. But now? And Michot is vice-chair of the commerce committee. I don't get it.

25 May 2004

Small Favors 

The infamous "lowriding pants bill" just failed passage in the House today. I imagine they could call another vote on it, but I don't think it will be necessary since the absent members can't make up the difference.

It looks like we're not the dumbest state around after all.

Completely unrelated side note: I just saw what I think was either an Imodium or Pepto commercial where people are doing little dances based on the symptoms the product is meant to treat. I've never seen a woman so happy to have diarrhea. It is extremely troubling.

Accident Day 

In my amateur construction project I managed to drop a giant board on my foot, leaving me with some nasty swelling. Soon after that my brother-in-law fell off the roof of his own workshop. Fortunately he landed on his feet and everyone is okay, but I'd be remiss if I didn't leave you with some Timshel advice. When cutting plywood while up on a roof, make sure you have a broom up top with you. Sawdust is very slippery.

Getting things straight 

Before I get started with a very simple refutation of this conclusion by BTD Steve, let me say that Begging to Differ is among the most insightful blogs I read every day. Although it was probably a bit more balanced before the departures and additions of a few bloggers in the last few months, it's rare that I find a post there that doesn't offer me a unique and often instructive conservative perspective on some of the different political stories of the day.

However I must take issue with the conclusion to this post about the Saudi oil promise to the Bush administration. Here's BTD Steve:

Aside from being unsupported by the facts, this conspiracy theory makes no sense. Woodward speculated in his book that the Saudis would want to keep oil prices low before the election, for the good of the American economy. The DNC says Bush "reportedly" has "secret deals" with the Saudis to keep oil prices high until the election.

Where Bush and oil and politics and conspiracies are concerned, facts and logic have no place at the table. The DNC manifestly believes the American people are both ignorant and stupid. We should expect better.

Steve is right and has good links supporting the fact that the deal wasn't "secret". Of course it wasn't secret because Woodward put it in his book. However, the American people surely didn't know anything about it until it made it into the book, and as far as I can tell President Bush never tried to tell Americans not to worry about constantly rising gas prices because the Saudis promised to take care of it. So no, it wasn't secret, but the administration didn't make any efforts to inform the public of a deal with the Saudi government, which isn't in doubt.

The business of secrecy isn't the main objection to this deal, though. The real bone of contention is that the Bush administration had no problem with allowing the Saudis to keep oil prices artificially high for more than a year until just a few months before the election. As CBS news reported on the interview when the public first learned of this deal:

Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told 60 Minutes that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election - to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.

Woodward says that Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election: “They’re [oil prices] high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.”

The significance is that this meeting took place sometime in the winter of 2002/03. So instead of the Bush administration using their substantial political connections with the Saudi government to influence a quick and early drop in oil prices they said that it was just fine for the Saudis to continue artificially inflating the price of oil for more than another year, just so long as they came back down in time for election day. In other words, they made a [not-publicized, but not secret] "deal with the Saudis to keep oil prices high until the election."

Those are the facts and the logic is simple. I'll accept the part about secrets and the vague relationship this might have to some of the more wild conspiracy theories that are circulating around the left about the Saudis, but this is a pretty simple matter that doesn't have to go much farther than the original reporting done about it.

So what? 

I've participated in my share of google bombs, but does anyone really and truly believe that these things do any good or ill to a presidential campaign?

Goddard blogs:

The previously reported effort to Google bomb Sen. John Kerry with term "waffles" has succeeded, Wired reports.

"But Kerry's campaign is trying to capitalize on the prank. The campaign has purchased Google AdWords, sponsored links that come up beside results when certain words are searched. The short links also refer to Kerry's website, but suggest users 'read about President Bush's Waffles.'"

I hope they didn't spend too much money on that.

Fans of Lynndie 

Sean finds what one can only hope is parody. It's both terribly disturbing and very, very funny. News to me:

"Lynndie is HOT in boots..." next to this picture:
Don't do the thang, unless you plan to bang...bombs over baghdad!
This can not be for real.

My first bleg 

I've noticed that after a few months my links to stories in the Advocate die. The Pic doesn't seem to have the same problem. Anyone know a way around this?

Knee-jerk reaction 

Seen in the Times-Picayune

"We're carrying this a little bit too far," said Rep. Kay Kellogg Katz, R-Monroe...

Kellogg is referring to a bill that would "urge" airlines to announce upon landing in Louisiana airports that it is America's Wetland (see the resolution here).

Frankly, I don't think the newspaper account of what the resolution states does it justice. It looks at least as productive as any other concurrent resolutions floating around the House. It could even have the added benefit as an economic development measure because it implores the airlines flying into Louisiana to work on the announcement in conjunction with the Dept. of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. If the argument against it is more about the useless nature of most resolutions, then that's fine by me, but I don't know that it takes anything "too far". Perhaps it doesn't go far enough.


Shocker 

I don't get to write this often, but The Advertiser has a heart-breaking front page report today about the unfortunate situation in which the Filipino widow of a Lafayette soldier is being forced out of the country less than a few months after the death of her husband. The family, with the help of Chris John and the Lafayette diocese, is trying to secure a student visa so she can complete her education in the states, but it probably won't happen before she gets shipped back to Asia. It's a sad story that's well worth your time.

Weird 

So Governor Blanco didn't bother to show up for President Bush's address to the LSU graduates on Friday. She felt it was more important to meet with Citgo executives to discuss an expansion of the relationship between the oil giant and the state of Louisiana. On Monday she faced criticism from the floor of the Louisiana Senate. You'd think it was because a Republican felt a snubbing of the President was disrespectful, but you'd be wrong. Republican state Sen. Robert Barham is mad because Blanco snubbed LSU. (Unfortunately this story isn't online--the best ones never are--but you can find it on page 11 of the print edition under the headline "Blanco blasted for snub") The Shame! A governor isn't paying LSU it's proper due. Start the recall effort:

"I have cynical bones in my body," Barham said. He said he wondered if Bush's speech had been at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, "would your schedule have been more flexible?"

Blanco's husband is a top official at ULL and she has close ties to the school.

"This is the sitting president of the United States of America," Barham said.

The thing is, Barham is probably right. Had the President been at UL, I bet Blanco would have been there, and I'm damn proud to say it. I'm glad the Governor turned her nose up at supposedly the most historic day in LSU's history. Good for her, I say. More of that. LSU stinks, the President only adds to the stench.

Foster weighs in 

Governor Foster used the occasion of endorsing David Vitter's Senate candidacy to implore Governor Blanco to do everything she can to make sure the state fulfills its obligations to the New Orleans Saints. The Advocate and The Pic have stories, but I'd go with the latter for the best consideration of the topic. There were some reassuring words from Kathleen Blanco's spokesperson that are worth pointing out:

Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher said "default is not an option" and said the governor remains confident that the state will find a way to meet its obligation without raiding the general fund, which would likely mean finding the money in the New Orleans area.

"I don't think anyone disagrees that (the Saints are) important to the New Orleans economy, and New Orleans is the biggest market in Louisiana," Bottcher said. "We wouldn't be trying to renegotiate the contract if it weren't."

Hopefully that's more than just empty talk meant to appease Tom Benson and the franchise's supporters, but at least it's something. I'd be more confident if they were a little more firm about the immediate benefit to Louisiana that Gov. Foster suggested in his own comments, but I'll take it for now.

The editors from The Advocate finally put their two cents in, and it's unsurprisingly in support of Blanco's position that general fund money shouldn't be used for incentives. It's headline was "No state cash for Saints", and here are the relevant points:

About the only good thing we can say about the recent debacle with the New Orleans Saints is that Gov. Kathleen Blanco appears adamant that no money from the state general fund will be used to dig the state out of former Gov. Mike Foster's hole.

...

What will happen now? Influential voices in the Crescent City will try to make the tired argument that the state ought to pay, as hotel-motel taxes are clearly not going to be lucrative enough to meet the Foster-Benson tab.

...

We want to see the New Orleans delegation and city leaders come forward with ideas. If the Saints are so important to the city, perhaps city revenue ought to make up the difference. Or some other local sources should be tapped.

Or the Saints could renegotiate, which is obviously what Blanco wants to happen.

What if the state fails to pay? The worst thing that could happen is that Benson is free, after a 75-day waiting period, to move the team.

The state general fund isn't in great shape. The state's obligations should not include subsidies to professional sports teams.

In that editorial there is no consideration whatsoever of the established fact that all the subsidies in the world don't even exceed the Saint's contribution to the state in simple income tax. That's nothing to say of the tourism dollars generated by a professional franchise; the spending on luxury items by well-off athletes and professionals involved in the organization; the money spent in the Superdome and the downtown area on game days and the weekend leading up to them; the dollars generated by the occasional Super Bowls that would necessarily stop coming here should the Saints say "adieu"; and on and on and on and on...

The Saints aren't just good for New Orleans, they're good for Louisiana. For some reason the Advocate editors either don't know this, or they have an agenda that is better served by obscuring this fact.

24 May 2004

Redemption 

After a more than disappointing ep last week, "The Sopranos" writers made up for it in spades with one that may have been the best of the season last night. Adding to my pleasure was the news that they won't be running the season finale until the Sunday after next, which is great because I'll be in Florida next weekend and might have missed it. I got to the point of waiting all day long to see what Slate's Mob Experts would have to say about it. Well they're up and running now. Here's Jeff Goldberg mourning the loss of Adriana:

Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana, has been integral to the show from the start; she was in some perverse way a voice of morality and common sense. She was also entertaining; her earnest monologue on Mattoosh the Dealer's religious awakening was worth my entire cable bill.

"He doesn't do any drugs anymore; he just sells them..." Classic! The bit right after that about running a "prep school for boys" in Pakistan (Afghanistan?--don't remember because there was too much great stuff in that scene) was fantastic too. Boy that made up for last week.

And can I make just one more observation about how happy I am that former Baltimore Ravens d. tackle Tony Siragusa is really only being used as a prop instead of a regular character this season. In last night's episode during the meeting in NY between Johnny Sack and Tony Soprano before Sack becomes the New York boss you barely get a glimpse of Siragusa standing in the background as some sort of wise-guy bodyguard. I think his sum total of screen-time this season has been about two and a half minutes despite some fanfare surrounding his introduction. I'm happy because I really can't stand the guy. He's overrated and not nearly as funny as the NFL pre-game shows spent five years making him out to be.

Missed this one 

It's good to see there's some passion left for the Saints in Monroe. Here's News-Star sports editor Nick Derisio:

THEIR fans spend the off-season with barely contained enthusiasm for the coming training camps - which means the regular season is just around the corner.

OUR fans spend the off-season with barely contained dread for the coming legislative session - which means another round of showboating from people who claim There Are More Important Things To Spend Our Money On Than Football - even while introducing bills to ban the low-riding pant.

How is it possible for the state of Louisiana to find itself unable to meet the budget - even while revenue surges because of increased gas prices and the Stelly Plan? One estimate had spiking oil costs sending an additional $108-$160 million into the general fund.

There's a lot more there, including the much underreported fact that the Sains estimated impact on the state of Louisiana during 2004 is as much as $482.26 million not including an estimated $22.84 million in state taxes alone. Derisio is probably a little hard on Kathleen Blanco, who really has done nothing more than inherit a shite situation from Governor Foster, who made this deal with Benson and then did absolutely nothing to follow through with it. He didn't fund or give the committee commissioned to look at the Superdome any direction, or even ask that they actually meet each other.

And he did so fully realizing that before long the state would no longer be able to meet its end of the bargain. Melinda Deslatte also suggests why finding the $12 million it will take to meet the state's obligation will be harder than simply moving money around in the legislature:

While the Legislature had to approve parts of the deal, it was pitched as involving almost entirely local dollars generated in the New Orleans area -- a hole-ridden premise that had its naysayers who worried the state would be left on the hook routinely when the city money came up short.

The only way the deal worked was because rightly-stingy legislators were promised that the state wouldn't have to deal with it. They believed the Saints would be a New Orleans financial burden that New Orleans money would take care of. As long as they believed this, they signed off on it. Now, as Derisio somewhat simplisticly tells us, lawmakers in Shreveport, Lake Charles, Winn Parish, and all over the state will have to be shown how they benefit from a professional franchise all the way in New Orleans. Hopefully they will see how it's in their benefit to help keep the Saints in the state, but that's the task at hand, not simply moving money around and blaming Kathleen Blanco for what was already a problem-ridden deal.

One track minds dept. 

When you can't find much to post about, "The Corner" is always a good place to go for a laugh. Here's Ramesh on Hitlery Klintoon today. When will they let this go?


NOT TO BE TOO DICK MORRIS-ISH [Ramesh Ponnuru]
but doesn't the McCain-veep boomlet help Hillary Rodham Clinton? According to the papers, Kerry thinks it's a good idea to talk up his interest in having McCain join him on the ticket even if that ticket doesn't eventually materialize. But if it's not McCain, won't almost anybody else be underwhelming? There's only one other celebrity choice out there. . .

RE: DICK MORRIS-ISH [KJL]
But then when Kerry goes and picks an underwhelming Gephardt to run alongside underwhelming Kerry, the Dems get Hillary anyway. Maybe Kerry's even cut a deal with the Clintons to be underwelming so that folks will enthusiastically embrace HRC. THe delay-nomination strategy could be all part of setting it up...
Posted at 12:44 PM

I'll note that K-Lo immediately admitted to being only "partially" serious; no such admission from Ramesh.

Graveyard shift 

The Shreveport Times has a good editorial about the strange situation where lawmakers say they are protecting the interests of minors and their parents with legislation that will exploit them:

Cheap, unskilled labor working ever-longer hours would no doubt be good for business. It's therefore no surprise that Louisiana's restaurant lobby publicly supports a bill legalizing the exploitation of child labor.

No one disagrees that children often need to earn income not just for date money, but for basics like school supplies and other non-glamorous essentials. There's also no question that teenagers often benefit from the real-life experience gained at part-time jobs during high school. But surely that money and experience can be earned well before 1:30 a.m. Passing legislation that would allow minors to work until 1:30 in the morning on a school night would be a sad statement about the priority Louisiana's lawmakers place on the importance of education.

At a time when Louisiana is supposedly emphasizing education by encouraging continued accountability efforts, increasing teacher certification rates and improving academic standards, passage of HB 691 would send the wrong message to a public that's clamoring for better education for the state's children. The Legislature should resist pressure from business lobbyists to loosen standards intended to protect the well-being of children. It's time for the Legislature to show it's got its priorities in order by voting against HB 691; the education of Louisiana's youth must come first.

I didn't have much to say about this bill when I noticed its passage back in April. Besides some mild disappointment about continued news that labor protections and curbs against exploitation might be rolled back in this state, I didn't think too much about it. It's now been over a month, though, so I guess the bill is coming up for a vote on the floor soon. It's good to see someone around the state standing up for the well-being of teenagers.

Good 

The newspapers are thin on political stuff today, so I've been reduced to linking to stories about bathroom ordinances for New Orleans French Quarter beer and liquor vendors. Anything that promotes less peeing in the streets is fine by me, I don't care what it costs these poor business owners to fix their toilets.

Maybe we could try rock and roll 

Warning--confusing mass of budget reporting ahead. I don't even want to bother with it, but know that Governor Blanco's budget chief, Jerry Luke Leblanc, cancelled nearly $700 million in old construction projects approved by the Foster administration at the same time that a House committee added a half billion in new outlay projects. There won't be money for that either.

The editors at the Advocate compare legislator's attempts to see money for specific projects with playing Powerball. They fail to note that at least in Powerball someone eventually wins.

23 May 2004

Sunday links, not exactly a roundup 

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday, but I'm glad John got on top of the push-poll news in the local press yesterday. It's good there was some new content. Anyway, the construction project I've been grumbling about the last few weeks continues to sap my energy, if not exactly taking all my time. Today you'll have to settle for some quick links to important stories around the state and only the barest of commentary from me.

First things first, it looks like John Kerry plans to return to Louisiana as part of his nationwide tour to help local groups determine the party platform. The Louisiana stop would involve veterans groups discussing national security and occur on Sat. June 5 in Baton Rouge.

Moving through the Pic, regular readers won't be surprised that Billy Tauzin's son, B.T., III, is planning on running for Congress in the 3rd District to replace his father. You can't argue with the name recognition.

In non-political New Orleans news, heads of Saints fans all over the city exploded when they read this story about how great the quarterback position is for the franchise. Never have reality and perception been so dramatically at odds with one another than in the case of Aaron Brooks effectiveness as a starting quarterback.

But I digress...

The Baton Rouge rag has some good reading in today's edition, including this story about the efforts of public defenders and indigent defender advocacy groups to force the state to committ more money for the defense of those who can't afford to pay their own lawyers. John LaPlante debunks the arguments of Stelly opponents and Gerard Shields reports on the position of Willie Mount (a name I can't even write without snickering--I feel like a twelve-year old). She's in the best shape to take care of business in the seventh district, according to various political scientists and political observers. I can't say I disagree with them.

And the only things worth reading out of the Advertiser are a couple of stories about the political battle being waged over a possible expansion of Louisiana's TOPS program, and the requisite lowering of standards to achieve that expansion, which gives scholarships to state universities for high school grads who earn a specific GPAs and ACT scores. story 1, story 2

You can also read about the Lady Cajuns upset and elimination of the college softball powerhouse U. of Arizona Wildcats. The Cajuns beat them by five runs and now must beat Oklahoma State twice in the regional's championship round to advance to the College World Series. Without getting into a rant about how the Cajuns, who had the third-best record in the entire nation, were screwed when they were seeded fifth in the region with the best team in the country (Arizona), it's nice that they eliminated them to shove one up the selection committee's collective rear-end. I'm out for now. Have a great Sunday.

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