04 June 2004

This Week in Fiber 

The fiber news of the week is, of course, Senate Bill 511 (Rural Broadband) being reported out of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee in a completely transformed state and its subsequent morping into SB 877 (The Local Government Fair Competition Act) on the floor of the senate.

As Ricky opines, it’s a mixed bag, The good news is that this “compromise” version of the bill no longer sets conditions that prevent LUS offering broadband services. The bad news is that it does set conditions that will drive the cost of providing such service up, and introduces regulatory nightmares that may well scare off smaller municipalities and utilities which do not have LUS’s gumption or technical expertise

The unhappy truth is that calling the new version a “compromise” is deliberately misleading. It is more accurately termed “less onerous.” In kindergarten we all learned that in a real compromise both sides give up something. Giving in to the bully if he deigns to only hit you once was not regarded as a compromise, at least not in kindergarten. Adults in our great state apparently have different standards; the community is said to have “compromised” when they agree to a pounding they think they can survive.

Only the communities give up anything in this bill; the large utilities give up exactly nothing. What could they give up you ask? Well one thing would be to enforce exactly the same restrictions on the large utilities that this bill will enforce on small, local ones. An example would be to disallow below cost pricing or supporting the provision of local servicing through profits in other parts of the enterprise. As the bill now stands Cox and BellSouth could engage in rapacious cost cutting in Lafayette in an attempt to trigger provisions of the bill that demand that the local enterprise be funded totally out of subscriber revenues. They could force the local “fund” into bankruptcy pretty quickly I suspect and the mere threat of doing so would drive the cost of bonds up. (I am no lawyer and have only read the bill once late at night. I have no idea what traps a really knowledgeable person might find. —But if you are such a person I would love to hear from you.)

But for a first response from someone whose been fighting these battles for a while and is really knowledgeable in the technical realm, I suggest reading Mike Stagg's posting to the digitalLouisiana list reproduced at Menefee’s Fiber to the Home blog. The Fiber to Home blog has also become a forum for folks to publish pro LUS letters to the editor that do not see the light of day at the Advertiser. Scroll down through the last week’s postings and you will find several including one from yours truly condemning the Advertiser’s biased coverage.

The next stage of the game will involve fights on the Senate floor and the battle for local opinion in Lafayette. Today's Advocate story nicely sets up the Senate fight when it reports on the conversation between “Noble” Ellington, our man Michot, and Heitmeyer from New Orleans. Heitmeyer threatens to add admendments that “protect taxpayers.” The Advocate notes that Heitmeyer is a “30 year employee of BellSouth” and that Ellington and Michot counter with the warning that Heitmeyer should avoid killing this bill since without it there would be no legislation “that prohibits a plan like LUS.” Maybe there will be some devious maneuvering here like adding a poison pill amendment that is designed to piss off the police jurors who have made clear their interest in assuring that they can continue to do as they please. Warnng: Classic Louisiana politics ahead. It should be interesting.

On the Lafayette PR front things are already heating up LUS ran full page ads in all the local print media this week—the Independent and the Times issues currently on the stands both contain the ad which devotes a fair amount of time to combating the smokescreen already thrown up by BellSouthCox. Also the Thursday's Advertiser reported that “A City-Parish Council briefing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to present the results of the LUS feasibility study and receive comments from the public.” That should be entertaining and the timing allows regular folks to attend. BellSouth president for Louisiana Bill Oliver cited in the Advertiser story today lets us know that the BellSouth’s strategy will be to push the whole thing into an expensive public referendum where they can deploy the FUD strategy (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that large technology corporations regularly use when faced with competition. (Well, he doesn’t actually say that but if you are willing to read between the lines as I habitually do…)

Speaking of Oliver, in reference to last weeks note about a ripening state fiber scandal, little birdies tell me that Oliver’s behavior as a member of the LSU board of Supervisors has not been above reproach. I scent a little blood in the water...

Finally, the Independent (who was first to the table with a full fiber story) headlines a story about other high tech ventures in Lafayette. (Sorry, it is not availble online, their site is skelatal.) Interesting reading and the write up left me dreaming about what the intersection of fast, cheap, universal fiber to the home and world class computing and simulation resources located inside the local loop could mean to technically adept folks in Lafayette. It would be nice to get past all the current BS and on to the really important stuff: dreaming about what we could all do, together and
separately, if we had all this stuff.

The Eyes of Texas are Upon Me 

Not quite yet, I guess, but they will be in a few hours. I'm about to kick out the door for another weekend away from headquarters. I may manage a couple of posts this weekend, but don't count on it. Hopefully I can count on John to keep you up to date on what happened in the legislature regarding the local LUS Fiber to the Home initiative this week. It looks like a mixed bag to me, but John has been on top of this from the beginning, so I'll leave it to him for the details.

Time Killing Game of the Week
Since I won't be here this afternoon, I may as well direct you to this week's "Harry Potter Year Three opens today" edition.

If you want something a little funnier, may I suggest this classic keep the ball in the air game. It's been tweaked a little bit, the music is disturbing, and it has a kitten's head in a Hitler disguise. You may freak out your coworkers if you decide to open this in the office.

03 June 2004

President Bush is a slave driver 

Okay, not quite bedtime yet. If this link from Taegan Goddard is any indication, it looks like the Bush campaign is charging more than just dollars to shake hands with the President:

In exchange for a color-coded pass allowing access to positions along the rope line or choice seats for some Bush speeches, volunteers must agree to spend an hour after the event working the phones or knocking on doors to register voters and sign up Bush activists. Often there's no chance of escape: advance people design the speech area in such a way that the exit leads directly into the room with waiting phones.

One day I would like to go on at length about the cult of personality that surrounds President Bush being the only straw left for his supporters to grasp at(the situation in Afghanistan is joke, Al Qeada remains strong, Osama is still at large, Iraq verges on disaster, the job market is a mess, there has been zero positive movement for people in need of health care or better education, and on and on and on, and oh yeah, nearly 3,000 innocent men and women died on his watch in New York and DC on September 11). They wax rhapsodic about his resolve and his principles. They go on endlessly about his supposed ability to connect to everyday Americans, and now it seems the only hands he shakes at his rallies are of the men and women who agree to run the phones for his campaign.

I once shook Al Gore's hand twice in the same night in Jackson Square, and I didn't have to do a thing for him except pull a lever.

But tonight is not the night for all that. I have to drive to Houston in the morning, and I need to hit the sack.

Why I Still Read Blogs 

Every time I begin to think Atrios has jumped the shark, he writes something like this and reminds why I ever bothered to start one of these things:

A few times I've declared the "age of wonk" is over. Aside from a bit of education, there isn't really much point in really discussing many policy issues in-depth. This administration obviously isn't interested. And, nor is the 4th estate.

They talk hair cuts and sighs, pretending this is what really matters to the Amurcans they have nothing but contempt for. The truth is, policy issues don't matter to them at all. The elite media - the blow-dried pancake makeup wearing ones on the nets and the Pravdas on the Hudson and Potomac - are almost entirely insulated from the economic policies of any administration. Hair cuts and sighs matter to them, the rest of it doesn't. That would be fine if they didn't pretend that people struggling to stay out of bankruptcy gave a shit about this stuff. That people going to court to squeeze out owed child support so they could put food on their families gave a shit about the latest Heatherism of the day.

It's all ceased to matter to them. It isn't cynicism or apathy, it's just disconnect and lack of empathy. It disgusts me when these people pander to "the Heartland" or the "Red States" or to people with "good American values." Most of them only know the comfy suburban America they were reared in, having no understanding or concern for the despair which comes from economic hardship which one finds in spades both in urban and rural America.

And, the worst of these - the Howell Raines and the Margaret Carlsons - perpetuate the myth of their own "liberalism," shitting on everyone who truly can be described as liberal.

Bed time for me.

"I'm in a place where I don't know where I am!"  

Not anymore, Homer. That map of Springfield has to be one of the best among what must be millions of webpages devoted to Simpsons arcana.

As Jeffrey said yesterday, "kiss your next hour and a half goodbye." Except he could have meant kiss your next day and a half goodbye.


via Political Wire

I don't agree with his politics very often, but sometimes you really have to hand it to Andrew Sullivan for his ability to put things in a nutshell:

For "personal reasons." Like he personally presided over two of the biggest CIA failures in modern history. Thank God Bush never actually fired him. That would mean taking responsibility, wouldn't it?

No need to add anything to that, is there?

Thursday Prudence 

Another weak week, if you ask me. The letters there have been terribly disappointing lately, but I think "Imprudent Adopter" would have been better served by asking for advice from the proprietor of Naked Furniture:

I have an ethical dilemma that has plagued me for years but has recently become acute. Ten years ago I adopted a cute kitten (whom I named, perhaps unfortunately, Prudence), and now I own a cat I hate. Over the years she has proven to be unbearably needy, a trait I find repellent. Her faults are myriad: a screaming meow that awakens me in the early hours of the morning, an apparent inability to learn the basics of litter-box usage or basic grooming, a tendency to drool when receiving her scant portion of affection, as well as colitis, arthritis, and dandruff.

I won't say anything since I still get emails for my insensitivity when I once questioned why I get so many hits on referrals for "how to euthanize a cat".

Rep. Scalise writes a letter 

Regular Timshel readers ought to know how I feel about Steve Scalise by now (hint: You wouldn't mistake me for his biggest fan), but he's got an interesting idea on how Governor Blanco can help the state meet its obligation to the New Orleans Saints. From a press release in my inbox today:

Today State Representative Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, recommended a solution to Governor Blanco to help make up the shortfall in the state’s obligation to the New Orleans Saints. In a letter to the Governor, Scalise recommended that the state use the Orleans portion of the Urban Affairs and Development Fund, commonly referred to as a “Legislative slush fund,” to help meet the shortfall. In his letter Scalise said, “As you decide how to make up the $8-$9 million shortfall needed to meet the state’s obligation to the Saints, I would like to offer a recommendation. I ask that you strongly consider using the Orleans portion of the Urban Development Fund to help finance the shortfall owed to the Saints. As a member of the Orleans Delegation, I feel this proposal will ensure that the funds to meet this obligation come from within Orleans as well as maintaining a positive balance between what the Saints generate to the state in tax revenue and the amount provided by state inducements to keep them here.”

This is a very interesting idea, though I'm not sure about its viability. To be sure the Governor and legislature basically have around $16 million per annum to play around with in urban areas around the state. These are often used as political payoffs for influential civic leaders, political cronies, and all manner of undesirables with connections. I imagine that they sometimes get directed to worthy causes as well. Blanco made a promise during her campaign to rein in the amount available and put limits on how it could be used. It's hard to imagine a better candidate for "urban development" funds than the New Orleans Saints, though you may find that black leaders in the city of New Orleans could think of a few more worthy causes than Tom Benson. I also imagine Ray Nagin has already made designs on how a lot of that money should be spent, especially since just the other day he organized the annual New Orleans day at the state capital.

It will be interesting to see how this goes, but it seems to satisfy The Advocate's call last week by their editors when they wrote:

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.

This money, though not necessarily generated in NOLA, is earmarked for the city (and other urban areas around the state). It won't solve the long-term problems associated with the franchise, but it could at least satisfy immediate state obligations and give them another year to look at better options that could keep the Saints around for the long haul.

The chances of this actually happening are probably pretty slim. This money has generally been the exclusive province of African-American groups populating the larger cities around the state. They won't take kindly to the thought of it going as a direct subsidy to Tom Benson, and politically Blanco probably can't support it. In fact, she's surely got a list of backers who are already holding their hands out for the money as I write this. I'm sure this will play well in the First Congressional District (home of our friend David Duke, and--the bane of New Orleans blacks--David Vitter). That a new candidate for that Congressional seat is looking to pawn off a big chunk of that money to the decidedly white rich man named Tom Benson may earn Scalise a badge of honor there. I'm not saying that this is meant to play on any racist attitudes or anything like that. Rather I think it's a pretty innovative proposal, but the candidate could see some ancillary benefits from it that he shouldn't be too proud of.

I'll be interested to see whether this goes anywhere...


Well it's about time... Is this the beginning a trend? Is Cheney next?

I wonder if George Bush will appoint his father to take over the agency.

Just thought I'd mention this 

Governor Blanco declared yesterday CajunBot day in the state of Louisiana. CajunBot didn't win the DARPA million dollar prize this winter (none of the entries took home the money), but the little monster is planning on wreaking havoc in the November 2005 DARPA challenge, but until then he's climbing steps at the state Capitol and paying homage at Huey Long's gravesite.

You can keep up with his progress at the CajunBot blog.

Duke in Senate Race? 

Jim Brown says that it's not only a possibility, but it could shake up Vitter's chances at a runoff. Also Buddy Roemer, who ruled the race out a few weeks ago, may change his mind again.

I don't think Duke could do anything to harm Vitter's chances at a runoff. At the worst he might peel away some of the more hardened racists that would vote Vitter because he was the only Republican, but Duke is a very different candidate now than he was back in the late eighties and early nineties.

Some suggested reading on this would be Tyler Bridge's 1994 book The Rise of David Duke which meticulously describes the image makeover David Duke undertook during the second half of the eighties to shed his Klan baggage and make himself more palatable to the "angry-white middle class" that he would need to get any kind of popular support for his own political ascendancy. By the time he was running for governor, he referred to his Klan days as "youthful indiscretions," and lots of white people were willing to overlook it as he appealed to their more mainstream anger directed against welfare, affirmative action, and crime.

Since his fall from grace, he's gone back to unabashed racism and anti-Semitism. His brand of hate doesn't wash with the kind of super-jingoistic conservatism that's present in Louisiana or America now anyway. He's been critical of the war in Iraq (no war for Israel, he says) and blames Jewish controlled media for preventing Americans from learning the "real truth" about the root causes of terrorism. Fifteen years ago he found mainstream movements to cover up his hate-filled messages, now those movements have succeeded in much of their reasonable goals (welfare reform was passed, crime went down throughout the nineties; places like the University of Texas and elsewhere have reconsidered the way they handle admissions policies) and thus taken away Duke's cover. He's left with espousing hatred against Israel and sometimes finding common cause with the terrorists who attacked us three years ago.

All this is meant to say that his candidacy, should it ever materialize, will be a joke. Louisiana is done flirting with David Duke in statewide elections.

Saints saga 

The Pic has a couple of well-reported stories about the status and possible future of the Saints relationship with the state of Louisiana. At the moment Benson is talking very clearly like he's not interested in a renegotiation, and Blanco continues to say the state won't default. The only way she'll dip into the general fund, though, is if Benson agrees to look at a new deal in which the state could make a one-time payout this year and then find new ways to fund incentives in the future.

Outside observers think the terms aren't good for either party involved in the deal or the residents of New Orleans. Guaranteed funds tied to volatile revenue streams are never a good idea, but that's the state's fault for making an agreement that they said the could honor:

The structure of the Saints' deal, featuring guaranteed annual cash subsidies, made it unique in the NFL and caused some industry experts to compare it to the city of San Diego's much-maligned ticket guarantee with the Chargers. Under its 1995 lease, the city guarantees the Chargers revenue equivalent to the sale of 60,000 general admission seats at each home game. The deal runs until 2007.

"Any deal that has an annual appropriation is not healthy for the team or the government," Ganis said. "A deal that is subject to annual budgetary constraints is undesirable and fundamentally flawed for both sides."

Make no mistake that it's in Tom Benson's interest to see the state default on the money they owe the team. He surely doesn't need the money to run his organization, and it would give him extra leverage in either securing a better deal after the whole thing falls apart, or it would allow him to sell or move his team without a penalty from the state. If he does renegotiate it would because miraculously something better comes out of it (like a new stadium by 2020, as the above story suggests), or out of his commitment to the city of New Orleans.

The other report is about the trouble the state has found in their failed attempts to name the Superdome. What's the problem. It's a p.o.s. and its future is too uncertain. None of that is likely to change any time soon, so the state has put a hold on any current efforts to sell the name.

Gone Pecan 

While I'm already finding Chris Rose's all print remake of "The Apprentice" a little tiresome, there is a bit of unfortunate but unsurprising news about the doomed film version of "A Confederacy of Dunces" in this week's column:

: The movie project is dead. Again. The financing has been dropped. And [Producer David] Green is out of work, but still living in New Orleans. In fact, Woodward rattled his cage so much that one night he called Margo and said: "Who are you? Five people have given me your number."

Oh well. This movie will never ever get made, which is too bad.

They get letters 

The Advocate doesn't post their letters to the editor online, but I can't help but post at least parts of Kevin Morgan's missive against the Rev. William Maestri's earlier letter to state papers regarding Catholic politicians who don't vote against abortion rights:

Leaving aside for the moment that public officials swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, Maestri's statement drips with irony and hypocrisy.

He insists that people of faith should not be silent or private, yet the archbishop whom he serves for several years was vicar of administration in the Archdiocese of Boston, overseeing the shuffling of scores of pedophilic priests from parish to parish to hide the fact that they were molesting children. In all that time, and for years afterward, we never heard a peep from Alfred Hughes. His silence helped cover up the scandal and allowed it to continue. Silence? Privacy?

Further, he insists that, "The clear teachings of the Catholic Church transcend politics," yet the Church only seeks to force Catholic politicians to adhere to those teachings which coincide with the conservative agenda (i.e. opposition to abortion). The Catholic Church is also opposed to the death penalty, yet no bishops are coming forward to deny communion to politicians who continually vote to expand use of capital punishment.


Of course, the Catholic Church has the right to define its religious principles, and to decide who meets those standards. Likewise, the press and the public have the right to point out what piously hypocritical, morally deficient, cravenly opportunistic political actors the leaders of the Catholic Church are.


02 June 2004


I've never heard of this guy, but apparently a congressional candidate for my own seventh district was arrested today for allegedly writing more than $1,500 in bad checks all over the district.

He was arrested in Allen Parish but also has warrants out for his arrest from the Opelousas and Eunice city jails. I'm guessing he wasn't planning a particularly high profile candidacy.

Ron Ceasar calls himself an "independent" and says he is an accountant. I'm sure he must have just neglected to borrow a digit the last time he balanced his check book.

Ceasar has run in the district before in 1994.

Just like the final episode of Seinfeld... 

except the exact opposite. Larry David and the best comedy on television manage to save an innocent man from years in jail.

US Highway 190 

Will forever after be known in Louisiana as Ronald Reagan Highway should Governor Blanco merely attach her signature. I was upset about this a few weeks ago, but now I just don't care. I find Crouere's list of Reagan's "accomplishments" a little suspect, though.

Yankees fans... 

I've been enjoying Plum Crazy, Home of the Vast Center Wing Conspiracy, for quite some time now, but this is too much to handle. (The image doesn't work at the post's permanent page, so if you have to scroll, stop when you get to "Bwahahahaha")

He's cracking up 

I think it may be time for Atrios to find a new way to spend his time.

Feds on our backs 

According to a note in the T-P's briefing book, the Federal government isn't satisfied with the legislatures recent passage of an open container ban for all passengers in moving vehicles:

That means Louisiana will continue to lose $10 million a year in federal road maintenance money. Jim Champagne, executive director of the safety commission, said the state still will get the cash, but it will be transferred to other projects and can't be used on road maintenance. Louisiana's new open-container law contains numerous exceptions. Passengers in licensed limousines, taxis or hotel courtesy vehicles, for instance, are exempted, along with people on Mardi Gras floats.

Maybe it's just me, but I thought these exemptions were pretty much standard around the country. I guess I can understand maybe not having exemptions for taxis, but hotel shuttles and limos all over the place include alcohol with the ride. How do any states get money to repair their roads?

Freaking insurance companies. What a bunch of jerks...


I mentioned the homestead exemption exemption (yeah, that's confusing to me too) of gay and unmarried heterosexual couples yesterday being moved through the legislative process yesterday, but today the story gets even more unbelievable. It seems that the amendment's author, the asshole in question, Robert Adley, put it in because he was worried that without it the bill was too gay friendly and would result in the main portion of the bill--which would protect the homestead exemption of elderly widows (who could deny them their due)--becoming a divisive political issue. Talk about your backwards logic:

With lawmakers also debating a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Adley and Dupre said they didn't want the homestead bill to become part of a divisive political debate over gay rights.

But that's exactly what happened, as the amendment ended up sparking the kind of political uproar it was supposed to quell.

"We very carefully tried to keep it out of this fray," Adley said. "But it has just been dragged into the middle of it."

Carefully trying to keep it out of the fray means going out of your way to discriminate against a certain class of homeowners. I must have woken up on another planet.

Oh well... 

Just as I was becoming enamored with the Shreveport Time's editorial board they have to go and ruin it all. The truth is that this is a much more measured and considerate approach than the Advocate's editorial from last week, though I don't agree with it any more than the Advocate's. You have to credit them for at least acknowledging that the Saints do provide some good for the state. Consider this:

The Saints may be a source of statewide pride in its long-suffering fans, but most of the actual economic benefit is derived by New Orleans, where game weekends bring in fans to bars, restaurants, inns and gas stations. To be sure, the health of a vibrant New Orleans radiates outward, including dollars flowing into the state's tax treasury. But so too does it absorb much of the state's resources, not the least of which is the continuing struggle to improve K-12 education in a district with 14 schools rated as failing.

The home of a professional sports franchise ideally shoulders most of its expense. Situated as it is, New Orleans can't generate the TV market or fan base enjoyed by many NFL metropolitan areas. So Benson wants either a new stadium or Superdome improvements to help make the franchise more lucrative. Either scenario would likely include state assistance.

New Orleans has faced abandonment before, losing its basketball team to Utah in 1979, before finally replacing it with a new franchise in 2002. But the French Quarter and the city's other cultural and recreational charms continued to draw in tourists without professional basketball. The Saints' value to the city and South Louisiana region may only be fully realized if the team departs, just as Houston decided to get back in the game after its Oilers fled to Tennessee.

But pro sports, the attractive beads that accentuate what is already the state's biggest tourist draw, New Orleans, shouldn't become so many albatrosses around the rest of the state's neck.

The writer also speaks of the problems with reconciling payments to a sports franchise in a demonstrably tight budget that must fund hospitals, schools, and a myriad other services that are needed by the state's residents.

Now I believe that the continued presence of the Saints in New Orleans will only serve as an engine of economic development for the state as a whole, but at least readers can engage the Time's argument, rather than the Advocate's disingenuous "we don't need them" and flippant dismissal of all things Saints.

Tallulah empty 

It only rhymes with Fallujah.

It's good news that the state finally managed to remove all of the inmates--and that is the only appropriate term for the youths incarcerated there--from the correctional facility in Madison Parish yesterday. This place has been nothing but a mess of abuse and disgust since it opened in 1994.

However, now the state is left with the big question of what to do with the big empty facility, which still requires lease payments to the facilities "owners". The Pic touches on this problem in their report:

The Department of Corrections currently is slated to take over the prison, turning it into a substance-abuse treatment program for adult inmates.

The legislation passed last year closing the facility to youth mandates that it be converted to an adult prison.


Local community leaders and lawmakers, however, have a different idea about how the prison should be used.

Sen. Charles Jones, D-Monroe, has filed Senate Bill 785 that would turn the facility into a "learning center," which would place Madison Parish's two high schools under one roof, as well as eventually a vocational and community college.


But the complicated history that led to the building of the Tallulah prison could get in the way.

The Louisiana state government is obligated by a 1994 cooperative endeavor agreement to pay $3.4 million annually on the debt service of the facility.

But after that debt is paid off -- in about 15 years -- the buildings will not be owned by the state but by Trans-American Development Associates, the private company that built the prison.

The Advocate's Chris Frink has a little more information about that cooperative endeavor agreement:

The state pays $3.5 million a year to lease the prison from a company owned by three politically connected men, including George Fischer, who served as chief of staff, campaign manager and transportation secretary for former Gov. Edwin Edwards.

In 2002, officials in then-Gov. Mike Foster's administration tried to end the Tallulah lease after an audit revealed that the state had paid $8.7 million in dividends and salaries to Fischer and his partners since 1994.

Fischer and his partners financed the prison construction with bonds backed by the state's promise to pay them to run the prison.

Bond rating agencies scuttled the state's attempt to end the Tallulah lease payments by threatening to lower the state's bond rating. A lower bond rating could cost the state millions of dollars a year in additional interest payments on future debt.

That story doesn't leave much room for optimism that Tallulah will ever be a facility for anything other than incarceration, but it's a good thing that the youths locked down there are finally out from behind its walls. Of course, as both stories note, most of them were simply moved to other youth prisons around the state, and the real goal of youthful corrections should be to rehabilitate them rather than simply locking them up and getting them off the street. This is the first step to realizing this goal, but there's no doubt that the state still has a very long way to go.

sidenote: I know there's a lot more to be said here about the additional problems of "prisons for profit", but I'll leave that post for another day.

Talk Left addressed this last week...

For more on Tallulah background check these links

local press from The Gambit in 2001
Race perspectives
re: financial troubles w/r/t bond issues
from the NYT, scroll down to the bottom of the site

That's good for now...

Liking what I see 

Whilst stumbling through the T-P online this morning I was greeted with the best pop-up ad I've seen in a long time.

This is the first "donate to John Kerry" pop-up I've been confronted with. I'm too broke to contribute, but it's nice to see they're on soliciting donations from all the right places. I didn't include the hyperlink, but if you want to reward the Kerry camp's advertising measures, just click on the button up at the top right of the blog...

SB 511 (Not) Rural Broadband goes to committee 

Well, today, apparently is the day the big “compromise” on SB 511 gets rammed through the inaptly named Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. There will be scarce little Consumer Protection involved I will wager. The amended bill is not currently available online; only the original Rural Broadband Initiative which was later mangled to produce try and impose restrictions on LUS can be found.

Decent coverage of the story is in the Advocate, of course, not the Advertiser (an aptly named institution.) The Advertiser’s “fair and balanced’ coverage (which only note both side’s claims without giving the public the information to judge those claims) is also online and serves first notice of an informational meeting this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in the Ted A. Ardoin City-Parish Council Auditorium, 705 W. University Ave. The public is informed only after the compromise is set. I think your time would be better spent going down to the leg, watching the sausage being made and hoping you could make it downtown afterwards.

If reason is a guide local folks should be battering down the gates to ensure that a small, local entity which is regularly held accountable by local interests gets control of the superhighways of the future and that BellSouthCox does not own and control the fiber. History demonstrates that LUS has used its current fiber network to force lower prices for business and should have earned tech entrepreneurs gratitude and support. There is no reason at all for local folks to believe that if BellSouthCox were to build out fiber that there would be any, ANY, profitable chunk allowed local folks or that they would ever lower the prices to fair levels without competition. Why should they? Their prices for business fiber only lowered when the goberment (horrors) provided it with real competition. All the evidence to date indicates that LUS has made cheap fiber available to local businesses, that it will do the same for individuals and, further, that it is in its profound and continuing interest to promote local development in ways that will never be true of large interstate utilities. The dishonest way that BellSouth and especially Cox have conducted this debate should give folks a real incentive to think about why they feel the necessity to mislead. Could it be that they have no other case?

A reasonable stance for locals would be to storm the Senate hearing room C today and demand no compromise on SB 511 and a return to the original Rural Broadband initiative.

I hope a few of us will make it.

01 June 2004

Site referral of the day 

Oh. Dear. Lord

"hardcore incest mother son terra hardcore"

I don't know what to say about this. I feel dirty just writing that search phrase. What's with the terra? Is that like outdoors pr0n or is it a play on George Bush's pronounciation of the word terror? What's with European visitors to Timshel?


Nuke launch codes through much of the Cold War were set to "OOOOOOOO"

Launch officers were apparently more concerned with the codes getting in the way of carrying out their orders than they were about the chances of an unauthorized launch. Dear God this can not be true.

I say this as someone who has about three codes I regularly use for all kinds of different things, most of which are a variation on the old eight zeroes routine.

I think launch codes would at least warrant my mother's birthday my cat's name or something.

Congrats/Navel Gazing 

It looks like reader JJ Shabadoo was visitor number 20,000 to Timshel. At least I don't know who else could be reading in New Mexico, where Shabadoo proudly serves the state in his capacity as a financial aid expert for one of their smaller colleges. He should be used to the big bag of nothing that he'll get for turning the odometer over the twenty-thousand mark.

The traffic has been inconsistent over the last couple of weeks, but I have some tricks up my sleeve once my summer of driving comes to an end and I return from Boston towards the end of July.

Until then, I'll take the very minor milestone.

Be afraid 

More from the great graphics department at my local television stations. This one accompanies this story about the new golf digs at Angola prison. Look out for high security inmates with golf clubs...
I think I'll take a mulligan
Despite what that picture might lead you to believe, the golf course is actually meant for the employees of the giant penitentiary. Don't worry about the inmates, though, they'll at least get some use out of it:

In addition to giving employees a new activity, Cain says a lot of inmates can develop skills that could land them a job on a golf course or in the landscaping department of city government.

For some reason I doubt the members at English Turn would be excited to learn that the club was employing recently released cons from Angola.

The liberals were right 

Tornado warnings in Lafayette Parish!? Al Gore was right about "The Day After Tomorrow" after all. Which, incidentally, I'm planning on taking in tonight despite my better judgment (and Lisa and Ken's too). What can I say, I'm a sucker for disaster movies.

Re: all the talk about this movie from the usual suspects. It seems to me that I've heard more conservatives talking about liberals talking up this movie than I have heard actual environmentalist types talk up this movie. I could be wrong about that since I rarely hear liberal voices anywhere near a radio or in my local press, but that's the way it goes. SCLM eat your heart out.

7th District News 

David Thibodeaux formally announced his candidacy--apparently through a press release since there is no news of an event--to represent southwest Louisiana in the US Congress today. This is my old English prof that I've had a few words to say about in the blog. Considering the weak field of candidates I might deign to vote Republican in this election and pull the lever for him come November.

I happen to know he makes a better pitch than Judge Ned Doucet, a "Democrat" who I wrote about a couple of weeks ago after seeing him at an event sponsored by the Concerned Citizens for Good Government.

Throw in the "yea" votes on our state hate amendment by Sens. Don Cravins and Willie Mount and it could be the perfect storm I need to vote Republican in a federal election.

Granted I'll need to hear what issues Thibodeaux is running on, but as it stands right now, at least I know him.


Cajun basketball fans probably won't be surprised by this headline in the morning sports page:

Ex-Cajun Southall jailed

For those of you who don't know anything about Michael Southall, he had the potential to be one of the great Cajun basketball players in the school's history. God blessed Michael Southall with a six-foot eleven-inch frame and a rock-solid body. He could move around the basket and overpower most of the other centers in the Sun Belt conference. He dominated teams in the paint defensively by blocking shots an causing turnovers. He was initially offered a scholarship by the University of Kentucky, but the marijuana arrest that had him on parole up until now caused the big-time programs around the country to shy away from him.

Despite all that he still had the potential to use UL as a springboard for a potential professional career. Unfortunately, his short stay here in Lafayette was characterized by ceaseless academic trouble resulting in eligibility problems; rumors surrounding drug use and late-night partying, and now his almost total lack of discipline has landed him in jail for a year. But when he was on the floor, he was brilliant.

My liberal guilt precludes me from letting the athletic department and (now former coach) Jesse Evans off the hook for not doing more to guide Michael Southall out of the mess he's made of his life. And I can't tell you that my concern for Southall's well-being isn't more than a little selfishly motivated out of my desire to see Cajun athletics succeed. However, while UL probably failed Southall, there is little doubt that Southall failed himself. He was given hundreds of opportunities and second-chances, but he never did anything with them. Hopefully his life won't be forever ruined by a year stint in jail and the regret that will surely come with the talent that he's wasted. UL basketball will go on without Michael Southall, hopefully he can go on without UL basketball.

But isn't that what your delegation is supposed to do? 

Actually I'm all for Governor Blanco's proposal to hire a lobbyist for the state of Louisiana to the federal government. I'm surprised she only wants one, and $100,000 a year doesn't sound like a lot of money to me. I'd do it for living expenses, myself, but we're talking about money-grubbing lobbyists with no scruples here. From what I understand they don't come cheap.


If you're not up to speed on the dealings between the state of Louisiana and Tom Benson and his football franchise, Mike Hasten has a good recap of the drama in the Gannett papers this morning. He doesn't add much to the story, but it's a good reminder. Kathleen Blanco continues to promise that the state won't default, but they won't dip into the general fund either. Good luck with that.

And a Timshel reader near and dear to the Prado family writes in to the Baton Rouge "Advocate" this morning with this letter (not online, but quoted in full):

Regarding your editorial about the Saints-state negotiations:

Do not let your emotions cloud your judgment in evaluation the Saints' economic impact on the state. The Saints are a business, generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the state economy. Without them, the state and its general fund will have to do without the money generated by their business. So, when evaluating whether or not the state should give this business an incentives, it should be measured against the net gain of having the team in the state.

In this case, it is clear that the financial benefits of having a NFL team far outweigh the costs of the current agreement. Perhaps your editorial board would realize this if not for its hellbent approach on being anti-Saints.

Is your editorial board for or against keeping businesses in the state? Did you not applaud efforts to keep State Farm and other businesses? Then why not support the state and its effort to keep the Saints?

Amen, brother. Yesterday included another letter expressing similar sentiments from another New Orleans reader. If the readers opinions at the Baton Rouge rag are any gauge, which they really probably aren't, then public opinion seems to be in favor of shelling out the bucks to ensure the continued presence of the Saints in New Orleans. Now if we can only get them that new stadium...

More gay bashing 

I mentioned the way some legislative tweaking to the homestead exemption could freeze out gay couples (and with them any platonic non-blood related folks sharing ownership of a house)last week. Today the editors at the T-P write an entirely unispiring condemnation of the Sen. Robert Adley-sponsored amendment to Senate Bill 806. I guess they deserve credit for writing it, but Robert Adley ought to be more forcefully taken to task for his undoubtedly discriminatory measure that would essentially levy a tax on being gay and owning a house with your partner.

And in a story I saw in the current issue of the Gambit (it doesn't seem to be online yet, but I imagine they'll have it up here sometime in the next couple of days) Eileen Loh Harrist has an instructive message for lawmakers who might correspond with their constituents. Don't write anything you don't want to see published in a newspaper, especially when you admit to voting for a bill you think is wrong. Here's a quote from the email Representative Jalila Jefferson-Bullock sent to Raymond Bursche in response to his angry message about her yea vote on the state marriage amendment:

I have voted in favor of anti-discrimination bills throughout my short tenure in the legislature...I even co-authored a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation this session. I'm sorry that I know longer have your vote. Though I'm sure that it is difficult to understand the enormous pressures that we face here, I want you to know that they do exist. Unfortunately, I face enormous pressure from my pastor, Bishop [Paul] Morton, who has launched a national campaign in favor of an amendment to the federal Constitution. This may sound like a silly excuse to you, but I just wanted you to know what my reasoning is. I'm sorry that no longer have your vote and I'm sorry that had to vote that way. I just hope that you can understand that I do not support discrimination and I hope that the bill is ultimately found unconstitutional.

Louisiana lawmakers were terrified of this bill, and I wonder how many voted for the amendment because they were scared of the political ramifications of a "nay" vote. It's the worst kind of political cowardice to vote for something that one admittedly finds discriminatory because of vague pressures from loudmouthed activists. Rep. Jefferson-Bullock won't be getting any "Profiles In Courage" awards any time soon. These people deserve political consequences for their vote on this amendment, and since she was kind enough to admit that it's wrong, she ought to be the first voted out of office when her reelection comes up.

31 May 2004

No place like home 

I made it back to la casa de Prado despite some nasty car trouble that cropped up somewhere between the Atchafalaya bridge and Baton Rouge (is my animosity to all things Red and Stick-like being reciprocated by the truly evil city? I wonder what will happen when I get to Texas next weekend...). I haven't seen a bit of news from the area since I left Friday, so I feel terribly out of touch with life along the I-10 corridor in Louisiana. I also haven't had a chance to check out any of the blogs, so I hope I'm not echoing anyone when I point out the NY Times dedicated most of their travel section to Acadiana yesterday.

A dear old friend and reader, Chris Courville, had a band he used to drum for not too long ago mentioned in a longer story about Zydeco. The Blue Runners don't exactly fit that bill, but they are mentioned as more of a white alternative to traditional Zydeco. Also, Mary won't be surprised by this lede from a story about the move of Evangeline Downs from Carencro to Opelousas:

THERE are three great passions in south central Louisiana: spicy food, Cajun music and horse racing. It's a tossup which comes first. Most people know about gumbo and zydeco, but to pick up on the horseracing fever, you have to go to Evangeline Downs, just north of Lafayette.

And our blogiana resident gourmand, Cajun Ken, almost surely caught this bit about Cajun cuisine, also included in yesterday's travel section. Anyway, it's good to see the true heart of Louisiana recognized in the New York Times, even if it tends to be a bit condescending every now and again.

Posting will get back to normal tomorrow.

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