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17 December 2004

Greatest Cajun ever to retire 

Sorry Murph, not your cousin Jake Delhomme, but the greatest special teams player in the history of the NFL and former Ragin' Cajun quarterback Brian Mitchell. He asked Dan Snyder for a one day contract so that he can retire--and enter the Hall of Fame, presumably--as a Washington Redskin. Snyder agreed, but the Post explains that it probably won't happen until after the season ends. That's fine by Brian Mitchell, because he's holding out for any team that might need him as the season ends, that way he might wrestle the total combined yardage for a career record back from Jerry Rice, who passed him up a few weeks ago:
Still, he said he would seriously consider returning if a team asked him to play a few more games this year, if only to help a playoff push while also trying to catch Seattle wide receiver Jerry Rice for the league's all-time combined yardage record.

Mitchell started the 2004 season holding that NFL record, with 23,330 yards gained rushing, receiving and returning. Rice, 42 and in his 20th season, caught eight passes for 145 yards on Dec. 6 in the Seahawks' Monday night loss to the Cowboys and pulled ahead of Mitchell. Rice now has 23,521 combined yards.
Happy trails Brian. See you in Canton.

Wright indicted 

Remember that state legislator accused of committing a sex act with another man in a state park bathroom?

Yesterday a grand jury indicted Tommy Wright and the other accused man on felony obscenity charges.

No word on what kind of punishment he faces, but it's probably safe to say his political career is finished.

TKGOTW 

Slim pickin's edition. Don't ask, because I don't know. I'll look around and see if I can't find something else for later, but don't count on anything. For now, I'll pass along some suggestions from some other Pelican blogs.

Jeffrey suggests one of the many yeti sports mirrors. By now this game has been around all the internets and back a thousand times, but if you've forgotten how to whack a penguin, this afternoon might be a good time to brush up on it.

Meanwhile, His dudeness directs us to a fun little game courtesy of the Discover Card where you can participate in a snowball fight with real opponents online (click on "Holiday Game"). The hardest thing about the game is actually managing to secure an opponent, but it's worth your time to try. Have fun. Don't put your eye out.

Hello, Acadiana. TV-10 loves Hueb... 

Murph posted the bare bones of a story about Acadiana's KLFY TV-10 evening anchor Chuck Huebner. He gets it second hand from one of his commenters, but doesn't have access to the story. It's pretty funny, so I'll just transcribe the relevant parts for community consumption. The reporting is courtesy of The Independent's business reporter Leslie Turk.
Sources close to KLFY say Huebner accosted Rahsha Holmes, the station's executive producer, after a 6 p.m. newscast about a month ago. No one will say what upset Huebner to the point that he threatened to "bust a cap in [her] ass" any time she did "something to f*ck up a newscast." But KLFY iniders say the producer took the threat--which was witnessed by another employee--seriously and was too afraid to attend work the following day.

It's unclear whether Huebner's entire suspension was for the Holmes incident. He was also involved in another personnel dispute that allegedly includes a sexual harassment complaint against Huebner filed with the station's management.

...

No explanation, either on or off the air, was given for Huebner's two-week absence. Huebner was on vacation this week and did not return a call for comment.
I guess KATC won't be trying to steal Huebner away from KLFY like they managed with Hoyt Harris, Darla Montgomery, and Rob Perillo. Was their ever a time when KLFY needed Dick Faurot--that beacon of hope--to come back to Lafayette so much?

More Saban 

The Miami Herald says an offer is forthcoming (registration required, if you don't want to bother feel free to use my email address along with the password "timshel1") by the end of the weekend and possibly as early as today. Salary somewhere between an average of 4 and 5 million a year. To satisfy league hiring requirements, they will interview a minority candidate first.

Required reading 

Coastal erosion is in the Times-Picayune today with two interesting stories. One is about an unfortunately impossible scenario where the state would deny new drilling and piping on Louisiana's coast until the federal government committed to significant funding for coastal restoration. Considering the importance of the oil industry to state employment levels and the federal government's energy policy there's little way that this wouldn't cause some major anger towards whatever governor had the cojones to try it (the article mentions one term wonder Buddy Roemer), but it's a rather fun thought to entertain.

The other is about the plan moving forward to pipe dredged material from the Mighty Miss'asip in order to engineer the renewal of a barrier west of Violet(?). That's $44.5 million at least to rebuild one tiny island that protects our coastline from the barrage of Gulf storms. Imagine these costs writ large on multiple barrier islands plus the costs of restoring the marshlands that have been damaged as a result of the increasingly disappearing barriers. The health care costs in this state are a pittance compared to these needs.

"TAF. Paging the TAF" 

It looks like William Jenkins is asking the Tiger Athletic Fund to step up for Nick Saban:
LSU President William Jenkins said Thursday that though the school will do what it can to keep football coach Nick Saban from leaving for the Miami Dolphins, LSU is already at its limit in terms of financial compensation.
"There's always an opportunity to at least explore alternatives," Jenkins said. "We would see what we can do to continue the forward progress and momentum of our football program. But we're not talking about monetary things."

Saban is in the first year of a seven-year contract that pays him $2.3 million this season, escalating to $3 million by 2010.
At some point the salary stops mattering, and I imagine Nick Saban is at that point now. It appears that he's looking for an NFL organization that has potential to make him a winner. If the Dolphins are that team, and they make him an offer that's at least comparable to what he's making in Baton Rouge, I don't think it matters how much money LSU and their private boosters throw at him. He's going to move on.

Health Care Woes 

Despite the story I mentioned yesterday, I can't find much in the papers about the rural health centers meant to alleviate the pressure on emergency rooms at charity hospitals across the state. Instead, the Advocate prints a story about the Medicaid budget cuts being floated by the President as a deficit reduction measure. Predictably, the Gov isn't happy.

The more interesting story is probably about the criticism Blanco is taking for having the gall to suggest that the state ought to retrieve some of its health care money from the grip of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. These institutions generally run with minimal budgetary oversight, and they gobble up a large portion of the money that could get into the hands of the elderly and disabled who need help with some basic services but don't need to be institutionalized. Here are some key quotes on the criticism:
The state Senate's leading voice on health-care policy had strong criticism Thursday for Gov. Kathleen Blanco's proposal to change the way Louisiana nursing homes are paid in the Medicaid program as part of a larger overhaul of long-term care for the elderly and disabled.

Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and sits on the budget-writing Finance Committee, said the plan was "punitive," and predicted a fight in the Legislature if the plan is presented to lawmakers in its present form.

Reducing payments to nursing homes, while creating incentives for people to get services at home or in smaller settings, would make it tougher for nursing homes to care for patients who have no choice but to remain in institutions, McPherson said.

"It's punitive to the patients who are left in the nursing homes," said McPherson, who is a nursing home owner.
What's the problem with nursing homes in Louisiana, you might wonder?
[T]he current financing formula gives nursing home owners little incentive to respond to a changing marketplace in which increasing numbers of people want services at home or in less-restrictive settings.

Louisiana has more nursing-home beds per capita than any other state and one of the lowest occupancy rates in the country, which the report blames partly on the financing formula.

For example, Louisiana charges nursing homes a "provider fee" based on the number of patients they have. Other states charge similar fees based on the number of beds, whether or not they're occupied, creating a disincentive for empty beds. Louisiana nursing homes also receive a rental allowance that is based on housing costs in New Orleans, where real-estate values are the highest in the state.
Kathleen Blanco essentially names her own committee chairs, so given our state's terrible health care crisis I'm rather surprised that she gave the most powerful legislative position w/r/t the health care industry to someone who's so deeply tied to the problem. Anyone surveying the state a year ago could have seen without holding a summit that massive reforms were going to be necessary. It's too bad she thought she'd have an ally in Joe McPherson. Maybe it's time for a little of that Queen Bee tough love Blanco exhibited last year.

O'Keefe Hired 

Here's the story, and the connections to the Bush administration angle really is getting ridiculous:
The new chancellor, who is already drawing national attention to LSU, said he plans to wait for President Bush to name his successor at NASA before coming to Louisiana. He said he expects to leave his current home in northern Virginia by early February.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco made an appearance to lend her support to the new appointee, whose connections to both Bush administrations were touted by many.

"In this world it is critically important to have as many contacts as we can with the administration," Blanco said. "He certainly has the ear of the president at this time."
This is rather mild, but over the last few days it's been as though the state press couldn't run a story about this guy without talking about how he's "close to Bush." You'd think O'Keefe and the President were spending their weekends at the Crawford ranch playing Pictionary and having pajama parties. I suppose I could understand if Bush himself were writing the grants to public universities, but for some reason I have serious doubts about the possibility that the President puts much of a priority on where federal monies for universities go.

I also wonder how smart it is politically for Blanco to make a statement like the one I've highlighted above. She risks setting a dangerous precedent that would give permission to the people in charge of staffing high-profile jobs all across the state to exclude men and women who might not find the favor of the White House. It's not too hard to imagine a situation where this trickles down to include people who might not satisfy the changing political realities of the state of Louisiana. She's essentially validated a GOP campaign position for the next four years. Hell, she herself has to face reelection in 2007. Can you imagine how often that quote's going to be thrown back in her face?

For all I know, O'Keefe might be a great hire for LSU, but this cult of Bush crap has got to stop. In the end it won't make one damn bit of difference that this guy managed to meet our fearless leader a few times. Sure, it will probably give him a leg up in goading some wealthy alumni to open up their checkbooks, but almost definitely not as much as, say, another national championship for the football team would.

16 December 2004

This looks good... 

I'm interested in seeing this in tomorrow's papers.

Incidentally, do any of my fellow Loyola readers who are still in NOLA know if WWL reporter Lucy Bustamante is the same person who worked for residential life and finished in 2002? Her claim to fame before working for WWL would have been a brief fling(?) with the Real World New Orleans' David ("Come on, be my baby tonight.")?

More Tauzin 

The New York Times does some excellent reporting on the conflict of interests expressed in Tauzin's new employment. Here's some highlights:
Thomas A. Scully, the administration's main negotiator with Congress on the drug bill, got a waiver of federal ethics rules that permitted him to negotiate with potential employers while he was still running the Medicare program. Since he joined a law firm last December, Mr. Scully has registered as a lobbyist for drug companies, including Abbott and Aventis.

Mr. Tauzin (pronounced TOE-zan) and Mr. White refused to discuss Mr. Tauzin's new salary, except to say it was comparable to the pay at other large trade associations. People at other trade groups said they believed that Mr. Tauzin would receive $2 million a year or more.

Representative Pete Stark of California, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said: "As a member of Congress, Billy negotiated a large payout to the pharmaceutical industry by the federal government. He's now about to receive one of the largest salaries ever paid to any advocate by an industry."

Mr. Tauzin wrote large parts of the new Medicare law as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and as a member of the conference committee that hashed out differences between the House and the Senate in four months of intense negotiations last year.

The law steers clear of price controls and price regulation, which are anathema to drug companies. The law forbids the government to negotiate with drug manufacturers to secure lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
I'll make a rather important correction to that last post on this matter as well. Tauzin was not in negotiations with PhRMA while crafting the bill. He didn't begin negotiations until a couple of months after it was signed by President Bush.

Arsenic 

This story has been making the rounds in my local media for a few months now, but it seems to have come to a head now as the Advertiser and the Louisiana DEQ have run independent tests confirming that the water supplies in Cow Island and Fork Island are dangerously contaminated. The Advertiser has a couple of stories that are worth pointing out to you this morning, because these residents have been ignored by people who can make a difference for too long now.

Keep in mind that the sample size for residents is very small, but according to the Advertiser 1 in 15 people between the two communities has cancer. No one knows why, but residents have plenty or reasons to believe it's because of the water. Anyway, read up on this, because it's the kind of story that can quickly go from "small-town concern" to scandal of epic proportions.

Tauzin 

Per Michael's request, I'll also pass on the news that Billy Tauzin was--Surprise!--named head of PhRMA, the big drug lobbying group. You might remember that back in February while Congress was crafting the prescription drug "benefit," Tauzin was already in negotiations for the terms of this contract. Some papers mistakenly reported (links long since dead now, but here's what I said about it then) that Tauzin had ruled out working for PhRMA. This pretty much confirms that they had already come to some kind of gentlemanly agreement about his compensation for years of service to the drug industry. I'll repeat that in case you don't grasp the enormity of this kind of conflict. While Tauzin was involved in the drafting of a major drug bill, one that has been roundly criticized as a giveaway to the drug industry, he was also involved in negotiations with the firm that handles lobbying for said industry. Now he's announced that he's going to work for them.

For all the ink spilt by Louisiana political pundits about the "loss of clout" with the retirements of John Breaux and Billy Tauzin, their immediate forays into lobbying for major industries ought to give their boosters at least some pause about where their loyalties really lie. These men have enormous influence and considerable wealth, and they could use that for further advocacy on behalf of the people they've supposedly served over their combined decades as legislators, but what really matters is their further enrichment and service to major players whose interest is not with the public--and certainly not to Louisiana--but to their own bottom line. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to demonize people who choose to make money for themselves and their families, but maybe we can finally stop talking about how selflessly they've represented Louisiana all these years. If their legacies to the state are gaming the US Congress to deliver the occassional pork to Louisiana residents, then we've come a long way from the days of Boggs and Long. What's their legacy? We still have one of the poorest states in the nation that's literally disappearing at the rate of square miles a year.

Brinkley to Tulane 

It must be academia day in the Timshel world headquarters.

The Picayune includes news that my--er--Tulane sources tell me was a done deal as many as six months ago. Perhaps Douglas Brinkley wanted to put off a full commitment to Tulane University--leaving UNO out in the cold as they seem to be experiencing a whole host of problems--until after the election. It's entirely possible that he expected some kind of position in the White House if Kerry would have managed to eke out a victory last month.

Out with the old, in with the new 

The two papers that matter in the state both front the news that Nick Saban interviewed with the Miami Dolphins, but there's not much to the discussion past that. In fact it's pretty amazing that they would bother to put together such large stories that amount to not much more than "they talked to each other," but that's life in the newspaper biz I suppose. (Advocate and T-P)

Meanwhile, the Advocate includes news of Sean O'Keefe's visit to the LSU campus yesterday, where he took questions from faculty and staff, and visited in closed door meetings with administrators of various stripes. I'm not going to pretend I know too much about what the chancellor at a school like LSU needs to do as part of his job description, but it strikes me that O'Keefe's boosters might be making a little too much of all this:
O'Keefe, 48, brings to the table perks many career academicians can't offer: national name recognition and ties to the Bush administration.

O'Keefe, also former secretary of the U.S. Navy, has been named to several high ranks under the current president and former President George H.W. Bush.

...

"He's obviously got a national reputation. That certainly correlates with our flagship agenda," Business Administration Dean Robert Sumichrast said before Wednesday's gathering.

...

University officials have said that hiring a nationally known candidate could translate into recognition and other benefits.

O'Keefe said hiring him won't automatically ensure more federal support.

"I'm not bringing the Bank of the United States with me," O'Keefe said.
Whatever the case, I imagine it wouldn't be a particularly wise move for LSU to hire O'Keefe without interviewing anyone else. The question is where are the rest of the qualified applicants? The pool must have been pretty shallow if LSU is ready to throw the keys at this guy already.

15 December 2004

Ho-hum 

Bored without anything to blog about. That means it's time to take a ride on the "next blog" button courtesy of your blogger "nav bar".

Say hello to the Boehke baby, and you have to respect a guy who's such a dedicated football fan...

Wrong team, jerk... 

Saban talks with Dolphins

A word of advice 

If you're ever on the run from the law, it might not be a great idea to apply for a job at a prison. It's just a thought.

Lafayette Stuff 

Count this among the many things I didn't know about my hometown. For the record, this Montesano character sounds like a petulant child. I understand his frustration at the planning commission, but the city should definitely have input on the way massive acreage right in the middle of the fastest-growing part of the city should be used. Especially w/r/t transportation and traffic issues. If he can't deliver what he's promised then he shouldn't be surprised that they want to know why and when he will be able to.

And who knew there was enough room across from the Acadiana Mall (note to Kevin Blanchard--they changed the name to the "Mall of Acadiana") to develop an eighteen hole golf course and nearly 400 residential units? Why hadn't I ever heard of this before now?

Merry Christmas, now pay up 

I don't know why I don't link to John Maginnis more often. Whatever the reasons, he's got a good column about the recent shock many homeowners are facing due to the long-overdue enforcement of Louisiana's rather meager property taxes. Here's the kicker:
Assuming that most tax assessors did better jobs -- or just did their jobs -- at reassessing properties this year, the worst of big tax hikes should be over. If so, property taxes in the future should increase more gradually, along with market values. As more citizens are clued into the millage roll back/roll forward process, overall tax increases can be contained. As it is, with the highest homestead exemption in the nation, Louisiana homeowners already pay among the lowest property taxes.

Isolated cases notwithstanding, the current furor over higher property tax assessments shows that the system is not broken, but being fixed.

Yet, that's cold comfort to families whose tax bills are taking a bite out of their holiday cheer. It goes back to what an old political sage once said of Louisiana, "One day the people will get good government, and they're not going to like it."
I would add something to this, but I've made my feelings quite clear in this space about the state's long war against the property tax, so just go read the whole thing.

Lord Help Us 

I find this both hilarious and a little sad...
Blanco outlined her goals for the delegation -- a higher national minimum wage, tax relief for the middle class, economic development and education dollars.

She pointed out that President Bush carried Louisiana in the recent election. Those votes helped the GOP retain the White House.

Blanco said she has high expectations for Vitter, who is the first elected Republican U.S. senator from Louisiana.

"No pressure," Blanco told him.

...

Asked what was said during the luncheon, Blanco said the message was that "Democrats are people, too."
More on Blanco's meeting with the new federal delegation at the Times-Picayune.

14 December 2004

Albertsons Responds 

My comment on age-restricted packing tape must have piqued a friend's interest. He went the distance and sent a comment to Albertsons Customer Service through their corporate website. Thanks to Hristo for going ahead and doing something I didn't even consider. Here's the entire exchange (take special note of his extremely polite tone in the request):
I was recently in the 2678 Johnston St. Lafayette, LA 70501 store to purchase scotch tape and packing tape. I used your convenient self checkout lane. After scanning the items, I was told I needed my age verified by the computer. The attendant promptly showed up to check my i.d. After asking if it was a mistake that I was required to show i.d. for tape, the attendant said it must have something to do with the glue. I was just curious why I was required to show i.d. for such a simple item as tape. Thank you for your time.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Thank you for contacting Albertsons Customer Care. We received your email regarding being I.D. for items that you purchased.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us. The reason why you could have been I.D is because of a certain ingredient in the glue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We have forwarded your comments on to the right department.

Again, thank you for contacting Albertsons Customer Care. If we can provide any information or be of service to you in the future, please feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Brittany H.
Albertsons Customer Care Representative
Well, that definitely clears everything up. Thanks, Brittany, for all the help. Your gift for handling consumer inquiries is undeniable. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out, "What glue?"
ID please?


The Case for Tasers? 

Not much to say about this...

Ironically this happened in the same jurisdiction where a man recently lost his life after a Taser incident. That stunning incident involved the Sheriff's Dept. and this one was the PD.

The jury's still out on Tasers, to be sure, but this is just the kind of unnecessary death that probably could have been avoided with the proper use of a stun gun.

Quote of the Day 

Ken considers the news that Google plans to team up with a number of research libraries to convert their holdings into digital files.
[I]t should be amusing to search through King Lear for the context of the quote "As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods/They kill us for their sport" and get pop-ads for both Raid and Scientology.

More O'Keefe 

Not a done deal, says the Pic, but all indicators seem to suggest that everyone wants him except a few lowly unnamed faculty members.

His NASA legacy looks mixed despite the effusive praise from Louisiana pols.

Slow Day 

My papers aren't exactly filled with things that interest me this morning, which is fair enough since I should be pretty busy most of the day. At any rate, the first thing I'll mention this morning is an odd experience I had at an Albertson's Grocery Store last night. I was only there to buy a roll of Scotch Tape and a roll of packing tape. I retrieved the item from the shelves and hit the self-checkout line. There I scanned my preferred card, scanned the Scotch tape, and then scanned the packing tape. But for some reason the robotic voice of the self-checkout machine responded to the packing tape scan with, "approval needed." I of course thought this was some kind of mistake, so I threw the tape in my bag with it's Scotch companion and hit the "finish and pay" button.

Then the checker who oversees the four do-it-yourself aisles comes up to me and says, "I need to see your id."

"For tape?" I ask.

"You must have some glue or something with it..."

"No, it's packing tape." In no mood to argue over this, I hand the guy my driver's license so he could enter my birtdate into the computer. It took him a while to do this, which noticeably upset me.

I guess in order to lighten the mood and enhance my experience at the store, he mentions as he gives me the id back, "the government is concerned about what your going to do with that tape."

Now this was clearly a joke, and I muttered something along the lines of "yeah, right..." and walked out, but for the life of me I can't think of any reason this stuff would require me to show proof of age to purchase. A brief web search didn't turn up anything like this, and the guy didn't treat it like it was some anomaly. I figure this is a rather well-informed group reading this. Can anyone tell me any reason I would have had to go through this at an Albertson's? I rarely even get carded for beer any more.

13 December 2004

Hasta Luego... 

After a series of stinging disappointments in this fall's congressional elections, the head of the Louisiana Democratic Party said Monday that he is stepping down from his leadership post. Party chairman Mike Skinner said his resignation would become effective at the next meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee early next year.
The Democratic Party's somewhat unbelievable failures to rally even their traditional constituencies in Louisiana this fall pretty much sealed Mike Skinner's fate. He's a nice enough guy, but someone has to take responsibility for the debacle in this state this year. It will be interesting, but probably not entirely unpredictable, to see which way the Party will go when the Central Committee makes their choice for his replacement next year.

Better than sweeps week... 

Temperatures to Plunge into 30s

Break out your parkas and snow tires. We're going to get a few hours in the middle of the night of below-freezing temperatures.

Newsflash 

Awful movie doesn't get a Golden Globe nomination, it must be because it promotes Christianity.

I won't mention the critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated "Last Temptation of Christ," because of it's extremely controversial take on Jesus the man (though one who doesn't view everything through the narrow lens of the literal (not literary) Gospels would be hard-pressed to call it anti-Christian), however one doesn't have to go too far back to find Hollywood heaping praise on "pro-Christian" pictures. In 1973 the Golden Globes awarded Best Picture to "The Exorcist" and nominated "Jesus Christ Superstar" for Best Musical/Comedy. It doesn't get much more pro-Christian than God's soldiers casting a demon out of a little girl and a musical biography of Christ. Count "Sister Act" among the nominees for Golden Globes in the Best Musical/Comedy category as well. Has any movie ever portrayed nuns so favorably?

More seriously, the decidedly pro-Christian (but also pro-Judaism) "Chariots of Fire" did manage to secure the Best Foreign Film (English Language) Golden Globe for 1981. Why did those Christian haters give it up to "Chariots" and not "The Passion?" I don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with the nutcase sequence where the little demon child breast feeds.

Timshel flashback, my thoughts on "The Passion" once I finally managed to see it.

William Donohue's idiocy is via "The Corner."

Dept. of Petard Hoisting 

Judith Regan (Bernard Kerik paramour) edition.

Rumor and Innuendo 

What good are blogs if not for passing on unconfirmed political gossip? Despite said lack of confirmation, the thought of "little" Billy Tauzin at Grits on Tchoup with visor pulled low and sans wedding ring is simply too precious to be anything but the absolute truth.

Loyola grad running LSU? 

The T-P has a good run-down of the ins and outs of NASA director Sean O'Keefe's departure from the space program and his shot at running LSU. He's a fellow Loyola alum, so he has to be better than anyone else LSU was considering, but the interesting thing in the Pic article came in the middle. Considering what we know about the Bush administration's demand of loyalty from all sectors of government, unnamed White House official's discussions about O'Keefe's non-existent future at NASA are fun to consider:
John Logsdon, director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, said in an interview on Sunday that it was generally believed in Washington that O'Keefe was hoping for a high position at the Pentagon during the second Bush administration, The New York Times reported.

"He got things pointed in the right direction at NASA, which he expected at the beginning to be a short-term job," Logsdon said. "When nothing opened up in Washington on his level, he looked elsewhere. He's let it be known that he's always enjoyed the academic life."

In Washington, a government official told the Associated Press that O'Keefe plans to resign this week.

"The White House still has to decide how it wants to announce his departure," said the government official, who refused to be named. The White House had no official comment Sunday night.


Despite O'Keefe's appointment with the search committee on Thursday, the Washington official told The Associated Press that O'Keefe's resignation is not linked to an offer from LSU. The official said the resignation probably will come earlier than the scheduled meeting in Louisiana.
I have a lot more respect for the guys that get pushed out of government by the White House than I do for the people that get promoted at this point, so if the Bush administration decided that O'Keefe wasn't playing ball they way they wanted him to, I'll have that many more good tidings for him. Of course, going to run LSU would be almost worse than working in the White House, but a guy's got to make a buck. Anyway, from that quote up there it looks like there's a lot more backstory to his resignation than we know. Unfortunately I don't that a Pic staff writer is quite the man for getting to the bottom of it, but it's a start.

What to say? 

State Hospitals chief Fred Cerise says the state should only pay for people with erectile dysfunction to have sex once a month. I'm a bit torn about this, but it looks like one of those policies that would anger a lot of people who might not be willing to say anything about it. One imagines that in that far off time in the future when Viagara ever goes generic that this won't be such a problem anymore, but until then it looks like Medicaid recipients in Louisiana interested in getting it on with any degree of frequency are SOL.

As for the "internal discussions" about ending payments for circumcisions, I doubt there's anything anti-Semitic about it, but I suspect there would be quite a bit more public disapproval for that particular [budget] cut.

No new taxes 

Melinda Deslatte says the latest Congressional races made it all the more unlikely that any legislators who actually have ambitions for higher office will vote for any kind of tax increase. If you live in either of those final two districts or inside the same television market, then you almost definitely saw almost the exact same ad attacking Charlie Melancon and Willie Mount for "raising taxes while voting to give themselves a back door/indirect pay raise." Willie Mount is about as conservative as any Republican Congressperson in most of the country. She's probably more conservative than, say, a Republican Congressperson from New York or Connecticut. LABI and other business groups regularly rated her fairly highly for "pro-growth" (read tax cuts for small businesses) policy positions, but that didn't stop the NRCC from painting her as just another tax and spend liberal. Between these charges, the money disadvantage, and the obvious problems with the black community, she lost her chance at Congress.

I'm not sure the consequences will be so dire, but Boustany's victory does leave the impression that the surest way to Congress is to be rich and totally devoid of a record. There's really nothing to attack, as the Democrats threw everything against a wall but nothing stuck. Boustany managed to paint himself as a moderate (as if that matters in today's GOP, where Boustany took money from Tom DeLay and Bobby Jindal, the new assistant whip in the majority party, whose job it will be to tell people like Boustany that they have to vote with the majority. His job much easier after he threw money from his overflowing warchest at Boustany and other candidates in close races all over the country), and benefited from the rest of the perfect storm against the Lake Charles Democrat.

Sigh, meanwhile Republicans are popping out the britches with excitement at their prospects in Louisiana over the next four years. Fortunately Democrats have three years to get their acts together. Not to mention there's the three years for the national Republicans to overreach and screw our nation up so bad that the state party hacks get punished by associations.

Keeping up with the Joneses 

The state released its brand new website for checking up on your neighbors to make sure you're not getting screwed on your property tax assessment. Not all parishes are participating yet, and this article warns of a lot of problems with the new website while the computer nerds work out the glitches, but this here is a good thing for Louisiana, even if it is unbelieveably slow right now.

Unfortunately, the database won't include the names of the property owners, but it's a start for making this system more fair. And if you remember that Archie Manning paid nearly half-a-million bucks for a home that was later assessed around a quarter of a million, then you know the assessing in some places isn't even close to fair.

At any rate, this is a start for making this system more equitable and less likely for corruption, but hopefully state lawmakers don't end here.

12 December 2004

Sunday Papers 

The state news is thin this weekend, so I'll only link you to a couple of things this morning. The first is John LaPlante's column discussing the Governor's efforts to straddle the fence on gay rights issues. I addressed this a few days ago, but LaPlante manages to explain the political concerns the Governor faces. Whatever the case, it makes some sense.

From the Chris Rose is in heaven department, his column from yesterday manages to provide our quote of the weekend. As always, read the whole thing because it's all over the map with star-gossip, but I'll only point this part out:
[Burt Reynolds] was in town on break from the Baton Rouge-area set of "Dukes of Hazzard." It was a sports weekend with friends for the former star halfback from Florida State; he was someone's guest in a suite at the Dome for the Saints game Sunday and my thinking is: That's no way to treat visiting dignitaries.

Why not just take him to get a brake tag? With maybe a side trip to the auto impound lot down on Claiborne? These are fun local things to do, also.
Also in today's Pic, NOLA businessman are concerned about the early Carnival season. And at least one scenario has Bacchus organizers very concerned about the attendance at what I think is the absolute A+, #1 parade of the Mardi Gras season (Bacchus this year falls on Superbowl Sunday, but that on its own probably isn't enough to seriously stifle turnout for the SuperKrewe):
Perhaps the biggest wild card for Bacchus is the question of who will play in the Super Bowl, which will not be answered until National Football League conference champions are crowned Jan. 23. If either team is headed by quarterbacks Peyton or Eli Manning, local viewership of the game could surge and crowds along the parade route could be thinned, Kelly said.
The chances of an Eli-led Giants team making it to the Superbowl are obviously pretty slim, but Indy's rolling through a strong season right now, and the Manning fetish among New Orleans regulars is probably strong enough to hurt Bacchus. I don't care who's playing in the 'bowl this year, I think I'm going to Bacchus one way or the other. There's nothing like it.

As always, don't forget to watch the weekly smack down dealt out to Saints fans by a team that doesn't give a damn one way or the other if they win or lose. Happy Sunday.


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