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14 February 2008

Tony Tramel Is Crazy 

Speed lumps on lightly traveled streets, tiny brick and mortar "roundabouts" in lieu of stop signs, and now five-light sequence for traffic instructions that used to be managed by "GREEN, YELLOW, and RED".

Tony Trammel is our Traffic and Transportation director in the Lafayette Consolidated Government. Instead of working to solve the actual big problems of congestion in our city, he's concerned with idiotic measure that do little but confuse drivers and damage their automobiles' suspensions.

Sources near me who used to work for him don't have the best words for Mr. Tramel, either.

...

in retrospect, the more I read how this works, the more "logical" it sounds. Unfortunately, with traffic signaling there's something to be said for a little thing called "uniformity. It's completely illogical to have a single traffic signal in a whole city display strange instructions to motorists. How would I even know what to do if I came upon this intersection? Do they have accompanying instructions on a sign hanging next to the signal? Are we just supposed to figure it out?

Get out your brooms crumb catchers 

I guess it didn't take long for our "landmark" ethics legislation to hit some snags.

Jeremy Alford had a good piece about this out this week too. With things up and actually moving now, it's late to quote it, but his concluding remarks are worth posting here.

Overall, Jindal's final call appears to be a far cry from his promises of transparency and "gold standards" during last year's campaign. Then again, once a bill enters the legislative process, there's no telling what it could come out looking like. No matter what happens during the special session, Jindal's supporters will credit him for trying to do more than any other governor in the area of ethics reform, although critics are already saying it's a hastily thrown together effort.

In his attempt to give voters quick action, Jindal may have reached too far too soon. He could still come out a winner if he can organize his parade a little better and bring the Legislature into line.


I don't know if Jindal reached "too far". I just don't think he quite realizes the stranglehold our legislators have on certain "perks" of membership. I heard Don Trahan on the radio last week or the week before mocking the idea that legislators and their families should even consider not entering in to contracts with the state. He acted as though it were a request made by little green men from outer space. I think he even said something to the effect of "why would you even get in to politics?"

There's a long way to go. Jindal maybe shouldn't have done this RIGHT NOW. But honest effort followed by more honest effort, followed by appeals to state voters and campaigning against bad legislative apples could accomplish his goals (if they're actually his goals, and not just small talk foreshadowing a presidential run) to some satisfactory measure over two terms in office. I just hope that meager achievements in this legislative session don't turn in to a big "we've saved Louisiana" press release and then the end of ethics reform in our state until some other governor takes office in the future.

13 February 2008

Obama 

Jeffrey takes on the a-historical cultists and really doesn't say anything disagreeable...

Oyster responds.

Meanwhile, I think Jeffrey laid out an entire class I took on "The American Left", in which the primary objective of the course work was to define the difference between "radical" and merely "liberal".

Speaking from my own anecdotal experience (and I read a lot fewer blogs these days so maybe I just don't see the same cultists all over the place as Jeffrey does), of all my acquaintances and family who are supporting Obama, most don't believe him to be the second coming of MLK, Jr.

What he does represent is a radical departure from the process of the last few decades. I don't buy the Obama is Reagan argument that Oyster was throwing around a few weeks ago either. I think Oyster gave Reagan's warm & charming routine in the debates (watch the millions of votes move) more credit than it was worth. How Reagan actually governed and the divisive way he ran when he wasn't on television in front of millions of voters at once shouldn't be discounted when looking at his victory.

I actually believe that Obama means to change PROCESS. When he's in a tight spot, will he go to corporate donors and the Democratic Party to do the dirty work of politics for him, or will he take what he believes in directly to the people? I believe in the latter. That means something to me. Am I wrong? Maybe so, but it's a bet where even if I lose, it's still better than another four to eight years with a Clinton in the White House.

Hell, honesty to debate and process was the core value I hoped to bring to my own blog. We're better than the nasty politics we've seen in the thirty years. I don't think Obama believes he can change the world. However, I believe him when he says he wants to change American politics. I think it's important. I don't think that makes him Martin Luther King, Jr. Maybe lots of folks out there do, but why burst their bubble? Wait until he's a failed president. It's like telling a bunch of children Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren't real.

Local Interest 

The city has finally put it's plan to redesign Johnston Street from University to Doucet/Vital to the public. This has been a long time coming, and I'll be the first to say that whatever they want to do, fund it. Johnston St. is our most traveled thoroughfare, and it's an eyesore worse than Jeff Highway in NOLA. Powerlines stretch the distance of the strip; businesses clutter the sight-lines with signs; and every move to the center lane to turn left is met with the fear of a head-on collision.

I don't know if these idiots at SaveJohnstonStreet.org are still around, but if you want the "other side", have at it over at there place.

Right now funding of the project is up in the air. Maybe RedFlex tickets can pay for a big portion of it.

The folks at the UL Community Design school give the positives better than I do, so I'll quote:

Johnston Street is a sad reflection on our postindustrial society. It is ubiquitous nowhere, shouting 20th century commercialism and offering living proof of the cancerous urban sprawl to which our society has become victim. In the preens of progress, the automobile has come to dominate our built environment, and our public realm has sacrificed its aesthetic identity and, most importantly, its safety. The result is erosion of our community’s individuality, and the unregulated sprawl has reduced us to a homogenous [sic] society seduced by speed and convenience.


A .pdf brochure with conceptual designs of the project can be seen at the link. Saying "funding is up in the air" is really an understatement. I hope the city council is committed to this. The vote I placed in our elections last fall was primarily based on the voluble support my councilman gave to making this happen.

12 February 2008

Timshel History 

The Origins of Ricky Prado

reprint from here (sorry lots of the links there are dead now, so I didn't copy them).

I'll let you in on one of those details about my life that I usually don't let get in to the blog too often. Many of you ought to know by now that I write this under something of a nom de plume. I'm fairly guarded when it comes to my private life, and I don't really think this blog is the place for it any way. But the latest round of anti-smoking Truth ads are out, and over at FairEnough.com you can view a commercial that happens to intersect with my life in an interesting enough manner. Just click on the "Urban Hipsters" ad that they've released for February and pay attention.

Back when I was living in New Orleans I had a close friend who was working for a local marketing firm that was handling a New Orleans promotions account for a MAJOR tobacco company. As a smoker, this was great for me. I got all kinds of free cigarettes. In fact, I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that I probably didn't pay for a pack of cigarettes in as long as a year--and probably longer--even though I was smoking as much as a pack a day during the time. At any rate, one of his jobs was to put together an advertisement designed to run in New Orleans weeklies that featured a new "New Orleans Night Owl" for each issue. It goes without saying that the ads were designed to look like they were part of the layout of the newspaper and not an advertisement bought and paid for by our offending cigarette company.

Slacker that my friend was, he didn't necessarily always feel like actually finding a man about town to picture and talk about in the ads, so one day he decided to send in an old picture of yours truly with a little write-up of just how "hip" and "about the town" I was. The result is Ricky Prado, DJ extraordinaire and one-time New Orleans trend-setter. At the time I didn't care much, and I still don't, but now that a major advertising campaign has been initiated to shed light on the subject, I thought I might let you know about my little role in the affair.

Over at Slate.com, Seth Stevenson has talked about how effective he believes these ads are because they appeal to some cool and cynical streak in adolescents, and he may have a point.

However, it's probably also worthwhile to consider the effectiveness of the cigarette manufacturer's promotion when they were actually spending money on this project. This was back when this particular company was rolling out new products, and they accompanied the roll out with parties and heavy promotions appealing to "the hip" set. They hosted parties for NOLA bartenders that were full of free alcohol and smokes; they sponsored parties for the public that gave out smokes and drink specials. And despite more or less everyone attending being "savvy" enough to know that it was all a cheap gimmick to get them hooked on a particular brand, they came, they got their free smokes, and a fair amount of them probably bought them again.

That's the unfortunate truth for people that are already hooked, but we're not the target of the "Fair Enough" campaign anyway.

Whatever the case, no one would ever mistake me for any kind of "urban hipster," so I guess in the end the joke was on the people who were foolish enough to pay my friend and expect him to actually do the work they asked of him. I do wonder if anyone ever saw that advertisement and wondered just who the hell Ricky Prado was, or tried to find a way to book him for anything.

You can still see the Ricky Prado biography at IMDB.com should the mood strike you.

rE-form 

Get out your brooms.

The legislative committees seem to be acquiescent to Jindal's proposals so far. We'll see what the full legislature has to say when the time comes.

Meanwhile, this is interesting:

No one can seem to figure out how it all got started or exactly why it’s being done, but right in the middle of what is supposed to be a special session devoted to reforming ethics in Louisiana government, an all out assault has been launched on the Louisiana Ethics Board.


"No one cane seem to figure out...", huh? Jim makes pretty clear in his report on this matter that this looks like payback to ethics board's continued insistence on getting to "the bottom" (is there a bottom, the whole thing looks cut and dry to me?) of the Jindal campaign's failure to disclose those monies they received from the LAGOP during this latest gubernatorial run. . . . More on this particular matter here.

[Stephen] Waguespack, [Jindal’s deputy chief of staff] said the Governor’s Office is comfortable with the overhaul and that similar systems have worked well in other states.

Some lawmakers who have been targeted by the board also favor the change.


More on that story here, too.

More T-P coverage on these ethics items here & here as well. Meanwhile, Gannett covers Jindal's roll through Senate committee this way.

Happy reading . . .

11 February 2008

Hah 

This is funny. I have my reservations about the somewhat reactionary opposition to my fair city's "Safe Speed" program, but one of their most persuading arguments is the revulsion to "enforcement for profit".

According to data provided by Lafayette Consolidated Government's Traffic and Transportation Department, four notices were sent to the Lafayette Police Department, one of which was dismissed.

In the other three cases, drivers were recorded traveling 67 mph in a 50-mph zone, 72 miles per hour in a 50-mph zone and 62 miles per hour in a 50-mph zone.

Of the three officers cited, none were responding to calls, according to Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft, who said each officer had to pay for their ticket and were then subjected to disciplinary action.

One was returning from the firing range, one was going to the firing range and the other was coming from getting fuel or taking care of his unit, Craft said.


Maybe if they weren't spending so much time at firing range they could be enforcing city traffic laws?

According to the article fifty government vehicles have been cited by Redflex cameras. I wonder if they'll have their credit threatened too.

Holy Shit?!? 

I thought the only things streetcars hit were cars trying to make ill-advised left turns.

10 February 2008

Race Matters 

About one in 10 white Clinton voters and roughly as many black Obama voters did say race was the single most important factor in their vote. Similar numbers of female Clinton voters and male Obama voters said gender was the most important factor.


At least they're being honest...

LBR 

Normally I don't give much care on the day Grammy Awards are handed out, but my friends with The Lost Bayou Ramblers are up for the first Cajun/Zydeco award recognized by the "Academy" today. So count this is as my toast of good luck to them.

The album that earned them their nomination is "LIVE: a la BLUE MOON". Click here to listen to sample tracks and/or purchase the album. For a little history on it, they recorded it at the Blue Moon Saloon & Guest House in Lafayette at more or less the exact time the Saints were defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the Superdome in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs of 2007. There's a strange rendition of "Who Dat?" on the album that would seem out of place if you didn't know this little tidbid about the recording atmosphere.

Offbeat published a great story about the "intrigue" surrounding this year's awards. There are a lot of people concerned that Lisa Haley--a Los Angeles based musician who has "modernized" the music for contemporary tastes--may actually win the Grammy when it's all said and done.

LBR drummer Chris Courville gets the last word in the article, and he makes a good point about how hard it actually will be to satisfy the hard-core followers and performers of these kinds of music.

“Not so many people would mind if it wasn’t someone from Louisiana,” Courville observes. “It’s her in particular and association with comments she’s made. Though honestly, people would complain if it was someone from only as far away as Shreveport.”


Greg dug up a pretty terrible video of Lisa Haley which is definitely worth looking at. Dear God, please at least have been drunk. Or maybe it was a tape she sent to "America's Funniest Home Videos."



...

Update 1813 2/10/08
Looks like it was Terrance Simien. Nothing to cry about there.

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