NOTE: This post, originally titled "The Dirty Dozen," has been updated to include the names of ALL area lawmakers who voted for Senate Bill 469, which is designed to kill the regional flood authority's environmental lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies. In this update report, I include all metro area lawmakers, not just those whose districts lie in the geographic boundaries of the flood protection authority.
LATER UPDATE: After playing phone tag for more than a day, state Sen. JP Morrell and I spoke and he explained that he was always AGAINST SB 469. He voted against it the first time it was considered by the full Senate. When it returned from the House for concurrence in the House amendment, Morrell said, he was not in the Senate Chamber. However, someone voted his machine in his absence, casting a vote FOR the bill. "I went to the mic to speak against the bill when it came up the first time," Morrell said. "Had I been in the Senate when it came back, I would have voted against it again." It is not unusual for lawmakers' machines to be "voted" for them in their absence, and occasionally it leads to mistaken votes such as Morrell's on SB 469. The story below has been revised to account for Morrell's explanation of his second vote.
Twenty-one state lawmakers from flood-prone southeast Louisiana parishes (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. John, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany) voted for a bill to retroactively kill a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies. Voters in those areas overwhelmingly oppose legislative attempts to kill the lawsuit, which means those local lawmakers put the interests of Big Oil ahead of their constituents’ interests.
Eighteen area legislators voted against the bill to kill the lawsuit, and four area House members were absent for the final vote. Being absent for a floor vote is equivalent to voting "no" because bills require 20 "yes" votes in the Senate and 53 "yes" votes in the House regardless of how many lawmakers are present.
Worst of all, the area lawmakers who voted for the bill more than made the difference in its passage in both the Senate and the House. Seven area state senators voted for the bill, which passed by a margin 25-11. In the House, 15 area representatives voted for the bill, which passed by a margin of 59-39.
The current geographic boundaries of SLFPA-E's jurisdiction include the East Bank of Orleans and Jefferson parishes, plus St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa. Lawmakers recently passed, and Gov. Bobby Jindal signed, a bill creating a separate St. Tammany Levee District outside the jurisdiction of SLFPA-E, but hurricanes and storm surges don't respect political boundaries or acts of the Louisiana Legislature.
The SLFPA-E lawsuit seeks to hold the named energy defendants responsible for their share of damages to coastal wetlands. Contrary to the meme put forth by Big Oil and its political lackeys (Gov. Jindal chief among them), the suit was never intended to make the energy industry solely accountable for coastal land loss. From Day One, supporters of the lawsuit and attorneys for SLFPA-E stated that several factors contributed to coastal erosion. The lawsuit was simply aimed at getting the energy industry to pay its fair share.
Thanks to a slick procedural maneuver in the state Senate — and support from some local lawmakers — that lawsuit now appears doomed, unless a constitutional challenge can restore some sense of fairness and equity to Louisiana’s judicial system. The maneuver was a bait-and-switch that allowed the original version of Senate Bill 469, by Sen. Robert Adley, a Republican from the north Louisiana town of Benton, to be gutted in a Senate committee and reconstituted as a bill to kill the lawsuit. Adley, who is an oil-and-gas businessman, ranks among the leading opponents of the floor authority lawsuit.
The New Orleans Film Society has postponed tonight's scheduled Moonlight Movies screening of Jazz on a Summer's Day at the Old U.S Mint. No new date has been announced, presumably because the weather forecast currently says there's a good chance of rain for another week or so. Welcome to summer!
In consolation, we offer this clip from the film featuring Chuck Berry in his 1958 glory performing "Sweet Little Sixteen" with a bunch of jazz cats who look like they've never rocked it before, but don't seem to mind one bit:
Options Clause Entertainment LLC, an affiliate of S2BN Entertainment, announced today the cancellation of the Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular Tour. The tour was scheduled to kick off in New Orleans on June 9. All purchased tickets will be refunded. Tickets purchased online and via telephone will be automatically refunded. Tickets purchased from outlets/venue box office must be returned to that location for refund.The tour had gotten much publicity for its casting of pop stars from various genres, including John Lydon (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), Michelle Williams (Destiny's Child), JC Chasez ('N Sync) and Brandon Boyd (Incubus). British TV reality star Ben Forster, who was playing Jesus, tweeted that the cancellation came in the middle of a rehearsal:
With recent movies like Killer Joe, Mud and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, it seems we have arrived quietly at some kind of golden age for Southern Gothic cinema. Cold in July probably ranks a bit below those exceptional films, but that doesn’t stop this sinister thriller from wearing its black heart on its blood-soaked sleeve. Based on Joe R. Lansdale’s crime novel and set in late-1980s East Texas (the recent Southern Gothics have successfully annexed Texas, thankfully preventing the rise of Southwestern Gothic), Cold in July’s twists and turns finally arrive at a place completely unimaginable based on the events of the film’s first 30 minutes or so. Some seriously hokey dialogue undermines a few scenes, but it’s not enough to break the spell. It’s amazing how effective a little unpredictability can be.
Co-writer and director Jim Mickle has previously made indie horror movies like Mulberry Street and Stake Land, and there are early signs that Cold in July may be heading down that road. But Mickle intentionally mixes up his genres here, from detective fiction to buddy movies. Sharing in the mischief is Michael C. Hall (TV’s Dexter) as a mild-mannered businessman with a mullet who sets things in motion by accidentally shooting an intruder in his home. But the movie really belongs to two aging stars ready to bare their souls on screen: Sam Shepard, and none other than Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame. As flamboyant private detective Jim Bob Luke, Johnson rolls into the movie driving a 1970s Dakota-red Cadillac Eldorado convertible and proceeds to chew whatever scenery may be at hand. Nothing succeeds quite like success.
Cold in July begins an exclusive run today, May 30, at Zeitgeist Movies. More info here.
It seems the life of a suburban teenager hasn’t changed much in recent decades, at least according to writer-director Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto. A third-generation filmmaker — 27-year-old granddaughter of Francis (who makes an off-screen cameo here by providing the voice of a juvenile judge) and niece of Sofia — Gia Coppola captures all the familiar aimlessness and intensity of teenage life with her first feature film. She adapted the Palo Alto screenplay from the book Palo Alto Stories at the request of author James Franco (who also appears in the film). The results are impressionistic and driven by the kind of finely drawn characters seldom seen in teen-centered films.
Apart from Emma Roberts, who stars as high school good-girl April and comes across with her most affecting performance yet, the ensemble cast consists mostly of actual teenagers who talk and dress like the real thing — not the mid-20s professional-actor types so often cast in roles like these. Their muddled responses to casually predatory adults (such as Franco’s smooth-talking girls’ soccer coach Mr. B) or their own weed-baked parents (Palo Alto is set in the medical marijuana-infused present) consistently ring true. Those in need of an epic story should look elsewhere, but there’s a subtlety of feeling in Palo Alto that gives it the air of a promising debut.
Palo Alto begins an exclusive run today, May 30, at Zeitgeist Movies. More info here.
Bar Redux, a neighborhood bar serving up traditional comfort food and creative Caribbean fare, has opened in the former location of barbecue stalwart The Joint on Poland Avenue.
While many wondered about the fate of the space unassuming building when The Joint relocated to a larger digs last year, Bar Redux has made the space a unique standout with a colorful, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test-style paint job and vintage neon "BAR" sign.
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