Mary Landrieu

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Daily Beast congratulates Mitch Landrieu on school reform

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 8:48 AM

There’s no question that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has crafted an image as a creative, modern-thinking chief executive. And this week, The Daily Beast/Newsweek recognized him as such when it featured Landrieu as one of the “Most Innovative Mayors in the U.S.”

There’s just one catch: The innovation that earned him the prized spot on the roster, the dramatic transformation of the city’s public schools, wasn’t exactly his.

“Under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the Crescent City has aggressively embraced education reform,” the piece says. “The result is a sea change in public education. Consider this: nationwide, just 4 percent of students attend charter schools. In New Orleans, nearly 80 percent of parents choose charters. Seven years after Katrina, the dropout rate has been cut in half, while test scores have soared by double digits.”

The specific actions that Landrieu is described as taking are actually correct, and there’s no evidence that his team oversold his role. The piece rightly points out that City Hall doesn’t control the school system, and that Landrieu has championed charters, campaigned for “reform” candidates, fought for a ground-breaking $1.8 billion lump sum from FEMA to rebuild facilities, and pursued philanthropic support.

But to make him the face of the movement — or suggest that the epic changes originated in the city and not in Baton Rouge — is as misleading as handing that honor to Gov. Bobby Jindal, another ambitious supporter who also gets plenty of national attention for his role.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Y@ Speak: A 'more robust' edition

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM

This holiday-delayed Y@ Speak starts off with delightful tweets about sperm cake, a sex clown and a cat named "Money Chicken," but takes a dark turn with reactions to that news from last week.

Excuse me while I get personal for a second. As someone who grew up here (in Metairie, specifically), the Times-Picayune has been one of those inextricable aspects of my life that I, admittedly, have taken for granted at times. Having the paper around the house was how I learned to read. It's how I learned I wanted to be a writer. It's also how I learned there was no such thing as Santa Claus — from a Living section article titled, I'm pretty sure, "How to tell your child there's no such thing as Santa Claus' — because I was a bit too precocious a child. This weekend, my dad — an avid consumer of local news — made a joke that when he dies, "he's not going to find out about it until Wednesday."

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu honored by Humane Society

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 10:29 AM

It seems Louisiana's senators can agree on one thing besides oil and gas: animal welfare. The Humane Society of the United States has named Sen. David Vitter as one of its two 2011 "Humane Legislators of the Year" for his work on animal-related legislation:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was named the Humane Senator of the Year for his leadership on securing needed funding to strengthen USDA enforcement of key animal welfare laws, as well as on bills to require licensing and inspections of puppy mills selling directly to the public via the Internet or other means (the PUPS Act, S. 707) and to prohibit interstate and foreign commerce in nonhuman primates for the pet trade (the Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1324). Sen. Vitter helped get a bipartisan group of 34 Sens. to join in seeking funding for USDA to improve its oversight of puppy mills, laboratories, zoos, circuses and other regulated facilities; rein in the illegal “soring” of show horses (where trainers inflict severe pain on the animals’ legs and hooves to make it hurt them to step down, so they will exaggerate their high-stepping gait and win prizes); strengthen enforcement of the humane slaughter law; prevent illegal animal fighting; ease a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas and USDA positions through student loan repayment; and help address the needs of animals in disasters. Sen. Vitter also has been a champion over the years on legislation to require accurate labeling of fur apparel regardless of dollar value, to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting, to ban the creation and distribution of obscene animal torture (“crush”) videos, and to strengthen the law against shark finning (cutting the fins off and throwing the rest of the living animals back in the water).

Vitter announced the news himself on his Twitter feed, noting "My fmly adopted rescue dog-Elle-in '09."

Last month, the Humane Society named Sen. Mary Landrieu its "Humane Horsewoman of the Year":

because of her tireless efforts to introduce and gain support for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176/H.R. 2966) in the U.S. Senate. We also recognized her successful efforts as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to help secure a 40 percent increase in funds for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to crack down on criminal soring of Tennessee walking horses in show competitions."

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Poll: Majority of Catholics believe employer health plans should cover contraception

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Catholic Bishops, including New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, say a federal ruling that will require religious-affiliated employers — hospitals and colleges but not places of worship — to provide employee insurance that includes contraception is “an unprecedented attack on our religious liberty, which is a founding principle of our nation.” (Interestingly, here in New Orleans, the Catholic Loyola University now offers contraceptive coverage in its employee health insurance plan, according to the benefits handbook posted on its human resources web page.)

Their parishioners, however, feel differently, at least according to survey results released today by the Public Religion Research Institute. 55 percent of total respondents — and 58 percent of Catholic respondents — told PRRI they believed that employers should provide contraception coverage. When it comes to religiously affiliated hospitals and schools, only 49 percent of total respondents felt the same way. Among Catholics, however, 52 percent again said they felt those institutions should be required to cover birth control as part of their employee insurance.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (a Catholic) has signed on as a cosponsor of a bill, filed by (Catholic) Florida Republican Marco Rubio, that would extend conscience based exemptions to the requirement to any employer, not just religious institutions. Vitter didn't respond to Gambit's request for comment on the issue.

But here's what (Catholic) Sen. Mary Landrieu had to say:

“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 87 percent of Louisiana women of all faiths have used preventive birth control methods — including preventive birth control medication — at some point in their child-bearing years. It is important that these women continue to have access to affordable, preventive birth control under a doctor’s supervision. Equally important, I am sensitive to the position and beliefs of the Catholic Church on this issue. I am taking this issue under advisement, and will be open to views from a wide variety of organizations and individuals.”

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

David Vitter and Steve Scalise withdraw their cosponsorship and support of SOPA/PIPA

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 10:10 PM


Sen. David Vitter:

I won’t be supporting the Protect IP Act (PIPA or SOPA as it's called in the House of Representatives) because, though I've been pushing hard on both internet freedom and national security concerns, they still haven't been fully addressed. It's a real mistake to press forward with a flawed bill now. It will only endanger ever properly dealing with the very real problem of internet piracy.

Rep. Steve Scalise (via his communications director):

Congressman Scalise is committed to stopping online piracy, and will be removing his name from SOPA while he works to ensure that the freedom of the internet is preserved.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is a cosponsor of PIPA in the Senate, expressed her support yesterday in a statement. Today we spoke to a press aide for Rep. Cedric Richmond, whose position on SOPA hasn't been clear. Richmond's aide said he would gather a statement and send it by this afternoon, but nothing arrived.

Several high-profile GOPers bailed on their support of SOPA/PIPA today, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Ill. Sen. Mark Kirk, Ark. Sen. John Boozman and Mo. Sen. Roy Blunt.

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SOPA/PIPA makes for strange bedfellows in Louisiana

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM


By now you're certainly aware of the day of protest over SOPA and PIPA, the House and Senate bills that aim to squelch Internet piracy by, well, squelching the Internet. When you've got both The Hayride and Michael Moore objecting to the bills — for the same reasonswell, Congresspeople, to quote Bill Engvall, here's your sign. Seriously, the Hayride's essay is an excellent one:

Who decides what’s objectionable? Who decides which cases have merit? Who decides when to pull the plug on a site? What are the criteria? Just losing money isn’t enough — we have civil law suits for that.

Remember; all the while you hunt the wolf; he hunts you. You could be the next to suffer some bureaucrat’s knee-jerk reaction to a perceived slight.

I know personally how badly loss of copyright sucks. But loss of the rights to read controversial copy and ideas sucks worse. It’s CENSORSHIP. It’s a bad thing.

Meanwhile, as the SOPA/PIPA protest goes into the afternoon, GOP heavyweights like Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. John Cornyn have backed off their initial support of PIPA (Rubio had even been a cosponsor) — which puts them, like it or not (and they won't) on the side of the Obama administration.

More strange bedfellows: Up in Minnesota, the liberal Democratic Rep. Al Franken is all for SOPA (though his constituents on his Facebook page are most definitely not), while the conservative GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is against it. So: If you're opposed to SOPA/PIPA, you're on Bachmann's side. And Bachmann is on Nancy Pelosi's side. My head is spinning just typing that sentence.

In Louisiana, the strange bedfellows go in reverse. Both Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Sen. David Vitter — who are often at odds both professionally and personally — are not only both supporting PIPA, they're both cosponsoring it. Landrieu provided us with a statement; Vitter's office has ignored our request for one. (That hasn't stopped angry constituents from flooding his Facebook page with comments.)

In the Louisiana House delegation, Republican Rep. Jeff Landry is foursquare against SOPA (he provided us with a two-sentence statement: "This is ridiculous. When is this government intrusion going to stop?"), while his ideological soulmate, Rep. Steve Scalise, is cosponsoring it. Meanwhile, where does Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond stand? He's supposed to get back to us this afternoon (and we'll update this post when he does).

Cats and dogs lying together! Legislators who usually vote in lockstep in fervent disagreement! Bachmann and Pelosi!!!! What's going on here?

Under the cut, Sen. Landrieu's statement about why she's cosponsoring the legislation — in which she seems to be leaving herself some wiggle room.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mary Landrieu gets with the Twitter

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Sen. Mary Landrieu has lagged far behind her GOP counterpart, Sen. David Vitter, in one respect: Landrieu hasn't been down with the Twitter tubes. (Though lately the Vittertwitter has been mostly football-centric, with controversial tweets like "Let's geaux Tigers!" and "Who dat!")

Back in July 2009, I dropped a note to Landrieu's Washington office, asking if she'd ever be joining Twitter, and got this response:

Kevin — The Senator is indeed on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. The Senator’s presence on each of those social networking sites is currently being beefed up. However, there are no plans for the Senator to begin tweeting.

Someone must have given in or changed their mind, because in mid-November, @SenLandrieu made its debut:


And her famous brother, @MayorLandrieu, encouraged his followers to follow his sister the day after the first tweet appeared.

Landrieu is currently at 712 followers, while Vitter is at 12,286. Advantage Vitter — though, as we've noted in this space before, the junior senator has a way to go before he completely masters Facebook.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Save Our Shipyard" demands jobs and future at Avondale Shipyard

Posted By on Sat, Oct 1, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Hundreds participated in a march and rally for Save Our Shipyard, a campaign to keep the Avondale Shipyard open.
  • Hundreds participated in a march and rally for "Save Our Shipyard," a campaign to keep the Avondale Shipyard open.

Avondale Shipyard, Northrop Grumman's sprawling West Bank shipbuilding facility, is set to close in 2013. Rolling layoffs will impact thousands of workers. Local and national campaigns fight, hope (and pray) to keep it open — and this morning, hundreds of union members, laborers, families and others joined a march and rally to help save the shipyard. (Read more in Gambit.)

Hundreds gathered at the foot of Champions Square, carrying signs representing their unions or the campaign to keep the yard open. Mayor Mitch Landrieu shook hands in the crowd before making his way to a small stage and emphasizing the importance of keeping the yard open, both for the Westwego and West Bank communities and New Orleans. "Everyone (here) helped rebuild America," he told the crowd. "Let's get to work."

Among the unions and organizations in the march were NAACP, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and laborers, boilermakers, teachers, musicians and several other local union affiliates.

The police-escorted march began on Poydras Street outside Champions Square and made its way to the Hale Boggs Federal Building several blocks away. Jefferson Parish President John Young and labor leaders, led by the Treme Brass Band and Rev. Jim VanderWeele of New Orleans Interfaith Worker Justice, carried Save Our Shipyard banners and marched in the front. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, and Rep. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego marched among dozens of groups following the lead.

"It's a nuclear bomb," Morrell said of the economic impact of a potential Avondale closure. "And the state doesn't have a sense of urgency."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BP dollars closer to Coast, while oil regulators are "Gestapo"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 12:26 PM

In July, a bipartisan group of Gulf Coast senators introduced the RESTORE Act, which, they promised, would ensure 80 percent of the fines BP incurs from Clean Water Act violations for the Gulf oil disaster would be divvied among states on the Gulf Coast — rather than the feds.

The act passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and now makes its way to the Senate floor.

"This is the most important step Congress can take to ensure that the Gulf Coast recovers from the economic and ecological destruction caused by the oil spill,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu in a statement. “By directing BP penalty money back to the states that are dealing with the clean-up and restoration from this devastating spill, we help ensure that the Gulf Coast continues to thrive for decades to come." Landrieu also thanked Sen. David Vitter, who co-sponsored the bill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, defended his statement that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) is "like the CIA and the Gestapo" when he wasn't able to meet with BOEMRE staff to discuss stalled drilling permits. He defended his choice of words to Politico:

I mean at the end of the day it's a term referencing how the actions are being out there. ... I mean I'm not going to get into this political niceness. You know, it's a fact. The man is not allowing U.S. congressmen to visit their offices. There's something wrong with that. ... The people in my district are suffering down there. I've got no apologies, if anything (BOEMRE director Michael Bromwich) owes me and the people in my district an apology. ...It is what's wrong with Washington in the federal bureaucracy. We — the people of my district along with every other United States citizen — pays their check. It isn't the other way around. No apologies."

In a letter to Landry, Bromwich was none too pleased with being compared to a Nazi: "Your comparison of the minor inconvenience you experienced to the tactics and methods of the Nazi secret police is simply unacceptable from anyone, but especially from a public official.”

Godwin's law states that any discussion or argument ultimately will reduce itself to "Well, you're a Nazi," or, "Well, that makes you Hitler." Apparently we've reached that point in the drilling debate.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

This morning's Katrina memorial in the Lower Ninth Ward: Photos

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Neighborhood residents and local, state, and national dignitaries (including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Senator and keynote speaker Mary Landrieu and District E councilman Jon Johnson, who represents the neighborhood and organized the event) gathered this morning at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial on North Claiborne Avenue between Tennessee and Reynes in the Lower Ninth Ward, to honor the memory of the storm—and the lives lost and altered in its path—that devastated the neighborhood, resulting in a nearly 80 percent population loss between the 2000 and 2010 Census counts.

The event began with a performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter High School band:


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