Monday, February 4, 2013

Y@ Speak: The Beyonce Blackout Bowl edition

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 11:53 AM

New Orleans: You're like a quirky, twentysomething daughter who insists on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her tiny shotgun house in a "weird" part of town. Things are going well at first — no one's arguing about politics and grandma actually seems to enjoy the silken tofu and kale dip — but then you end up burning the turkey.

The great Super Bowl blackout happened after unprecedented amounts of bootyliciousness during the halftime show. But you know what? It's fine. The week leading up to the big event was a fun, decadent time for celebrities, media and regular folks alike; I doubt visitors enjoy themselves this much during Super Bowls in other places. You may have burnt the turkey, but Aunt Cheryl totally wants to come back next year.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Media Day: Ray Lewis, gay marriage, root beer glazes and Edgar Allan Poe

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Joe Flacco summons the masses.
  • Joe Flacco summons the masses.

The Super Bowl Committee estimates more than 5,000 reporters arrived in New Orleans to cover Super Bowl XLVII. Today, buses unloaded them all, seemingly, into the Superdome for Media Day. Fans filled the lower bowl sideline to watch the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens host Q&A sessions with reporters, and reporters from all over the world get one-on-one with the players — attendees could tune in to free personal ear-clip radios to tune into each network or interview stage. Media Day opened to the public for the first time last year in Indianapolis.

Players sat back for an hour to wax philosophic on football, reflect on the season, answer boring questions or repeat answers to repeated questions, and get a little loose in a pre-game stress-free interview setting — or walk around among reporters and goof around on- and off-camera with the media.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis drew the wildebeest reporters to his crocodile trap of seemingly endless Ray Lewisms — "I have dreams. The outside world don't see those dreams. ... People ask why I'm so emotional" — while center Matt Birk confirmed his much-publicized stand against gay marriage: "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman," and attributed his views to his Catholic background.

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Louisiana scores a C+ for government website transparency

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Government transparency watchdog organization Sunshine Review has released its first ever assessment of "proactive disclosure" on state, county, city and school district websites. Based on the group's 10-point transparency checklist — including current and archived budget information, contracts, lobbying activity and contact info for elected representatives — the state of Louisiana scores an overall C-plus, 33 out of 50 states for website transparency, just behind Montana. The top-ranked state was California. Nebraska scored the lowest.

Important to keep in mind: This study only scores government websites, which might not represent be Louisiana's most significant transparency problem. Also see this. And this. And this. There are more.

Of the three subcategories, Louisiana's state website scored the best, with a B-minus. Websites for the state's five largest parishes scored a C-plus, as did the five largest cities. The five largest school districts' websites scored lowest, with a D-plus.

Note: Sunshine Review's report does not say whether it counted Orleans Parish as a single district, as the state does in op-eds, or whether it only examined the Recovery School District, the larger of the two. If the former, it does not say if the website in question is the RSD website, which is hopefully a work in progress, the serviceable Orleans Parish School Board website or the ever-changing state Department of Education website.

Read the report: 2013_Transparency_Report_Card_1_.pdf

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The New Yorker on Letten's office and "online trolls"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten at the Danziger trial verdict in August 2011.
  • U.S. Attorney Jim Letten at the Danziger trial verdict in August 2011.

The recent shakeups and breakups under U.S. Attorney Jim Letten amid an online comment controversy caught the eyes at The New Yorker, where Jack Hitt gives the blow-by-blow in "How Forensic Linguistics Identified Online Trolls in New Orleans." Just how exactly did investigators nail down commenters Henry L. Mencken1951 and eweman as Sal Perricone and Jan Mann?

Here's the (brief) saga of James Fitzgerald, "forensic linguistics" specialist and the FBI agent who helped link the Unabomber to Ted Kaczynski.

And a tip from Hitt: "Heloise-like tip to newbie trolls: don’t create an anonymous handle that includes the year of your own birth (Henry L. Mencken1951) or one that contains a homonym of your own name (eweman)."

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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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Monday, December 17, 2012

Y@ Speak: Blue Christmas

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

With sexy Santas and Jackson Square carolers, it's obvious Christmas is around the corner (although the weather is unseasonably warm). But Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. is just a horrible, sad thing that weighs heavy on the mind during the holidays. Hug your friends and family extra hard!

In other, less terrible news: the Acro-Cats come to town, Bobby Jindal has something to say about birth control, and the Saints get a win.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Y@ Speak: The naughty list

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 1:04 PM

While many — even dive bars — begin to get in the holiday spirit, it seems others are asking to get coal in their stockings this year. From the lovely folks in Atlanta who greeted our Saints in a very mature, adult-like way before their match against the Falcons on Thursday, to local media makers who engaged in a full-on Twitter cat fight (a group tweakout, if you will), the naughty list is growing before our eyes. Also this week: Comic Con, a really dumb moment courtesy of a New Orleans ambulance driver and Jon Vilma entertains us, as always.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

News of the day: Zoe Sullivan on Pretrial Services; The Lens on deliberative process; T-P tours Grand Isle Shipyard bunkhouse

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

A few interesting news items:

Last week I wrote a little bit about the Vera Pretrial Services budget controversy, specifically critics' comparison of the program to the Philadelphia Pretrial Services Division. Independent journalist Zoe Sullivan has since done an interview with Orleans Parish First Assistant District Attorney Graymond Martin, who speaks at length about pretrial services. Martin, who used to represent the commercial bail industry, responds to that industry's criticism of the program.

Zoe Sullivan: "New Orleans Public Affairs Podcast: First Assistant District Attorney Graymond Martin"

Also, The Lens' Tyler Bridges has a story on the Jindal administration's use of the "deliberative process privilege" to shield public records. Bridges interviews a few state legislators who suggest the privilege may face a challenge during next year's legislative session.

The Lens: "Jindal administration invoking 2009 law to shield public records"

Finally, the Times-Picayune has been doing fantastic work following up on allegations that Grand Isle Shipyard, which employed some of the people aboard the Black Elk energy platform that caught fire last week, has been mistreating workers brought here from the Philippines.

Yesterday, the T-P posted a story in which Grand Isle president Mark Pregeant gives Richard Thompson a tour of the company's Galliano bunkhouse.

Further reading:

Pregeant's court statement on the bunkhouse, filed in federal court last July.


Statements from the plaintiff workers, filed in response to Pregeant's statement


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Orleans named America's Best City

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM


Oh, Travel + Leisure. You thought you had us pegged as a smelly town with some OK food likely eaten by total freaks or whatever you think hipsters are.

We've had some fun little scraps these past several months, Travel + Leisure. We know you just love a good click-through slideshow article to grab our attentions and have us write reactionary blogs as you bathe in a money jacuzzi — we know you love us. C'mon. You do.

We almost broke you last year, but this time, we're Number One. In your annual poll, New Orleans topped the list of "America's Best Cities":

The Crescent City is the ultimate crowd-pleaser: it scored in the top five in more than half of the survey’s categories. These high marks run the gamut from the quite civilized—fine dining, architecture, and antiques—to the boisterously unpretentious, such as its top-rated music scene and the colorful people-watching.

When we tabulated the overall popularity results—those cities with the most top-five rankings across the 66 categories—a clear winner emerged. New Orleans scored in the top five in more than half of the survey’s categories, from fine dining, architecture, and antiques to the entertaining people-watching and its No. 1-ranked music scene.

Also, here's a satisfying graphic you can recreate with the city-to-city face-off:



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Y@ Speak: Bye, Times-Picayune

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 10:23 AM

This weekend we said goodbye to the the daily Times-Picayune and our favorite reporters who worked there. That loss dovetailed with another loss, that by the Saints, so what a dumb weekend. Also this week: Louisiana people on The Voice, the Fiona Apple show, replacement refs, and people have opinions about Treme.

(Also, sorry for the delay. Your tweet forager was a bit under the weather yesterday.)

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