1. 'Voice of the Saints' dies at 86
Jerry Romig, public address announcer and "voice of the New Orleans Saints" for 44 years, died Dec. 23 at 86. The New Orleans native had a long career as a sportswriter and public relations executive as well as a volunteer and civic booster; his work history included stints as a fundraiser for the New Orleans Archdiocese, vice president of WDSU-TV and president of WLAE-TV, the public broadcasting station he helped found.
In 1969, Romig began announcing Saints games, eventually retiring in 2013 due to declining health. That year, he received the Joe Genelli Fleur de Lis Award from the Saints Hall of Fame. He was replaced in the booth by his son Mark, one of his several children. He is survived by them, his wife Janice and many grandchildren, as well as the many foster children his family helped raise.
2. Blanco: Jindal didn't have 'courage to veto'
"He didn't guard the public trust. He didn't have enough courage to veto — and some of those people, both Democrats and Republicans, were testing him." — Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, talking to Lafayette's The Independent about the fiscal legacy of her successor, outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"They were playing with him when they went after the Stelly tax cut to take the whole thing down," Blanco added. "They thought he would veto it, and I told them, 'You are wrong.' I said, 'This governor will never veto a tax cut; he's going to sign every one, and you're digging yourselves into a hole that you're not going to be able to get out of.' And that's exactly what they did."
3. Sharper to be
sentenced in March
Former New Orleans Saints defensive back Darren Sharper will be sentenced in March in Nevada in connection with a felony sexual assault plea deal. Women in California, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana reported Sharper had drugged and sexually assaulted them. Under Sharper's "global" four-state plea agreement, he is expected to spend about 10 years in federal prison.
4. Equality objects to state's LGBT ranking
The statewide LGBT rights group Equality Louisiana took issue with the Human Rights Campaign's recently issued Municipal Equality Index (MEI), which rates American cities and metro areas by their LGBT-friendly laws. While New Orleans scored a typically high 91 (out of 100), the rest of the state fared dismally. Shreveport's 64 was next highest, while Baton Rouge notched 32, Metairie 26, Lafayette 12 and Lake Charles only 6.
"The data reported does not match up with the experiences and findings of local activists and community organizations, and the broad method for generating these numerical scores omits important details," Equality Louisiana said in a statement.
5. Uptown drainage
Property owners near the construction of major new drainage canals across Uptown New Orleans are asking a judge to intervene in the management of the project contracts, seeking an end to ongoing delays. Attorney Michael Whitaker and residents along several construction corridors announced that they have filed a class action suit asking a federal judge to appoint a "special master" to oversee the work. They are asking for an injunction in the case — not to stop the work but to speed it up, Whitaker said. The long periods of apparent inactivity on the project would not be tolerated anywhere else, he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined to respond to the allegations, citing a policy against commenting on pending litigation. The most recent estimate for a completion date on Prytania Street is February 2016.
6. Murray moving
New Orleans state Sen. Ed Murray, who was term limited this election cycle, will join the administration at LSU Health Sciences Center as vice chancellor for multicultural and community affairs. Murray announced his new job to friends and supporters last week when they threw him a surprise appreciation party at Martin Wine Cellar Uptown. Murray told Gambit his new duties will include promoting the institution — which includes LSU's medical school and five other health-related schools — throughout the community and with the new John Bel Edwards administration in Baton Rouge. Murray begins his new assignment on Inauguration Day, Jan. 11.
If NCIS: New Orleans, Treme and American Horror Story: Coven didn't slake your thirst for hometown drama, you might try Apparition. Fox TV is developing the hourlong show, which the website Deadline.com says "centers on a successful New Orleans doctor who is reluctantly pulled into the world of paranormal investigation when she discovers a secret family history that awakens an ability to connect with the afterlife." A pilot is currently in development.
8. Monumental lawsuit
Within hours of the New Orleans City Council's 6-1 vote to remove four contentious monuments, four groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the
council's action in a 12-count, 51-page complaint. Plaintiffs include the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans that argues it paid for construction of two monuments. The suit alleges violations of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Veterans Memorial and Preservation Act. The suit also claims the city "intentionally discriminated against defenders of these four monuments." The suit targets federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, alleging that streetcar repairs (using federal dollars) damaged the monuments.
City officials won't remove the monuments before the case is heard on Thursday, Jan. 14.
9. The state's new first lady
Donna Edwards, wife of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards, met the press last week to discuss her priorities. She's a teacher and will support arts programs in schools. She also discussed the Jan. 11 inauguration of her husband on the Capitol steps in Baton Rouge, which will include a flyover by the Louisiana Air National Guard. Meanwhile, a widely circulated photograph by blogger Lamar White Jr. showed a United Van Lines truck parked in front of the Governor's Mansion — Gov. Bobby Jindal's family, it seems, spent part of the Christmas holiday packing up.
10. Throw me
Mardi Gras is early this year — Feb. 9 — and the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians will stage its annual Carnival ball at the Washington Hilton in Washington D.C. Jan. 23. The krewe puts on an annual black-tie party for politicos and friends, and has been a tradition since the 1940s.
This year's theme is "Rollin' on the River," and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is chairman of the affair. He has selected New Orleans attorney James McClendon Williams as king and Tulane University student Anna Haspel Aronson as queen. The krewe captain is U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who took over the honors from former Sen. Mary Landrieu.