Monday, March 27, 2017

Y@ Speak: briefly

Posted By on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 7:30 PM

Before we enter the fifth season (Festival), we prepare the trinity: Disaster capitalism, football stuff and Ken Polite dancing his way out of court. Also this week: Most of New Orleans didn't vote, and Louisiana's members of Congress were first in line to console the president.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Louisiana women won't receive equal pay until 2115, study predicts

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 9:44 AM


According to new projections released today by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the wage gap for women in Louisiana won't close until the year 2115. In the report, Louisiana joins just three other states — North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — in failing to close the gap until the 22nd century.

The group's analysis considered the ratio of women's to men's earnings for full-time workers and how that ratio has changed over time since 1959. The wage gap can cost a woman many thousands of dollars over the course of her career and contributes to lifestyle issues such as difficulty saving for retirement — a serious problem for women, who typically live longer than men.

City and state officials often discuss the egregious pay equity problem statewide and recently have begun to make efforts to address it. The New Orleans City Council established an Equal Pay Advisory Committee and Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for a Civil Service Commission study about gender disparity on its own payroll. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Donna Edwards also hosted a summit earlier this month about pay equity in Baton Rouge.

Though such discussions are limited in their initial impact, it's heartening to know this pervasive issue is on elected officials' radar.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Y@ Speak: driving out the snakes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 6:30 PM

If someone didn't crawl through your bedroom window and ask to use the bathroom or pass out in front of your door wearing a green plastic hat, did St. Patrick's Day even really happen? After five million years of frat-level-wasted tourist amateur hour, we get to everyone's favorite time of year: caterpillar season. But first, let's look back at a week of some local internet stuff:

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Getting smart on crime

Posted By on Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 2:54 PM


Louisiana lawmakers will struggle to make sense of our state’s fiscal mess when they convene next month, and that struggle will overshadow all other pressing matters. Yet there’s one overarching issue on which legislators of all stripes ought to agree: the need for meaningful criminal justice reform.

Reforming Louisiana’s criminal justice system is actually a fiscal issue. We spend way too much money incarcerating nonviolent offenders — upwards of $700 million a year on corrections. That cost has gotten so out of hand that sentencing reform has become a rallying point for a growing number of conservative Republicans. More need to get on board.

Locking up nonviolent offenders doesn’t make us tough on crime, it makes us dumb on crime — because it turns nonviolent people into hardened criminals while they’re behind bars. Most of them get out at some point. You know what happens next.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Y@ Speak: too lit

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 6:56 PM

You know what they say: There are two types of people in this world — people who throw eggs at tow trucks, and people who aren't heroes.

Also this week: health care, the Saints, people at Buku who are overwhelmingly lit, and now-former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite's perfect Friday reference.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Transgender community offers policy changes to city officials and NOPD

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 9:30 PM

Jada Mercedes Cardona, left, leads a town hall meeting March 10 with New Orleans City Councilmembers Jason Williams and LaToya Canttell with NOPD's LGBT liaison Frank Robertson.
  • Jada Mercedes Cardona, left, leads a town hall meeting March 10 with New Orleans City Councilmembers Jason Williams and LaToya Canttell with NOPD's LGBT liaison Frank Robertson.

Jada Mercedes Cardona knew at 4 years old. "It felt right. I ran to my mom to tell her what I discovered, and what was going to happen now?" Cardona told a crowd at First Unitarian Universalist Church. "Instead of being received with hugs, kisses, understanding and love, I got beaten, and made to proclaim, several times, that I would never repeat those words to anyone again."

Cardona began transitioning at age 35, after living as a gay man, and was tortured by low self-esteem and "a cycle of hate I still struggle with today" — an "internalized oppression," she said, "so much so that you can't see anything good about yourself."

"Living in one's truth isn't easy," Cardona said.  "I lost everything from living in my truth."

Cardona founded the transgender advocacy group Transitions Louisiana, which hosted a town hall meeting March 10 following the recent deaths of three transgender women in Louisiana — including two people in New Orleans — after one of the most deadly years for transgender people in the U.S.

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U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite is stepping down

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 12:51 PM

Kenneth Polite has served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana since 2013.
  • Kenneth Polite has served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana since 2013.
After more than three years in office as the city’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite is stepping down. Polite’s resignation, announced March 10, is effective March 24.

Polite has headed the Department of Justice’s Eastern District of Louisiana since September 2013, an appointee of President Barack Obama who has stayed on within the opening months of President Donald Trump’s administration. Polite will leave office despite the urging of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser to remain. According to an announcement from his office, Polite — a native New Orleanian who will continue to live in the city — is expected to announce his “his future endeavors, in both the public and private sectors” soon.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Judge says Liberty Place monument can come down

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 9:40 AM

  • Photo by Kandace Power Graves
  • Liberty Monument.
A federal judge has ruled that New Orleans can remove a monument honoring a white supremacist uprising. It's likely the final thumbs up for city officials to begin removing four Confederate-era monuments after an appeals court ruling sided with the city to take down monuments to P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. The Liberty decision comes just two days after that ruling.

The Battle of Liberty Place monument originally honored a revolt from members of the Crescent City White League against Reconstruction efforts and the city's integrated police force in 1874.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Concerts for Indigent Defense to put spotlight on Louisiana's public defense crisis

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 7:16 PM

New Orleans' Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton. - CHERYL GERBER
  • New Orleans' Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton.
March 18 is the 54th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, a landmark ruling guaranteeing the right to counsel for defendants who can't afford an attorney. But public defense for the indigent in Louisiana — which relies on fines and fees to fund its public defenders — has been at the center of a "constitutional crisis" in which caseloads overwhelm under-funded and under-staffed offices, halting many cases altogether while the state struggles with a perpetual budget mess. A recent lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center takes aim at the state's public defense services.

"Without adequate representation, there is no justice," New Orleans Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton said in a statement. "Our entire system fails and poor people are the ones hurt the most.”

New Orleans, appropriately, will host the first event in a planned series of national concerts to raise awareness of the right to counsel and the crises faced by public defenders offices nationwide. The New Orleans installment of Concerts for Indigent Defense features the Original Pinettes Brass Band, Zena Moses and Rue Fiya, Junko Beat (also featuring Orleans Public Defender Will Snowden), Caren Green, Mystic Beez, Casme, Britney Chaunte, Dedrick West, K.Levy, Justin Parker and others. In conjunction with the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the concert begins 5 p.m. Saturday, March 18 at WonderLand Production Studios (3233 St. Bernard Ave.). The concert also will be streamed on its website.

"The Supreme Court says you have a fundamental constitutional right to have a lawyer, and yet state after state, if you're poor and accused of a crime, you often don't have access to a decent lawyer at all," says event founder Stephen Saloom. "If you do, it’s not in a timely fashion. When they represent you they are often overwhelmed by a caseload that nobody thinks is appropriate."

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A visit to the National Preppers & Survivalist Expo in Gonzales

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Leonard Lamar of the Louisiana Chapter of the Zombie Eradication Response Team talks to David Brackman (wearing glasses) about the products at his Self Defense ATL booth. - IAN MCCUSKER
  • Leonard Lamar of the Louisiana Chapter of the Zombie Eradication Response Team talks to David Brackman (wearing glasses) about the products at his Self Defense ATL booth.

Attendees at the seventh annual National Preppers and Survivalist Expo weren’t shorted on exotic lessons on how to survive an assortment of doomsday scenarios — ranging from natural disasters to nuclear attacks to every actual or perceived danger in between.

What was in short supply at the two-day event in Gonzales’ Lamar Dixon Expo Center this past weekend were attendees. Apparently, Armageddon-like events aren’t high on southeastern Louisiana’s radar this year.

“This is the slowest show I’ve done in nine years,” said exhibitor David Brackman, who drove 10 hours from John Creek, Georgia, to provide Louisiana women with materials and skills to defend themselves. The trip cost him several thousand dollars, he lamented.

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