Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Small Victories

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 5:11 PM


For those New Orleanians who’ve been fighting for a citywide curbside recycling program, one small victory has been gained. The City of New Orleans Department of Sanitation has finally decided to take the matter a little more seriously and begin conducting a survey to determine interest in participating in a potential curbside recycling program. The survey has been available online and has now also appeared as an insert with the most recent billing statements sent out from the sewage and water board. The surveys may be returned with the sewage and water board payment or can be completed online at the city’s Web page.


Jannero Pargo Gives Tyson Chandler a Nickname

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 4:41 PM

by Alejandro de los Rios

Working with ESPNtheMag.com I had the opportunity to conduct this piece with Tyson Chandler, Jannero Pargo and Tyson's wife, Kimberly. I highly encourage you to check it out and, if you are so inclined, to comment on both ESPN's Web site and here.

FYI, the video was actually shot a month or two ago. In fact, it was originally meant to feature Tyson, Kimberly and Bobby Jackson. Jackson, as you all know, was traded at the deadline in a deal that brought over Mike James and Bonzi Wells from Houston. Luckily, Tyson thought of a replacement.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

What were Hornets Fans Doing Saturday?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 11:01 PM

by Alejandro de los Rios

fans at the gates

Perhaps the better question is what the fans are going to do tomorrow.

This is a couple of days late, but it was lost in all the news surrounding the Hornets Game 1 victory. Deservedly so, because the game is played on the court and all credit and blame for its outcome falls on the players and coaches participating. But say the game was played in the seats and teams judged solely on their fans, can you guess where the New Orleans Hornets would be?

Dead last.

Here are the attendance numbers of all eight first-round openers (UPDATE: Because I wasn't familiar with the NBA's nonsensical seeding system, I had put down the numbers for Utah's arena when the series is being played in Houston. Apologies):

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Drug-Test-Free Zones?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 8:20 PM

By: Jeremy Alford


Although his legislation is still in the developmental phase, Baton Rouge Rep. Erich E. Ponti is working on a policy change that would exclude certain petrochemical workers from mandatory employment-related drug tests. House Bill 514 aims to remove workers in “the construction, maintenance or manufacturing of any refining or petrochemical facility” from required drug tests. Ponti, a Republican, says knee-jerk reaction to his bill, which consists of only half a page, might be adverse because it’s easily misunderstood. That’s among the many reasons the bill is being repackaged and investigated further by a group of interested parties. “In theory, this would allow employers to place these people in a database so they can easily be tracked from one plant to another,” Ponti says. The legislation could allow workers to stay on the job and be monitored more closely. While it sounds like a radical idea, it’s nothing new. Louisiana already has a similar statute on the books for employees of oil and gas exploration, drilling and production companies. Such employees are expressly excluded from mandatory testing for the presence of “marijuana, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and phencyclidine,” according to the law. A comparable provision exists in Wisconsin, where commercial pilots are allowed to fly up to four sightseeing flights a year for charity without being tested for drugs. Texas likewise has testing exclusions for certain industries. The bill is on the shelf for now while lawmakers and special interests kick the idea around. It has been assigned to the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, but no hearing date has been set. 

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Victory for Justice Victory

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 8:20 PM

By: Allen Johnson

The Louisiana Board of Ethics has dropped a $1,000 late free against state Supreme Court Associate Justice Jeff Victory for a tardy campaign finance disclosure report. Two surgeries earlier this year rendered the 62-year-old justice “medically unable to file” a supplemental report to his 2004 re-election campaign, the panel stated in an April 17 letter sent last week to Victory campaign treasurer Robert G. Pugh Jr., a Shreveport lawyer. The board granted Pugh’s request for a waiver at the regular public meeting on April 10 in Baton Rouge. “The Justice did not appear,” says Richard Sherburne, the newly appointed administrator of the ethics board. The board’s 11-member Supervisory Committee for Campaign Finance includes four lawyers — one more than required by a new state law. They are board chair Henry C. “Hank” Perret of Lafayette; vice chair John W. Greene of Covington, a retired judge; Clayton Davis of Lake Charles; and Michael T. Johnson of Pineville. Because of a family emergency, Johnson was absent from the meeting at which Victory’s appeal was discussed, Sherburne said.

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Unequal Brands of Justice?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 8:19 PM

By: Jeremy Alford 

The chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus wants the House and Senate judiciary committees to study potential racial disparities in sentencing guidelines. More specifically, Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, wants to know if there’s a difference in the length and harshness of sentences imposed by judges for similar crimes committed by Caucasians and African Americans. LaFonta argues that the Louisiana Supreme Court has not effectively addressed, nor made any effective progress, to “change the unequal justice manifested upon the poor and economically disadvantaged, particularly minorities.” Problems may exist on the local prosecutorial level as well, according to the resolution. It states: “The prosecution of crimes in district court is totally at the discretion of a district attorney who may have more bias against some accused defendants than other accused defendants, and it is totally within his prerogative whom he prosecutes and for what crime he accuses the person of committing, except when there is an indictment by the grand jury.” If LaFonta’s House Concurrent Study Resolution 1 gains favor with lawmakers, the joint judiciary committee would have to report its findings to the Legislature prior to Feb. 28, 2009 — just in time for next year’s regular session.

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Earmarks to Be Debated

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 6:04 PM

By: Jeremy Alford 


During budget debates in recent years, average citizens, editorial writers and good government groups have cringed at the notion of public funding via “earmarks” for pet projects and programs such as hot air balloon races and high school alumni groups. Why? Because it’s your money that’s supporting such questionable activities and groups. Earmarks are traditionally included in the state operating budget without explanations as to how the tax dollars will be spent or who will benefit. Many earmarks support nonprofit organizations, some of which receive virtually all of their revenue from state government grants sponsored by individual legislators. “The question isn’t whether or not these organizations do some good in our state, it’s how efficient is the job they are doing,” says state Treasurer John Kennedy. “If the state is going to continue to give money to these nonprofit organizations, at the very least, taxpayers statewide deserve full disclosure about these projects.” State Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, a Jennings Republican, has filed Senate Bill 106 to force lawmakers to reveal every detail about their earmarks. Each funding request would have to include budget information, project goals, objectives and information about possible connections to elected officials. Kennedy is among the bill’s supporters and says he plans to testify for it when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the measure.

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Taxing District Envy?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 6:03 PM

By: Allen Johnson 


State Sen. Cheryl Gray met with Uptown constituents last week to discuss proposed legislation that would put their neighborhoods on one of the fastest growing trends in government nationwide — special taxing districts. “Neighborhoods love them,” says Jim Brandt, president of the nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council (PAR). There are three types — “security districts,” in which neighborhood residents tax themselves for extra police protection; “improvement districts,” in which residents pay additional fees for security, beautification, and other purposes; and “development districts,” which have no taxing authority but can enter into contracts and accept contributions. Orleans Parish currently has 23 special neighborhood taxing districts. Eleven are security districts, nine are improvement districts, and three are development districts, according to Gray legislative aide Cheryl Napoli. Gray is asking the Legislature to authorize the creation of four more special districts — all in her Senate district. Critics say special taxing districts contribute to the Balkanization of city services, raise questions about the deployment of off-duty cops, and widen gaps between “haves” and “have-nots.” Gray’s bills need both legislative passage and citywide voter approval on Oct. 4. 

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Clinton Uses New Orleans Images in Penn Ad

Posted on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 3:38 PM

Wedged together with FDR, Kennedy, and Osama Bin Laden, you get Katrina images and the same voice and tone from the 3 a.m. phone ad as Senator Clinton's final pitch before the voting tomorrow in Pennsylvania.


The Roundup: Byron Scott, Dengue Fever, and Fried-Shrimp Po Boys

Posted on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 12:45 PM

by Sam Winston

John McCain in his "It's Time For Action Tour" is set to visit New Orleans' 9th Ward.

Can New Orleans food compete with Salmon Rushdie and the Dalai Lama? That's what Tulane is banking on in its competition with Emory over incoming students.

Also, six UPenn grads are headed to New Orleans continuing the "brain gain"

The LA Times draws a comparison between the mismanagement of Katrina and an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Brazil, saying lawmakers and public officials are keen to point fingers at one another.

Hornets coach Byron Scott gets soaring praise in a New York Times profile about him and the team. A must read for Hornets fans.

Fitting (hopefully) for the what ESPN writer John Hollinger calls the beginning of the "chess match" between Scott and Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.

Gambit Contributor and New Orleans writer Jason Berry is quoted in the latest national story on the Pope and the papacy's challenge on the abuse scandal.

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