Editorial

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Editorial: The latest GOP health care bill brought great harm — to Sen. Bill Cassidy's reputation

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 8:30 AM

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy.
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy.

As the latest rushed attempt to end the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) collapsed this week, it took with it another casualty: U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s reputation.

Cassidy, a mild-mannered physician, had insisted for months that he would hold President Donald Trump to his campaign promise that any health care replacement would have to be affordable, cover preexisting conditions and insure more people. None of that made it into the GOP’s latest repeal effort. The “Graham-Cassidy plan,” sponsored by Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, was widely agreed to be the worst repeal bill of all.

It was slammed by major medical organizations, physicians’ groups and hospitals, and some health insurance giants for its plan to turn over responsibility and most funding to the states while phasing out Medicaid dollars entirely. This was the bill that Cassidy and Graham sought to push through Congress in little more than a week.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Gambit's endorsements for mayor, city council and other races on the Oct. 14 ballot

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 7:00 PM

LaToya Cantrell.
  • LaToya Cantrell.

Early voting starts this Saturday, Sept. 30, across Louisiana — but nowhere is that date more important than in metro New Orleans. Voters in New Orleans will elect a new mayor, at least three new City Council members, and two judges. They also will decide the fate of three important school board millages.

In Jefferson Parish, voters in Council District 4 will choose a new parish councilman, and voters parishwide will decide whether to renew two transportation millages. Statewide, voters will elect a new treasurer and consider three proposed constitutional amendments.

These are vitally important decisions, yet early indicators suggest a low turnout statewide — and only tepid interest locally. With so much at stake for New Orleans, we hope voters heed the “wake-up call” described in our upcoming Sunday cover story.

As we considered whom to endorse in these critical elections, we looked for candidates who not only had the skill sets to get things done, but who also understood the sense of urgency that will be needed to address the challenges facing our city, region and state. Whether you agree with our recommendations or not, we hope you’ll take time to vote. Our recommendations in the election are below the jump.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How New Orleans can help survivors of Hurricane Harvey

Posted By on Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 3:43 PM

PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. TIM PRUITT/TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD
  • PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. TIM PRUITT/TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD

So much water. So much pain. And so much ahead.

While all Americans can sympathize with Houston and southeast Texas in the wake in Hurricane Harvey, New Orleanians can truly empathize with what our neighbors are going through — 12 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina felled the federal levees and flooded our city. We remember all too well the feeling of helplessness in the face of nature. We also remember the hope that sprang from strangers providing aid and comfort in our time of such devastating need.

Let’s channel those memories — and those feelings — into action. We can’t all hitch up our boats like the Cajun Navy, but the main thing survivors of Hurricane Harvey need now is money. Lots of money. Here are several ways to give:

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Editorial: After Charlottesville

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 6:09 PM

Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. - CREATIVE COMMONS/ANTHONY CRIDER
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/ANTHONY CRIDER
  • Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017.

Watching the images and hearing the words out of Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend was depressing, sickening, infuriating — and necessary. Necessary because the country got a good look at the people who call themselves the “alt-right,” which is their sanitized term for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Klansmen and other haters who feel emboldened in America today. It’s also necessary because some of them are planning similar rallies in Boston, San Francisco and elsewhere in the coming days and weeks.

Some of the malefactors who caused harm in Charlottesville also were in New Orleans during the weeks surrounding the hotly contested removal of four Confederate monuments. It’s easy to say New Orleans was lucky it didn’t have the chaos and death that marked Charlottesville, but it was more than luck. It was planning.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Editorial: A not-so-dry run exposes Sewerage & Water Board ineptitude

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Floodwaters rising on Banks Street in Mid-City Aug. 5. - PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Floodwaters rising on Banks Street in Mid-City Aug. 5.

When Joe Becker, general superintendent of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, began answering questions from the New Orleans City Council Tuesday (Aug. 8), it was clear the S&WB’s original story about its performance during the Aug. 5 storm was taking on more water than a Lamborghini stranded in Lakeview. Just before the council’s special meeting, S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant announced he would be retiring by the end of the year. “Some parts of our system did not operate as they should have, which is disappointing because it contradicts information that I was given to provide to the public,” Grant said. That was an understatement.

The information referenced by Grant — that all the drainage pumps were in working order during the storm — was contradicted by statistics that councilmembers tweezed out of Becker during the special meeting. Becker floated the equivocal meme that “all the pump stations were working at the capacity they had available to them.” As it turned out, 14 of the system’s 121 pumps were out of commission. A Lakeview pumping station operating at 100 percent of its “available capacity” was actually working at 57 percent of capacity. Other stations reported similar problems.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Commentary: Truly honoring our veterans

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Ret. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a former U.S. Senate candidate, announced a run for a seat in the state House of Representatives.
  • Ret. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a former U.S. Senate candidate, announced a run for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Imagine a scenario in which a candidate for U.S. Senate urges people to boycott the largest city in his or her state. That’s what retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, who twice lost races for the Senate, did last week by suggesting in a radio interview that American veterans avoid New Orleans in response to the removal of four Confederate-
era statues.

Speaking on the syndicated Lars Larson Show, Maness said veterans should stay away from New Orleans, including those set to attend the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) 118th annual convention here next month. He suggested Kenner would be a better place for them to meet. When Larson mentioned that he and his wife wanted to visit the National World War II Museum in downtown New Orleans, Maness told him, “You can go visit that — but don’t give the hotel taxes and the convention taxes and all that stuff to the city of New Orleans.”

Maness has been an outspoken critic of the monuments’ removal, going so far as to say Mayor Mitch Landrieu “has created his own ISIS.” (Yes, really.) On his WGSO-AM radio show last week (which is broadcast from New Orleans), Maness denied using the word “boycott” and called Gambit’s report on it “fake news.” He then repeated his call for the VFW to move its convention to Kenner. “They [New Orleans] don’t deserve those tax dollars,” Maness said. Sounds like a boycott to us.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Commentary: Steve Scalise — Out of tragedy, common purpose

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 9:41 AM

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

There were many thoughtful statements of sympathy following the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and four others during a baseball practice in a Virginia park last week. Perhaps none was more thoughtful than that of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot and nearly killed at a constituent event in 2011 (six people died in that attack). “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, nor if you’re a senator or a representative, nor a staffer or a sworn officer,” Giffords wrote. “This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy.”

That didn’t stop many from jumping online and filtering the tragedy through their own ideological lenses — whether it was noting that the shooter had been a volunteer with Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, or trying to make ironic comparisons between Scalise’s hospital stay and his support for President Donald Trump’s attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, or Scalise’s pro-gun position and the alleged shooter. All this was being batted around even as Scalise was undergoing surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he remained in critical condition at the end of last week.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Editorial: Abolish Louisiana’s death penalty

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 6:13 PM

thinkstockphotos-638906738.jpg

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. If some state lawmakers have their way, Louisiana will become the 20th state — but they face strong opposition. Some district attorneys and sheriffs say the death penalty is a deterrent as well as leverage to convince those accused of capital crimes to plead to lesser but still severe charges.

Senate Bill 142 would abolish the death penalty effective Aug. 1, but it would not apply to the more than 70 people currently on Death Row in Louisiana. House Bill 10 would mandate life in prison without parole for people convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree rape or treason. This week, a Senate committee approved SB 142 by a 6-1 vote, sending it to the full Senate.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Editorial: Gambit ballot recommendations for the Dec. 10 runoff election

Posted By on Fri, Nov 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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While the rest of America prepares for a (hopefully) peaceful holiday season after a divisive, often toxic election season, Louisiana has one more Election Day left. On Dec. 10, the local ballot features a half-dozen important tax propositions — most of them renewals — and runoffs for U.S. Senate and mayor of Kenner. Early voting begins Sat. Nov. 26 and ends Sat. Nov. 3.

We previously endorsed Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn for mayor of Kenner. We still support him as he he faces Kenner City Councilman Gregory Carroll in the runoff. In the Senate primary, we recommended both Republican Congressman Charles Boustany and Democrat Caroline Fayard, neither of whom made the runoff. We make no further recommendation in that contest.

Meanwhile, we make the following recommendations on the ballot propositions in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish:

New Orleans voters will see two citywide propositions — a new 2.5-mill property tax increase for fire protection services and renewal of an existing property tax for drainage services. We support both propositions.

The fire protection proposition would yield nearly $9 million a year for 12 years, beginning next year, and would not be subject to the homestead exemption. Revenue from the tax will help pay for tens of millions of dollars in legal judgments the city owes firefighters and their pension fund. If voters reject this tax, the city will still have to pay the judgments — by cutting vital services elsewhere. We urge our readers in New Orleans to vote YES on the fire projection millage proposition.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Editorial: Blue.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 6:17 PM

screen_shot_2016-11-09_at_6.16.08_pm.png

“A little blue dot in a big red state.”


That’s a description often applied to Austin, Texas by national politicos, but it’s just as applicable to New Orleans. The results of the presidential and senatorial elections last week confirmed that. Travis County, Texas (home of Austin) voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 66 percent to 27 percent. Support for Clinton over Trump in Orleans Parish (81-15 percent) left Austin in the dust. Last night's vote for Clinton in New Orleans was one point larger than the city’s vote to reelect President Barack Obama in 2012. The local percentage for Clinton was substantially larger than Austin’s, Seattle’s and Portland’s.

In fact. metro-wide, Clinton and Trump literally split the vote right down the middle, getting 48 percent each in greater New Orleans, according to University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak.

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