Editorial

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

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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

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“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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Friday, June 10, 2016

Lawmakers' political games are hurting Louisiana

Posted By on Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 4:50 PM

ZRFPHOTO
  • zrfphoto

Like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, the leadership of the Louisiana House of Representatives has played childish political games as the state descends further into fiscal chaos. Evidence of this is overwhelming.

Since Day One of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ term, a handful of leading Republicans has blindly refused to consider reasonable revenue measures — yet they offer no real plan to cover the $2 billion deficit left by Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some of those Republicans opposed Jindal’s fiscal policies on solid philosophical grounds; now they oppose Edwards’ fiscal cures simply because he’s a Democrat. They are shameless.

Further evidence of their irresponsibility came last week. House Speaker Taylor Barras, a Republican from New Iberia, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neil Abramson, a Democrat from New Orleans who is in league with the GOP’s “Gang of No,” strained credulity in preventing a vote on the so-called Capital Outlay budget before the annual session adjourned. Both said the measure as approved by the Senate had unspecified “technical” defects, yet they did nothing with the bill for the final five days of the session. Abramson literally hid from his colleagues to avoid bringing up the bill for a vote. Then, one day after the regular session ended (on the first morning of the special session), Abramson’s committee approved the measure in an hour — with millions more for projects in Abramson’s district. He blamed committee staffers for that “technical” error.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Guest editorial: How New Orleans should compromise on the Confederate monuments

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 3:53 PM

click image Lee Circle. - CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • Lee Circle.

The following is a guest editorial by Quin Hillyer in response to the New Orleans City Council's upcoming vote on whether to remove four Confederate monuments on public land.


The Battle of New Orleans Monuments should come to an end through compromise. Mayor Mitch Landrieu should promote the compromise and thus become a uniter and a healer, rather than a divider and bully.

The compromise must include the continuation of Robert E. Lee’s perch above the circle bearing his name, with an appropriately worded new display (more about which later in this column). The other three monuments at issue, even as historically significant as they are, might best be moved off of public property (to the consternation of many well-intentioned citizens) and donated to a legitimate historical/preservationist group or museum.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Early voting begins Sat. Nov. 22: Our recommendations in the races

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Early voting for Louisiana’s Dec. 6 runoff election begins Sat. Nov. 22 and concludes Sat., Nov. 29. There is no voting on Thu., Nov. 27, or Fri., Nov. 28, in honor of Thanksgiving.

Early voting has become increasingly prevalent, according to Secretary of State Tom Schedler, and in some elections it accounts for nearly 20 percent of ballots cast — though overall voting totals remain static. President Barack Obama advocated early voting at a speech last month in Chicago, and First Lady Michelle Obama did the same at a campaign appearance in Florida. But early voting is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing. It’s about participation.

The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration reports that expanded early voting is popular with voters across the board, regardless of party. Lines are shorter, and voters usually are able to take their time. State law imposes a three-minute limit in voting booths, which usually goes unenforced as long as there’s no one waiting. By voting early, you’re virtually assured of more time with your ballot — and lines tend to be nonexistent. On ballots with a lot of propositions or amendments, taking your time can be important — in the Nov. 4 primary, voters were asked to decide on 14 proposed state constitutional amendments, and the Dec. 6 ballot in Jefferson Parish will have 11 proposed charter amendments.

More than 9 million people across the country voted early in the midterm elections — roughly 245,000 in Louisiana — and political campaigns have adjusted their strategies accordingly. Candidates campaign earlier and stress get-out-the-vote efforts more. “Enabling voters to cast a ballot at a time convenient to them, not the election authority, is the whole point of allowing voting before Election Day,” the Presidential Commission concluded in its report recommending the practice. We agree.

To find your early voting location, check with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, either at www.geauxvote.com or by calling 1-800-883-2805.

Beneath the cut: Our recommendations for the Dec. 6 election.

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