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James Gill: Gun control plans in New Orleans a misfire

To judge from online comments, gun enthusiasts are frothing at the mouth over an ordinance New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu seems likely to get adopted by the New Orleans City Council. It does not take much to reduce Second Amendment zealots to that condition, and, naturally, they are greatly alarmed when Landrieu and council members claim to… Continue reading →

James Gill: Work-release much better than the pen

The old gang gathered round, astonished that he had showed up in the neighborhood. “I busted out,” he said, puffing out his chest. “They can’t keep me caged up.” Boy, this was like being in a James Cagney movie. Everyone was keen to find out how he pulled it off. “I just walked up the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Hard to understand how embattled sheriff Marlin Gusman can constantly look on bright side

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Sheriff Marlin Gusman speaks about the state of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the OPSO Jail at Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Maybe we should call Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman Sheriff Pangloss, for there never was a lawman so determined to look on the bright side. He’s at it again following the resignation of his chief deputy, Jerry Ursin. This might have led some public officials to a period of introspection, but if Gusman suffered any self-doubt, he… Continue reading →

James Gill: ABATE biker group gangs up on logic, safety

As their title makes clear, “American Bikers Active Toward Education” are not out to promote coherent English. They presumably chose the moniker for acronymic purposes, although it is by no means clear what they propose to abate. It cannot be road casualties, for they were out in force last week pushing a bill, sponsored by state Rep.… Continue reading →

James Gill; News flash: bungee-jumping could be dangerous

I have been thinking how much fun it would be to go bungee-jumping from a railroad trestle, but have decided to resist the temptation. Turns out there’s always a chance of getting hit by a train. Who knew? Luckily, an outfit called Operation Lifesaver is here with a railroad-trestle code of safety, and bungee jumping is… Continue reading →

James Gill: A double whitewash at Angola

Exactly what Kenny Norris did to earn his $94,000 a year as an assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, or even where he spent his time, is impossible to know. State Police tried to find out when they were called in by Darrel Vannoy late last year soon after he had been appointed to… Continue reading →

James Gill: For life’s irritations in Louisiana, why not pack a pistol?

As we go about our daily business, we must all at one time or another have dreamed of yanking out the old equalizer and giving people what they are asking for. Perhaps drivers would quit going 40 mph in the outside lane of the interstate, or shoppers would no longer take a week’s worth of groceries into… Continue reading →

James Gill: For ex-Angola warden Burl Cain, it was his buddies assessing his job performance

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Former Angola Warden Burl Cain reads a statement during a press conference in front of the State Capitol Wednesday.

When Burl Cain was warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and dabbling in various outside businesses, he got to know a couple of fat cats with ties to murderers in his custody. Cain lent a helping hand to both inmates and resigned when his actions came to light, but the resulting internal investigation has cleared… Continue reading →

James Gill: Smoking bans all the rage in New Orleans -- and now in Baton Rouge too

If you find yourself in Lafayette with a yen to play some blackjack or roulette, you are out of luck, because there is no casino there. Shoot, there aren’t even any slots closer than the Evangeline Downs racetrack in St. Landry Parish. The Lafayette City-Parish Council thus did not have to fear any great loss of tax… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana mostly a spectator for presidential election, but, oh, what a spectacle it'll be

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton (Associated Press file photos) ORG XMIT: BAT1603231500431267

Louisiana is used to the role of red-headed stepchild in presidential elections, and this year promises to be no different. We have a mere eight electoral college votes, and no pundit believes, as the vernacular has it, that they are up for grabs. We might rate a couple of courtesy visits, but this… Continue reading →

James Gill: New Orleans has welcome mat out for potheads; it's about to be even more accommodating too

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH-- Susan Guidry, Councilwomen District A, hops on a bike as city leaders and community members rally to announce the upcoming NOLA Bike to Work Week- a city wide initiative presented by Entergy, Bike Easy, NiteRider and Bike Law Louisiana in New Orleans, La. on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. The 4th Annual NOLA Bike to Work Day will take place April 13th-17th, 2015 in Louisiana.

If you smoke marijuana, don’t try to understand the law on smoking it in New Orleans. Weed and municipal ordinances don’t mix. You’ll be more confused than ever... Continue reading →

James Gill: Disaster prosecution is, well, a disaster

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a previously published James Gill column appeared in Thursday’s edition instead of his latest column. Here’s the new one: The feds must have felt they had no choice but to file criminal charges after the BP oil spill in the Gulf. It doesn’t seem like such a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Vegan diet could help deter crime

Pamela Anderson, curvaceous star of “Baywatch” back in the day, has re-emerged to urge that Louisiana penitentiaries go vegan, and offers to do some cooking herself. Perhaps she could rustle up some soy milk, margarine, white vinegar and unsweetened cocoa powder, and deliver a vegan cake to Angola. Don’t bake a file into it, Pamela! The screws… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana kids also failing at cheating

More bad news from the public schools of Louisiana. Our kids aren’t even learning how to cheat. Perhaps you thought the idea was that kids should be taught not to cheat. If so, it may be some time since you were in a classroom. The idea that teachers function in loco parentis, and assist the moral development of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Marco Rubio calls Bobby Jindal ‘one of best governors in America’; should we laugh or fear?

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

It’s been almost a week since Marco Rubio called Bobby Jindal “one of the best governors in America,” so you should have stopped laughing by now. Rubio could not possibly have been serious, could he? If a potential leader of the western world thinks the Jindal administration provided an example worth emulating, then we had better… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gov. John Bel Edwards finds 'exorbitant' salaries needed to fill cabinet with Louisiana talent -- with one exception

Gov. John Bel Edwards just insulted Louisiana’s new Director of Homeland Security James Waskom. Edwards is paying all his cabinet secretaries at least as much as his predecessor Bobby Jindal did — with one exception. Waskom gets $135,000 a year, $30,000 less than Kevin Davis rated to keep us safe from terrorists and natural disasters. When… Continue reading →

James Gill: With departure of C.B. Forgotston, 'a tireless scold,' Louisiana loses a watchdog

It is in the nature of politicians to declare they are working their socks off for the public good, and quite a few of them may even believe it. C.B. Forgotston generally didn’t, figuring that if they weren’t hypocrites, they were delusional. And on the rare occasion when what he called the “leges” embraced some sound policy,… Continue reading →

James Gill: More New Orleans statues in the crosshairs, but where does it end?

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--The sun moves behind the statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle in New Orleans shortly after the city council voted 6-1 to remove the Lee statue, a statue of Confederate Jefferson Davis, Confederate P.G.T. Beauregard, and a monument memorializing a White League white supremacist uprising, in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015.

It would probably make for more racial harmony, and would certainly save a bunch of money, if U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier were to rule that Confederate monuments in New Orleans should stay put. Sure, the iconoclasts would be mad for a while, but, if the plaintiffs are right and the monuments are protected by both state… Continue reading →

James Gill: Adding culture to New Orleans political shenanigans

The new year cannot possibly bring as many allegations of intrigue, financial shenanigans and sexual misconduct as 2015, at least in one sector. No, not state politics. We’re talking culture. The struggle for power and money scarcely abated amid the champions of literacy and the arts in New Orleans. Neither… Continue reading →

James Gill: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu casts himself as hero in Confederate monument saga; is he allowing office to get to his head?

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu talks about progress in the city in the last year.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu suffered a slight attack of grandiloquence last week during the City Council debate that ended with a thumbs-down for Confederate statuary. “I speak for the people,” Landrieu declared during a somewhat heated exchange with Stacy Head, the only council member who didn’t join his rush to depose Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Tobacco settlement hasn’t helped anti-smoking much

Louisiana, in common with every other state bar one, needs to put much more money into the war on smoking, a coalition of public health advocates adjures. Do not hold your breath, because the states have had a great racket going since 1998, when they reached a settlement with the cigarette manufacturers. That settlement was supposed to… Continue reading →

James Gill: Replacing Robert E. Lee statue with Allen Toussaint memorial seems out of place

Photo provided by Kim Welsh -- Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint was such a hugely gifted composer and musician, and such a cool dude on stage, that it is impossible to imagine hearing a bad word about him. This is one native son who has earned a memorial. But that doesn’t mean it is a good idea to put his bronze likeness on a 60-foot… Continue reading →

James Gill: New John Bel Edwards administration might make us more civilized, but we’ll still be backward

Louisiana Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards addresses supporters at his election night watch party in New Orleans, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Edwards won the runoff election for Louisiana governor Saturday, defeating the once-heavy favorite, Republican David Vitter, and handing the Democrats their first statewide victory since 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

If, as Samuel Johnson averred, “a decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization,” Louisiana might now be ready to enter a less barbarous age. The imminent expansion of Medicaid, fiercely opposed by outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal, will cover some 400,000 people currently unable to afford health insurance. That… Continue reading →

James Gill: Polls show gay rights good for business in Louisiana

One of the classic stories at my old paper concerned the visitor who, seeking a reporter by that name, asked, “Which one is Gay?” Looking around, the editor on duty said, “Take your pick.” The makeup of the staff certainly proved that sexual orientation had not been a factor in hiring. Of workplace discrimination there… Continue reading →

James Gill: Craving political put-downs? You'll enjoy the John Bel Edwards, David Vitter campaign

Louisiana used to produce politicians who could skewer their opponents with style. Thus did one governor, Earl Long, observe of another, the jug-eared Robert Kennon, that “he can stand in a courthouse in Ville Platte and hear a dollar bill drop in Opelousas.” When two other governors debated some years later, David Treen asked Edwin Edwards… Continue reading →

James Gill: Officials crack down on culture of sin in French Quarter, but reputation is what draws many there

State Police Col. Mike Edmonson allows that, since resuming French Quarter patrols in March, his officers have seized 125 guns. That may sound like quite an achievement, given that Louisiana law is probably the gun-friendliest in the country. Although a permit is required for a concealed weapon, carrying one in… Continue reading →

James Gill: It might be time for the Boston to give New Orleans back its Civil War bells stolen by Gen. Benjamin “Beast” Butler

New bells for the Cathedral of the Holy Cross that came from the closed Holy Trinity Church in the South End are lifted in the cathedral’s belltower Oct. 23, 2015.Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Gen. Benjamin “Beast” Butler, commander of occupied New Orleans during the Civil War, also was nicknamed “Spoons” for his alleged habit of helping himself to silverware. That may be a canard, but we do know for sure that he grabbed a bunch of our church bells and had them shipped to Boston. Five of them, made… Continue reading →

James Gill: Truce between New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson a big win

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, foreground, leaves a press conference where he and  Howard Schwartz, Assistant Inspector General Investigations, left, spoke about the reporting of sex crime cases by five NOPD officers who often recategorized sexual complaints as miscellaneous also speaking at the press conference is new NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison, background center, at NOPD headquarters in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

. It’s hard to disagree that the rapprochement between New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux and Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson is “a big win for the entire community.” So says David Marcello, who, as head of Tulane’s Public Law Center, is quite the expert on the city’s Ethics Review Board, to which the city’s two watchdogs answer.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Attorneys join forces in the case to free Robert Jones

Prosecutors and pro bono defense attorneys in New Orleans last year announced they would join forces to free the wrongfully convicted. It was the first such collaboration in the United States and now the defense side claims to have found the perfect candidate. Innocence Project Director Emily Maw thinks it so obvious that Robert Jones was bum-rapped… Continue reading →

James Gill: Give a man an honorary badge, and sometimes he begins to think he is 'The Law'

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- Pictured is Nathaniel Bankston's honorary deputy sheriff commission from West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

Louisiana’s unlikeliest deputy sheriff ever has to be the great comedian Mort Sahl. No, Sahl did not hurtle around the bayous in a squad car. He didn’t live here, and even if he had, he couldn’t have collared any wrongdoers, because his commission was purely honorary. He was issued a badge because his brother-in-law at the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Let the voters of Jefferson Parish decide if convicted felon Derrick Shepherd is fit for office

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd signs papers next to chief deputy Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Frank Borne, left, as Jon A. Gegenheimer. clerk of court, top right, watches as Shepherd takes part in the qualifying process for Louisiana house district 87 at the Jefferson Parish Government Building in Gretna, La. Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Shepherd plead guilty to money laundering and believes he can still qualify for the legislature.

If Jefferson Parish voters want Derrick Shepherd representing them in the Legislature again, the appropriate response from the rest of us would be, “You can have him.” But that is not possible because the state constitution says felons can’t run for office until 15 years after finishing their sentences. But it won’t say so much longer… Continue reading →