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James Gill: A pandering contest on Common Core

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was presumably taking a swipe at Gov. Bobby Jindal when, during a recent speech in New Orleans, he averred that politics and education shouldn’t mix. Jindal, gracious as ever, had greeted Duncan by issuing a statement inviting him to learn his lesson from U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s failure to win re-election.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Restoration races against time

Louisiana’s $50 billion coastal restoration plan comes with two slight problems. It is not guaranteed to work, and we don’t have the $50 billion. The scientific challenge has been compared to the one faced by NASA when it was shooting for the moon. Lobbying Congress for the requisite funds, meanwhile, may be like reaching for the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Democrats to rise again in South, but experts don't see it happening soon

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., speaks to supporters as she concedes defeat in her Senate runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Left is her husband Frank Snellings. Cassidy denied Landrieu a fourth term, calling his Senate victory

The Democrats will rise again in the South, but the political scientists don’t see it happening any time soon. Will Rogers’ celebrated crack — “I am not a member of any organized political party; I am a Democrat” — applies in spades around here these days. The Democrats are clearly in worse disarray than they were in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Comedy of errors at sheriff’s office

Finding something that Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman has done right would test the skills of the greatest sleuth, and New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux must be glad that isn’t his job. Instead, Quatrevaux is tasked with identifying misdeeds and inefficiencies in public agencies, and Gusman continues to provide him with plenty of opportunities. Their… Continue reading →

James Gill: Anti-smoking movement gets puritanical

An ordinance before the New Orleans City Council that would ban smoking in bars and open public spaces may follow the national trend, but that just shows that the nation ain’t what it used to be. The American prejudice has traditionally run in favor of personal liberty and the free market, but the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Anti-smoking movement gets puritanical

An ordinance before the New Orleans City Council that would ban smoking in bars and open public spaces may follow the national trend, but that just shows that the nation ain’t what it used to be. The American prejudice has traditionally run in favor of personal liberty and the free market, but the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edwards not going down without a fight

Advocate staff file photo by Travis Spradling -- In this March 17, 2014, file photo, former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club in Baton Rouge, La. With enthusiasm and vigor that belie his 87 years, Edwards is running for Congress in south Louisiana in what would be his second political resurrection.

It has always seemed a bit like an old rocker’s farewell tour — possibly because, to his fans, former Gov. Edwin Edwards is an old rocker — but it does have the trappings of a serious campaign. In the works, for instance, is a last-minute media blitz in which Edwards will play up the links between… Continue reading →

James Gill: Technicality? It’s called the U.S. Constitution

The lament that some criminal got off on a “legal technicality” is naturally a common one, for we have a bunch of legal technicalities to choose from in this country. We even have an official list of them for crafty defense attorneys to exploit. It’s at the back of the U.S. Constitution. It is true that… Continue reading →

James Gill: Former juror still makes no difference

It’s supposed to be a runoff, but it looks more and more like a retrial as Victor Durand, former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ recalcitrant juror, attaches himself to the campaign. Make that the recalcitrant juror from the trial Edwards lost. There was one the first time he went on trial, too — Clifford West — but that, in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Officials waving a big unconstitutional stick

JFK was still alive, so New Orleans DA Jim Garrison had not yet had a chance to earn his global reputation as a crackpot. He did, however, come across as a bit of a wildman when he called a news conference in 1962 to denounce the city’s criminal court judges as lazy, incompetent and… Continue reading →

James Gill: It’s dog-eat-dog on talk radio

Elbert Guillory evidently doesn’t like Chihuahuas, else he wouldn’t have called Ted James one. Perhaps Guillory, a Republican state senator from Opelousas, saw himself as the big dog around here when he grew irritated with James, a Democratic state representative from Baton Rouge. Guillory terminated a discussion on a radio show by hanging up the phone… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana treasurer John Kennedy or commissioner of administration Kristy Nichols...which one is fudging the truth?

Given their overlapping responsibilities, commissioners of administration and state treasurers ideally work, if not in perfect harmony, at least without appearing to be on the verge of scratching each other’s eyes out. If ever a spirit of cooperation informed the dealings of Treasurer John Kennedy and Kristy Nichols, who runs the numbers for… Continue reading →

James Gill: Nichols versus Kennedy: the rumble continues

Given their overlapping responsibilities, commissioners of administration and state treasurers ideally work, if not in perfect harmony, at least without appearing to be on the verge of scratching each other’s eyes out. If ever a spirit of cooperation informed the dealings of Treasurer John Kennedy and Kristy Nichols, who runs the numbers for… Continue reading →

James Gill: Looks like Landrieu is toast in Senate race

As soon as it became official that they would meet in the runoff, Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy each received an endorsement Tuesday night. Cassidy’s came from a spokesman for third-place finisher Rob Maness, Landrieu’s from the Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as America’s largest organization fighting for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.” Chalk… Continue reading →

James Gill: Maybe lawsuit wasn’t so frivolous

It appears that the lawsuit seeking compensation from oil companies for ravaging the wetlands was not so frivolous after all. Two of the defendants evidently don’t think so anyway, for they just agreed to settle their civil suit in federal court. Meanwhile, state judge Janice Clark has given the oil industry and its leading apologist, Gov. Bobby… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edwin Edwards really needs a miracle

FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who served eight years in prison on corruption charges, greets Lisa Carey, of Veterans Housing Outreach Ministries, at a campaign event in Hahnville, La. With enthusiasm and vigor that belie his 87 years, Edwards is running for Congress in south Louisiana in what would be his second political resurrection.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The pundits are pretty well unanimous in predicting that former Gov. Edwin Edwards will not be elected to Congress, and perhaps it is perverse to hope they are wrong. But many in the Fourth Estate secretly will be rooting for an upset. We have enough drab worthies on Capitol Hill. If Edwards were to win, he’d be… Continue reading →

James Gill: Feldman draws critics across political spectrum

Notwithstanding its well-established reputation as a gay mecca, New Orleans is home to the federal judge who upheld a requirement that marriage involves a man and a woman. Judge Martin Feldman’s counterparts have practically fallen over one another to approve unisex marriage in other states, and five federal appeals courts have agreed that… Continue reading →

James Gill: Cassidy learns perils of honesty

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2014, file photo, Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., speaks at a campaign stop at VFW Post 5951in Bossier City, La. An old political stand-by _ the future of Medicare _ is emerging as the go-to attack in Louisianas bitter Senate race as the candidates woo seniors who typically wield strong influence in midterm elections. The $700 billion that Obamacare cut from Medicare spends it on other programs, Cassidy said, referring to the law shifting some health care spending to premium subsidies for working-age policy holders. The $700 billion in the Ryan budget puts it back into the trust fund.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Sen. Mary Landrieu is wheeling out the geezers in her quest for re-election, while her would-be replacement, Congressman Bill Cassidy, harps on her record of voting with President Barack Obama 97 percent of the time. When it comes to bogus issues, the parties are running neck and neck. Landrieu hopes the oldsters will turn out in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Don’t fall for it ... Bobby Jindal’s ‘magic touch’ with Louisiana budget is imaginary

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions after signing SB667 concerning legacy law suits into law on the last day of legislative session.

We knew that Gov. Bobby Jindal was a modern Midas, because no sooner had he taken up ethics than we had the “gold standard.” The magic touch has not deserted him. Just when a budget deficit loomed, he turned over a cushion in some dark corner of the Capitol, and found a wad of cash. Thus,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Free ride, in more ways than one

District Judge J. Robin Free, of Port Allen, was re-elected without opposition a few months ago, but perhaps he wouldn’t have had a free ride if his habitual disregard for the code of ethics had been public knowledge. Free is a great fan of the free ride, which is one of the reasons he now faces suspension.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Voters to decide on geriatric judges

Voters have the chance next month to end mandatory retirement for judges, and there are many reasons to do so. Any senior judge will be happy to list them for you, or, at least, the ones he can remember. Just kidding, your honors. Nobody could seriously suggest our judges turn… Continue reading →

James Gill: Industry has a stake in restoration

Oyster reefs. You gotta love ’em. In fact, they are so widely prized that conservationists, big oil and the state are working in unison to build a bunch along the Louisiana coast. The American Wetlands Foundation in its latest TV advertisement trumpets the project as an example of the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bullets and biscuits: a Port Allen lunch story

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Exterior of the restaurant at Bergeron's Boudin and Cajun Meats in Port Allen. The restaurant has been getting some national media attention over owner Kevin Cox's 10 percent discount to any gun-toting customer that eats at his establishment.

Here is the news. Dateline, Port Allen. The Future. What police are calling “a regrettable but unavoidable mishap” occurred in a restaurant here yesterday. A woman customer at a table in the center of the room, reaching for the hot sauce to sprinkle on her jambalaya, knocked her purse off the table. When it landed… Continue reading →

James Gill: Lapeyre’s audacity knows no bounds

There comes a point where a chronic betrayal of the public trust begins to earn grudging admiration. Jay Lapeyre has received and richly deserved the scornful attention of just about every newspaper scribe in Louisiana, but that hardly makes him special. He has refused to take the honorable course and resign his official… Continue reading →

James Gill: The Greenstein problem for Jindal

What does he know, and is he gonna squeal on anyone? Those questions will be all the more pointed when an indictment is handed up against a public official. In the case of Bruce Greenstein, who allegedly perjured himself nine times during and after a relatively brief stint as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Health Department secretary, we have… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edwards nothing if not resilient

In a field of 13 candidates for Congress, only one has “articulated measures relevant” to Louisiana’s sixth district. So says Len Bahr, whose views carry some weight. A former LSU professor, and coastal science adviser to five governors, Bahr is nowadays a dedicated blogger and fan of the Flood Protection Authority lawsuit seeking redress from the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edmonson amendment dead on arrival

The Edmonson amendment was friendless in the end and DOA in court. Judge Janice Clark was merely required to list the multiple constitutional failures that proved fatal. Legal questions are seldom as easy to resolve as this. Those responsible for the scheme to give State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson… Continue reading →

James Gill: A business plan for Fair Grounds

It had been a splendid dinner, and I was in expansive mood as my manservant drove me home. “After you’ve put the car in the garage, bring me a glass of that 1915 Armagnac, Joe,” I said. “I’ll be on the bench at the end of the pergola.” The views of the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Party endorsement makes good comedy

The Democratic State Central Committee is not a larky kind of outfit, so its latest news release couldn’t have been a hoax. It sure read like one, though. The committee had “voted overwhelming” to endorse Edwin Edwards for Congress. As if endorsing an ex-con weren’t enough of a joke, we read that Edwards completes “a slate of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Landrieu campaign’s big whopper

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s flacks could have crowed and told the truth at the same time, but that proved too much of a strain. While lies are only to be expected in their line of work, the real pros will try not to be too transparent. You could see through the Landrieu… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jindal’s armchair foreign policy

Wading into foreign policy over the past few weeks, Gov. Bobby Jindal has scarcely put a foot wrong. That bespeaks caution rather than expertise, but only an ambitious governor would strive to demonstrate a grasp of the world beyond the state line in the first place. When Jindal starts holding forth on Syria, Crimea and Russia, it… Continue reading →

James Gill: Man with dark past hid in plain sight

Scott Rogers

Scott Rogers, supposedly terrified that his past would catch up with him, sure chose an odd line of work in Baton Rouge. He hoped to lie low while hosting a TV show. Ratings would have to be really dismal for that to work. In his former life, Rogers was Richard Scott-Rogers of Bury St. Edmunds in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Candidates not following Connick model

Times have changed since prosecutors in New Orleans seemed to regard the “adversarial” nature of the justice system as an invitation to win at all costs. Perhaps the new mindset is the legacy of the former, longtime District Attorney Harry Connick, whose assistants were so unconcerned with defendants’ constitutional rights, even in capital cases, that it ceased… Continue reading →

James Gill: A frequent flier hits some turbulence

As staffers review her travel records, Mary Landrieu might hope they will discover that her campaign paid for a trip she took on U.S. Senate business. Republicans, in the buildup to Election Day, are hammering Landrieu for saddling taxpayers with her airfare to fundraisers. The Landrieu campaign, which assures us that her woes… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bill was colossal waste of time

The phone call came from a humble constituent, but the response must have left professional lobbyists green with envy. It is, after all, not often that they can get a bill through the Legislature with barely a peep, even if it fills a legitimate need. This one could only cause disruption. The caller… Continue reading →

James Gill: Cats versus bears: a quick comparison

There are moves afoot to stop killing stray cats and to start killing black bears. The head of one campaign is called Slaughter, but it is not the one that favors potting Louisiana’s official state mammal. These are confusing times. Christel Slaughter is president of the Companion Animal Alliance, which… Continue reading →

James Gill: Perricone’s defense sounds like nonsense

Sal Perricone says he had a constitutional right to post all those wacky tirades online and should not, therefore, be banned from practicing in the federal courts around Baton Rouge. He is out for good in the New Orleans district, having “resigned in lieu of discipline” for appending pseudonymous comments to reports on federal cases on… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edmonson’s gift for old-style politics

In State Police Chief Mike Edmonson’s vision of the future, he was enjoying a lavish pension in addition to his salary as Louisiana lieutenant governor. And, boy, did he deserve it. Edmonson was so eaten up by honor and integrity that he could talk about it for hours. Although he was “flattered” to be regarded as a… Continue reading →

James Gill: 'Plaintiff' a dirty word for LABI

It might be a slight exaggeration to suggest the mission of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is to maximize profits for its Champagne-swilling members and grind the faces of the poor. But when LABI turns its attention to the civil courts, the focus is not on ensuring adequate recompense for the aggrieved. “Plaintiff” is a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Vitter’s dithering on Common Core

David Vitter is evidently out to convince voters that he would be a different kind of governor, and it must be admitted that he is making progress. Take Common Core, for instance. Gov. Bobby Jindal was for it before he was against it, and Vitter, who used to be against it, has… Continue reading →

James Gill: Curious case of least curious lawyers

Lawyers who lack curiosity are generally in the wrong line of work, but they were out in force at New Orleans Criminal Court last week. When City Councilman Jason Williams took the stand as a witness, prosecutors politely declined to grill him about the content of several text messages he exchanged with murder suspect Keith Kisack.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Welcoming the fanatics to town

When Mary Landrieu first ran for the U.S. Senate, retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip Hannan said it would be a sin to vote for her because she approved of Roe v. Wade. A very large number of voters will have some explaining to do when they arrive at the Pearly Gates, because… Continue reading →

James Gill: Metro Council shows its lack of guts

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Metro Councilman John Delgado, right, speaks in favor of a fairness ordinance as time expires after lengthy debate from proponents and opponents in the regularly-scheduled Metro Council meeting Wednesday night. Listening left are Councilwoman Tara Wicker, left and Councilman Ryan Heck, center.

Time ran out Wednesday before the Baton Rouge Metro Council could tell gay people to go to hell, but that is clearly what is going to happen at the next meeting in a couple of weeks. We can only hope the council will content itself with a display of honest bigotry and move on to a different… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jindal gives Edmonson a big thank-you

It may be State Police Chief Mike Edmonson’s job to protect Gov. Bobby Jindal, but simple manners still require a big thank-you. A gift is appropriate, too, and Jindal delivered. Displaying the generosity that always comes with control of other people’s money, he signed a bill drafted with the sole purpose of handing Edmonson an extra-fat… Continue reading →