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Our Views: A runoff on schools

Pictures of Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus

No good deed goes unpunished, Rahm Emanuel. The former White House chief of staff is the mayor of the Windy City, and he’s made some tough calls in public education — enduring a teacher strike and earning the enmity of the Chicago Teachers Union, because he’s closed 50 failing schools in his first term. The… Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Common Core puts Dardenne at odds with opponents

Among Louisiana’s candidates for governor, Republican Jay Dardenne is alone in his support for the divisive Common Core education standards, a position that could help define his campaign. Stakeholders in the heated education debate disagree about whether that stance is wise or toxic for the lieutenant governor, and it remains unclear whether it could help determine Dardenne’s… Continue reading →

Letter: Immigration problem is nothing new

The debate on immigration didn’t just start in the last few years. Former Gov. Mike Foster served from 1996 to 2004, and the union that I am a member of had several informational picket lines during that time that I was a part of. From the picket lines, we handed… Continue reading →

Letter: Consider new approach to doling out tax breaks

Congratulations on your articles about the special tax breaks that certain companies (and even individuals) get. They were very timely, given the state budget troubles in the news. I think many people would agree that the tax breaks we give out should not come at the expense of the basic functions of state… Continue reading →

Letter: Fund should be used for its intended purpose

In 1989, Louisiana voters wanted to make sure that state taxes on gas and diesel were spent on transportation-related improvements, so they wisely passed a constitutional amendment to create the Transportation Trust Fund. Until recently, that fund was a stable, albeit inadequate, source to finance construction and maintenance projects for roads, bridges… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for March 1, 2015

What are Mr. Spock and Governor Jindal doing in a cartoon together? Continue reading →

Our Views: New Viking River Cruises on Mississippi River good for Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- John and Nancy Yingling, from New Jersey, passengers from the American Queen riverboat, come ashore in Baton Rouge for an afternoon of touring. Last year, about 5,000 passengers visited Baton Rouge through 26 riverboat dockings

It’s difficult to believe possible after a successful 2015 Carnival season, but America’s great river is going to be even more fun in the future. Viking River Cruises, a major provider of high-end river cruises on other continents, will make New Orleans the home port for its first North American itineraries. In 2017, the European… Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Perfidy and poison: What’s left of the levee lawsuit

When opponents of a Louisiana levee board’s lawsuit against energy-related companies wanted to kill the ill-advised legal action last year, they were right to be frustrated by a hideously expensive, so-called “poison pill” in the board’s contract with its lawyers. But if the poison pill was bad, there’s a separate, perfidious provision that’s even… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana's coastal decline a national problem; does President Obama care?

James Gill

Does President Barack Obama hate Louisiana? Citing a newspaper headline asking that question, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, at a recent budget hearing, seemed to think the answer is yes. While we cannot know what is in Obama’s heart, it would be reasonable to assume that Louisiana is not his favorite state. We don’t… Continue reading →

Our Views: Real war, budget war

There’s a war on, with the Congress debating the terms of the formal resolution of approval for military action against the Islamic State horrors in the Middle East. But that’s not the only thing on the plate of the nation’s 25th secretary of the Defense Department, and it may not even be the longest war that… Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: This just in: a random act of kindness

I want you to meet Jack Scott, Tony Monroe and James Fox. What they did the other day does not rank among the great acts of heroism. And some might say what they did is not newsworthy. Human kindness, though, is always big, no matter how small an act. Read on.… Continue reading →

Letter: State should lift ban on same-sex marriage

The state should lift the ban on same-sex marriage. There is nothing wrong with gay people, and this is just a social stigma due to Louisiana’s predominantly religious background. America is a free country with the right to freedom of religion, so everybody should have the right to legally marry whomever they choose.… Continue reading →

Letter: Conservatives, liberals can find common ground

We read a lot of columnists and letters in The Advocate about how it seems to be impossible for conservatives and liberals to find common ground. A few weeks ago, I made a favorable online Advocate comment to Danny Heitman about his one of his recent “At Random” columns.… Continue reading →

Letter: Make keeping the state clean of litter a priority

Each year in Louisiana, municipalities, parishes and state agencies spend more than $40 million on litter abatement. As shocking as that sounds, that’s only the beginning of the true cost of litter in Louisiana. The indirect economic costs of litter are also considerable. A littered, neglected community decreases property values by 7… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Feb. 27, 2015

Is the dizzying array of misinformation coming from Bill O’Reilly catching up with him? Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: David Vitter is 'absolutely a problem' for Bobby Jindal's presidential campaign, and here's why

U.S. Sen. David Vitter; Gov. Bobby Jindal

Pretty much everyone who follows Louisiana politics knows that the state’s two leading officials, Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, aren’t allies. They’re not even “frenemies,” two people who don’t like each other but manage to work together toward common goals. Nope. The only apparent connections between these two are the… Continue reading →

Our Views: President Obama ignores the evidence, bows to politics with Keystone veto

Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, left, with 350 DC, and Lindsey Halvorson, 20, a student at American University, gather up their signs after attending a celebration gathering with other opponents of Keystone XL oil pipeline, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in support of President Barack Obama's veto of the legislation, outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ordinarily, we’d be somewhat sympathetic to President Barack Obama’s stated position on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, as it is a matter of a president’s prerogative on foreign policy. Because the pipeline will bring Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast, the U.S. government must approve its construction. As much as we… Continue reading →

Letter: Barry’s lawsuit targeting energy industry is incredibly misguided

John Barry’s recent column is just as misguided as the unprecedented lawsuit he initiated more than two years ago. Contrary to Barry’s assertion that “the lawsuit was never the problem,” it is worth noting that three different branches of government have now weighed in on the massive litigation targeting Louisiana’s energy industry filed by the Southeast Louisiana… Continue reading →

Letter: Beacon Hill’s report on EPA plan not a credible source

Earlier this week, Quin Hillyer published an opinion article titled “Obama carbon rule would choke Louisiana.” The basis for Hillyer’s argument is a joint report with the Beacon Hill Institute and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy. Recently revealed documents by The Guardian show that a lobbyist named Richard Berman funded the Beacon Hill… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bobby Jindal misses chance to court extremists

James Gill

Bobby Jindal must be kicking himself for letting Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, steal his thunder. That could have been Jindal making the Limeys howl with derision by refusing to say whether he believed in evolution. But when Jindal was in London a few weeks ago, there was no time to address the issue, because reporters kept asking… Continue reading →

Our Views: Love, where you find it

The governor of Louisiana is firm on this point: “The president loves America, he loves our country. There’s no doubt about that.” As doubting that obvious fact has become something of a cottage industry in the nascent 2016 presidential campaign, we’re glad to hear Bobby Jindal put that canard to rest. But we can go… Continue reading →

Letter to the editor: 'Immigration reform' hurts American citizens' ability to find jobs

Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other, Friday, July 4, 2014, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif. Demonstrators on both sides of the immigration debate had gathered where the agency was foiled earlier in an attempt to bus in and process some of the immigrants who have flooded the Texas border with Mexico. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

A few weeks ago, the president claimed that “the shadow of the crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” His claim was based almost solely on his assertion that unemployment is lower than any point since 2009. While the unemployment rate the White House touts is almost half of what it was in… Continue reading →

Letter: College sports revenue should be redirected to support academics

We have a budget crisis in Louisiana, so cuts are being considered once again on funding college, university and education programs. Colleges and universities in Louisiana have football, basketball, baseball/softball, gymnastics, etc., that pay millions of dollars in salaries to coaches, but can’t afford to keep professors employed! Do colleges and universities exist for advanced educational programs… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Feb. 25, 2015

Here’s a new allergy to be worried about... Continue reading →

Our Views: Something strange and wonderful in Louisiana? Smart, accomplished governor's candidates willing to debate the issues

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- First 2015 gubernatorial forum sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana. From left at table, John Bel Edwards, David Vitter, Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle. Topic was transportation issues.

Something strange — and welcome — is happening in the early days of Louisiana’s gubernatorial race. Although the primary election won’t be held until this fall, the four announced candidates are already vigorously debating the issues. Four rivals for Louisiana’s top political job — Democratic state representative John Bel Edwards and Republican candidates U.S. Sen. David… Continue reading →

Letter to editor: How, why we should make Mardi Gras festivities, spirit go year-round

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- The Fantastic Voyages title float of  Endymion rolls down Orleans Avenue in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The 3,000 member superkrewe rolled on the traditional Mid-City route. William Garcia was King. Rachel Miriam Blanchard was the Queen.The guest grand marshal was country singer Luke Bryan. Throws from the floats included Valentine's Day themed items including lighted roses, heart pendants and rings.

In the days leading up to Mardi Gras, national media outlets turned their attention to Louisiana’s many cultural eccentricities: our food, our music, our creativity, things that come from an incredibly long-term investment that is hard to comprehend amid passing floats and while staring at the bottom of an empty Bourbon shot. But, in fact, this fleeting spectacle… Continue reading →

Letter: Unemployment rate not an accurate depiction of labor utilization

The February jobs report indicated that businesses created 257,000 jobs in January, but the unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent. It seems odd that unemployment increased when so many jobs were created. This is an indicator that the jobs reports are not accurate. The official unemployment rate increased in January mainly because people who had previously… Continue reading →

Letter: Unions not that important now to laborers

Unions have been in the news recently regarding the Steel Workers of America going on strike in our area. The one thing that all of those newspaper stories fail to tell you is the amount of money in question. You don’t hear that all of the workers are already very well paid. Also, you are not told that… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: Government Street site a perfect canvas for urban planner with record of success in Baton Rouge and beyond

Both Baton Rouge and Lafayette have been fertile fields for the near-madness level of genius of urban planner AndrĂ©s Duany. In Lafayette, his New Urbanist philosophy guided the development of River Ranch and other developments that have spawned considerable financial successes and new thinking about urban residential living. In downtown Baton Rouge, Duany’s New Urbanist vision sketched… Continue reading →

Dennis Persica: In education-reform debate, 'choice' is just a feel-good word masking the true issues

In the debate over education “reform” — a discussion that extends from tuition vouchers and teachers’ unions to standardized tests and school governance — one of the more popular catchwords is “choice.” Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education plan, introduced in Washington last month, calls parent choice “foundational” because, “by establishing a consumer driven market ecosystem,” it… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Petal an example of why Louisiana film tax credits need better monitoring

If Malcolm Petal was a character in some big-budget caper film — perhaps even one of the numerous movies shot in Louisiana since the state instituted its generous production tax credit — he might well be the protagonist. Movies are big on anti-heroes these days, and Petal, a lawyer-turned-convicted-crook who admitted to ripping off the film… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Feb. 24, 2015

Here is the latest from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman. Continue reading →

Letter: District judge’s ruling on immigration grasps at straws

Earlier this month, a federal district judge out of Brownsville, Texas, Andrew Hanen, issued a temporary injunction against the implementation of the Obama administration’s executive actions on prosecutorial discretion in immigration, known as “DAPA” and “Expanded DACA.” The ruling is estimated to block a presidential order that would have eventually allowed more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to… Continue reading →

Letter: Letter writer wrong on conservative history

Wow. Wow. A recent letter to the editor suggests that “self-proclaimed conservatives,” who according to the writer includes only white people (hello, Thomas Sowell?), consider hyphenated Americans “subhuman.” Why then would those conservatives be against hyphenation? What a piece of unclear reasoning. Where were his good liberals when American Indians were driven off their lands? He… Continue reading →

Letter: Meat-free diet has benefits beyond Lent

This month marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before launching his ministry. But meat-free Lent is much more than a symbol of religious devotion to Christ. It helps reduce the risk of chronic disease,… Continue reading →

Letter: La. accountability must continue

In 1999, under Gov. Mike Foster, Louisiana created the LEAP test, measuring how well schools teach college and workplace skills. As a result of this Louisiana “accountability” plan, achievement has improved. The state’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, for example. Louisiana still ranks among the bottom three states in reading… Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Speculation over Jindal’s budget ends this week

Gov. Bobby Jindal unveils his budget-cutting recommendations this week, ending the backroom chatter of just how bad things might look and putting the grim reality out in public. Louisiana’s colleges have gotten most of the attention so far about the deep slashing that’s up for consideration, but that’s likely to change when lawmakers and the public see… Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Obama carbon rule would choke Louisiana

A soon-to-be-released report from the conservative Pelican Institute tallies the damage to Louisiana from yet another initiative of President Barack Obama’s administration, which seems to be at permanent war against Louisiana interests. The report, a joint project with the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University in Boston, tallies the projected costs of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Feb. 22, 2015

Here is the latest from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman. Continue reading →

Our Views: Flood-protection board hamstrung by lawyers

A New Orleans area flood protection authority punted its civic obligation Thursday, deciding — with more of a shrug than a game plan — to soldier on with its lawsuit against scores of oil and gas companies for damaging Louisiana’s coastline. The panel didn’t even bother to vote after its attorney threatened to send over a legal bill… Continue reading →