The year 2013 in Louisiana was mostly marked by things that DIDN’T happen.
A major hurricane didn’t hit the state.
LSU didn’t win a national championship in football.
Gov. Bobby Jindal didn’t get any less conservative.
State Rep. Neil Riser and Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter didn’t get the message from voters until it was too late.
Trina Edwards wasn’t ready for prime time.
And, more importantly, at year’s end, the Hubig Pie factory had yet to reopen after a disastrous fire.
Here are a few of the memorable, more or less, moments from 2013, as gleaned from the front pages of The Advocate:
The big sleazy
“You’re only as good as the woman I feel, and I love feeling her.” — Edwin Edwards, about wife Trina, on the “reality” show, “The Governor’s Wife.” That wisecrack, and others like it, led to the rapid demise of the show.
But no graven images
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on 21 federal charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery, money laundering and filing false tax returns while in office.
A lights-out performance
Despite a 34-minute delay when the Superdome lights went out during Super Bowl XLVII, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “I fully expect we’ll be back here for Super Bowls.”
The new secessionists
The movement by residents of southeast Baton Rouge to form a “city of St. George” has led to talk of secession in other areas of the city — proposals include the Republic of Capital Heights, the Kingdom of Sherwood Forest, and most intriguing, the Grand Duchy of Spanish Town.
Stuck on stupid?
Early in 2013, Gov. Bobby Jindal proclaimed that the GOP has “got to stop being the stupid party…It is time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.” The governor said the party should still oppose abortion rights and gay marriage but that conservatives have to work on “fixing our message” and “winning the battle of ideas.”
West Monrovian Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” made headlines at year’s end with his primitive views on sexuality and race relations. Jindal came to his defense by reminding us that at least Phil’s not Miley Cyrus.
And more ducking power
When state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, ran for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, he ran as an ally of Jindal, the governor’s Brain Trust handled his campaign, and he was backed by the tea party and three Louisiana Republican congressmen. His opponent, Vance McAllister, was backed by a bunch of hairy guys in camo. McAllister’s victory by 20 percentage points had some observers wondering if this was the beginning of a (dare we say it?) dynasty.
Back to the drawing board
Ruling on a suit against the state and Jindal, a Baton Rouge judge struck down a 401(k) type pension plan for future state employees.
And another drawing board
“Let me do something politicians don’t normally do. We’re going to adjust our course. We’re going to park our tax plan.” — Gov. Jindal, as he shelved his plan to eliminate the state income tax and raise the sales tax, in the face of opposition from legislators and a variety of other groups.
One more drawing board?
The Louisiana Supreme Court derailed a funding plan for school vouchers proposed by the Jindal administration.
Hail the Cajun Prince!
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards and wife Trina Scott Edwards became the proud parents of Eli Wallace Edwards. Louisiana Democrats, desperate for a candidate with name recognition, immediately started trying to find a way to get Eli on the ballot in the next governor’s race.
With friends like that …
As chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, Jindal put his Brain Trust to work to elect Ken Cuccinelli governor of Virginia. After Democrat Terry McAuliffe won, Virginia Republicans blamed Jindal and his team for inept campaigning, with one Cuccinelli advisor complaining, “They just blew it.”
Where’s Hoffa, Barack?
A North Carolina polling firm asked Louisiana voters whether George W. Bush or President Barack Obama was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Obama was serving his first term as a U.S. senator from Illinois at the time, but 29 percent of the voters said he was more responsible than Bush (28 percent), who was president when Katrina hit.
Capt. Kipster vs. Super Villain
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden fired Police Chief Dwayne White, calling him a “master of deception” who disobeyed orders and divided the community.
Welcome to hell …
“Texas Brine has taught me more about purgatory and limbo — and I went to Catholic school — than the nuns could.” — Bayou Corne resident Candy Blanchard, one of 350 Assumption Parish residents forced out of their homes by the growing Texas Brine sinkhole and bubbling natural gas.
A ‘Yikes’ moment
“Wow?? Governor sticks it to the disabled community. Match up the line item cuts in HB1 and see what you get. Yikes.” — tweet by state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, after Gov. Jindal deleted $4 million aimed at whittling down the waiting list for home-based services for the developmentally disabled, which can now mean a wait of 10 years for services.
A whiter shade of pale?
You may find this hard to believe, but some people feel that our legislators want to whiten the state’s congressional districts by putting all the black voters in one district.
Pointing out that the 2nd Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, runs like a ribbon from the east shore of Lake Pontchatrain to north Baton Rouge, three Baton Rouge residents said in a suit that the district was “racially gerrymandered,” adding, “The Louisiana Legislature cherry-picked African-American neighborhoods in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and packed them into one district.”
The Port Allen Follies
“Right now, it feels like we’re in a burning barn and I don’t know where to go.” — Port Allen City Councilman R.J. Loupe, on the actions of Mayor Deedy Slaughter.
The mayor is accused of acting without council approval to:
Increase her salary from $65,000 a year to $84,960.
Name brother-in-law Ralph Slaughter, former Southern University president, to a newly created unpaid job as her chief of staff.
Bill taxpayers for expenses for a trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of Obama.
(The voters of Port Allen, in a recall election, freed up Deedy to pursue another line of work.)
LSU running back Jeremy Hill was suspended from the team after a bar fight in Tigerland resulted in his being arrested on simple battery charges. Hill was already on probation from a 2010 high school incident. He later rejoined the team after agreeing to limit his acts of violence to the football field.
When former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, U.S. District Judge Hayden Head Jr. said Broussard’s effort to get kickbacks from a Kentucky businessman and a job for his then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) were “sophomoric.”
Records showed that Jindal did not visit 16 states in the continental United States during 2012, but he did visit the others, spending 86 days out of state, primarily campaigning for conservative Republican candidates.
One love, mon!
The family of the late Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley is suing the Raising Cane’s chicken finger chain over the use of the slogan “One Love,” the title of a Marley song.
Ironically, Cane’s dispenses south Louisiana’s favorite munchies…
Well, it’s called Cowboy’s
“The city of Scott is where the West begins, but this is taking it too far.” — Scott Police Chief Chad Leger, after a man twice rode a horse into Cowboy’s Saloon and lassoed a patron.
After the University of Arkansas made overtures to LSU’s head football coach Les Miles to come lead the Razorbacks, Miles’ salary was bumped from $3.7 million a year to $4.3 million.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said, “We planned all along to give him a raise, but Arkansas came along and gave him a very good offer, so that sped up the process.”
“Nobody has to buy tickets. We have a great product, and in free enterprise in America, when you’ve got a great product, you’re rewarded and people buy your product.” — LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McCollister Jr., defending ticket price increases for LSU football and baseball games.
See no evil
A panel of scientists told the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that New Orleans may go underwater by the end of this century.
No Republicans on the committee, including Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the ranking GOP member, attended the hearing on global warming.
See no evil II
“In presidential history it’s almost a case study of how not to behave during a national crisis. It was a gloss job. He glossed over Katrina.” — Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, on the way the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas spun Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
We’re No. 1 — duck!
As the Louisiana Legislature continued efforts to arm every man, woman and child in the state, the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, D.C., released figures ranking Louisiana first among all states for gun violence rates.
We’re No. — oh, 50 or so
“Our Deep South intolerant attitudes tend toward us being at the bottom of the list, and we’ll probably be last in terms of catching up to equality.” — Joe Traigle of Baton Rouge, activist for the gay community, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, giving married gay couples equal federal footing with all other married Americans.
Uh, guys, being gay’s not a crime
Undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies staked out a park and arrested gay men under Louisiana’s “anti-sodomy” law — which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago. Sheriff Sid Gautreaux spent the rest of the year apologizing to any gay people he could find in the parish.
Pray for good health
“When these citizens get sick, all they are going to remember is you voted no.” — state Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, to her fellow House members after a committee killed her bill to require the state to expand the Medicaid program to cover some 400,000 uninsured residents.
It’s good to be King
LSU President King Alexander won the position by beating out — well, nobody. He was the sole candidate named as a finalist by the LSU Board of Supervisors. The one-candidate secret selection led the Faculty Senate to pass a vote of no confidence in the board, and The Advocate and LSU’s Daily Reveille to file suit to determine what other candidates had been considered before Alexander was named the sole finalist.
No pie for you!
In New Orleans, the Hubig’s Pie factory burned, leaving south Louisiana residents without one of their favorite treats.
City in crisis!
Imbibers in New Orleans declared a state of emergency when the Planning Commission considered the issue of banning go cups.
It’s good to be the dictator
“Clearly, the governor would prefer to run the state like a dictatorship. He shouldn’t be in the business of trying to fire people for telling the truth.” — state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, one of a group of Republican state representatives accusing Gov. Jindal of trying to secretly have state Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell fired for speaking out against the governor’s proposed budget.
Sign of the Apocalypse
The Metro Council voted to allow alcohol sales at BREC parks and to allow Baton Rouge casinos to serve alcohol 24 hours a day.
“Blue Sunday, how I hate Blue Sunday … ”
“It is outdated, archaic and a result of a mindset by some on the Metro Council that we must all be dictated to in terms of their religious views.” — Restaurant patron Donald Hodge, on the Baton Rouge blue law that forbids restaurants from serving alcohol with Sunday brunch before 11 a.m.
Let ’em walk!
LA Swift, a popular low-cost bus service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that primarily benefited low-income citizens, ended when Louisiana’s DOTD (Department of Transportation and Delays) refused to put up a $750,000 match to get a $2.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
Going without breakfast
The venerable Brennan’s French Quarter restaurant on Royal Street, home of “Breakfast at Brennan’s,” closed due to a dispute among members of the Brennan family.
Wisconsin — The Hurricane State
The state hired a Wisconsin emergency response company to help evacuees with special medical needs during hurricanes.
“We’re talking about real snakes, not the two-legged kind.” — Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, after water snakes from nearby Capitol Lake were found to have infested the State Capitol.
An infestation of scorpions at the Orleans Parish jail complex was cited by Sheriff Marlin Gussman as one the reasons for nearly $600,000 in extermination expenditures since 2010. Adjacent Jefferson Parish spent less than $14,000 controlling pests in its jail over the same time frame.
A conservative Southern Republican politician is involved in a sleazy sex scandal but is forgiven by the voters and goes on to win election to Congress. Yes, this really happened, in … South Carolina?