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James Gill: Marco Rubio goes for laughs with Bobby Jindal praise

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 →

James Gill: Despite Times-Picayune layoffs, strong journalism still needed in New Orleans

A newspaperman writing about the role of journalism is in great danger of appearing a pompous ass. But your correspondent will fearlessly run that risk. You know the drill, so we’ll keep it short, merely averring that democracy needs a vigorous press and attributing the sentiment to Thomas Jefferson. It has to be said again because… Continue reading →

James Gill: A very serious sin still a campaign turn-on

Asked at a gubernatorial campaign forum the other day whether he had ever violated Title 14, U.S. Sen. David Vitter did what he always does when prostitution rears its ugly head, and ducked. In 2007, he admitted committing a “very serious sin” but has steadfastly refused to satisfy the media’s hunger for titillating detail ever since.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Real ID won't fly, but you will with your noncompliant Louisiana driver's license

The feds are still threatening to stop you boarding an airplane with only a Louisiana driver’s license for ID. It’s high time they quit trying this bluff. We are not falling for it, and it’s already cost billions. We are asked to believe that we will not be allowed on any flight unless we can produce… Continue reading →

James Gill: Time for Lee to surrender his pedestal

As soon as Dylann Roof became a household name, Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposed removing Confederate heroes from the streets of New Orleans. He was hardly alone in springing into action after the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. When the Confederate battle flag is removed even from the grounds of the South Carolina capitol, a profound change… Continue reading →

James Gill: Illiberal judges draw line at Danziger Bridge follies

Judge Kurt Engelhardt

The hero of the hour has to be Kurt Engelhardt, the federal judge who ruled in 2013 that five cops convicted in the Danziger Bridge bloodbath were entitled to a new trial. That was pretty brave decision, given universal revulsion over the cowboy officers who opened fired on unarmed civilians in the hectic aftermath of Katrina and… Continue reading →

James Gill: Only America believes in myth of scholar/athlete; lowering GPA for extracurricular activities could be beneficial for some kids

Reporters always will vie to see who can get the most outlandish quote in the paper, but it won’t be easy to match The Advocate’s Charles Lussier. It was Lussier’s good fortune to cover the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board debate on a proposal to lower the GPA required for extracurricular activities from 2.0 to 1.5.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jaw-dropping news, brought to you by Coca-Cola: Lazy kids get fat

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- PBRC Executive Director Dr. William Cefalu, presents Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, left, with the first t-shirt for the program as Gov. Bobby Jindal, right, and legislators watch. Announced at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a New Translational Research Clinic for Children (TReCC). It's a Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Research Program with a new pediatric research clinic which is one of only a few of its kind in the nation dedicated to research in obesity in children.

We can all be proud today, because the latest scientific breakthrough comes from right here in Baton Rouge. The frontier of human knowledge is never advanced without considerable effort, but LSU researchers were especially diligent on this occasion. They collected and analyzed data “from 12 countries and every continent, except Antarctica,” according to the news release… Continue reading →

James Gill: 'Absurd' Angola death row lawsuit over heat 'price we pay for retaining the death penalty'

Advocate staff file photo by Mark Saltz --The arms of two death row inmates could be seen on B Tier at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on March 3, 2009. Fans above and to the right of the cells, are alleged by some inmates to be the only source of cooling during summer months when heat indexes allegedly exceed 100 degrees. Three inmates sued the prison Monday in an effort to force a heat index limit of 88 degrees on death row.

Hot enough for you? You’ll hear that dumb question everywhere this week, but it would be a sadistic screw who asked it on Angola’s death row. The heat index there constitutes cruel and unusual punishment even while the temperature outside is normal. So says the federal appeals court in New Orleans, though it… Continue reading →

James Gill: Don’t expect Sen. David Vitter to cough up $70,000 to Louisiana to pay for legal fees to his campaign operation

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., watches before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne must be cracking under the strain of running for governor. He somehow got it into his head that U.S. Sen. David Vitter is forcing “the state of Louisiana to pay $70,000 in legal fees to his campaign operation.” But the money is going to the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, which has absolutely nothing… Continue reading →

James Gill: Ray Nagin’s creative legal argument suggests he should have retrial

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Former mayor C. Ray Nagin leaves court with his wife Seletha Nagin and attorney Robert Jenkins after being found guilty on 20 of 21 counts in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.

Imagine you paid off a public official only to find he would have done what you wanted anyway. Shoot, that money could have been used to meet some other cost of doing business in Louisiana. And what if another politician showed up with his hand out? There might not be enough money left… Continue reading →