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 Landrieu is about to run for her fourth term. At the time, she described herself as “pro-choice, but not… 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 topic after rejecting the anti-discrimination ordinance. It would be a Christian act to spare us the hypocritical pieties to which… 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 retirement. The terms of the bill also happen to fit a state trooper in Houma, but the boost to his… Continue reading →

James Gill: As hogs run wild, Lee sorely missed

Photo provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceFeral hogs on the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge have been identified as a nuisance on public and private lands throughout Louisiana. The state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has authorized the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to develop a set of regulations that would allow private landowners to take feral hogs from helicopters, a move some coastal landowners believe is the best way to control the state's increasing wild hog population.

When Harry Lee was Jefferson Parish sheriff, his SWAT teams shot a lot of nutria. Their efforts were a great blessing to mankind. The destruction of suburban canal banks was arrested, and newspaper reporters quit filing stories in which nutria were invariably and excruciatingly described as “orange-toothed rodents.” The evident success of the nutria purge does not bode well for feral hogs, which are undermining the levees as they root around for food. The local levee… Continue reading →

James Gill: Nagin’s attitude might make time seem longer

What Ray Nagin will do, if he is wise for once, is arrange a long conversation with a bunch of ex-cons. That would do him much more good than listening to supporters who tell him he is the innocent victim of what one termed a “new-age lynching.” If he reports to the pen in September believing that nonsense, his time inside will seem even longer. It will feel like serving the sentence that federal guidelines called… Continue reading →

James Gill: Church fighting illusory threat

It may be regarded as bold to question the Baton Rouge Diocese in matters of Catholic doctrine, but here goes with a little devilment. The diocese has just issued a statement that seems to misconstrue the rule that confessions are confidential. It gets some crucial facts wrong, too. The statement came in response to a state Supreme Court order reinstating a lawsuit filed on behalf of a girl who claimed to have told her priest, Jeff… Continue reading →

James Gill: McAllister can’t stump on family values now

The first time Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, said being a congressman “sucks,” his audience at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce did not commence snickering and elbowing one another in the ribs. That was in January, a few weeks after he won a special election. By the time he repeated the remark in April, however, wisenheimers could say he sure knew what he was talking about, having been caught on a surveillance tape sucking face with a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Amendment might be fuss over nothing

It’s beginning to seem like a lot of fuss over nothing. For the last two years, Louisiana has had what are billed as the strongest gun rights in the country. The practical effect so far has been nil, except for the vast sums of public money spent on litigation. When voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring gun laws to meet the more elevated standard known as “strict scrutiny” in court, defense attorneys leaped at a new… Continue reading →

James Gill: Baton Rouge trails on tolerance front

“Baton Rouge is a city filled with caring, compassionate people,” and a poll shows 62 percent in favor of equal rights for gay people. So says a fact sheet put out by proponents of an ordinance, up for consideration this month, that would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. But the proposition that all God’s children deserve an even break is not one that Christian firebrands are prepared to accept, and spirited opposition is… Continue reading →

James Gill: Robertson fine with being on state dole

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

Every now and then the Robertson clan will receive some flak on the blogosphere for accepting about $70,000 a month in state subsidies for filming “Duck Dynasty.” It’s happening again right now. Daddy dynast Phil, whose right-wing views embrace a profound and outspoken disdain for welfare, is being roundly denounced as a hypocrite. It should be obvious that Robertson is much different from run-of-the mill recipients of the public dole. They get it because they need… Continue reading →

James Gill: Opting not to take death lying down

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee Allen Toussaint pays his respects at the display of Mickey Easterling at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  After passing away April 14, Mickey Easterling, a New Orleans socialite known as much for her grand lifestyle and outlandish hats as for her civic, cultural and political activism, sits on a bench surrounded by flowers and some of her other favorite things.  Her family declined to release her age, noting she once said, Age is a number, and mines unlisted.  Easterling, born Marycathyren Gambino, hosted many charity and political fundraisers at her home, welcoming such guests as singers Paul Simon and Robert Goulet, actor Larry Hagman, writer and composer Paul Bowles and a range of political figures including former Gov. Edwin Edwards and retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

The latest fashion at wakes is propping up the decedent in a lifelike pose, and New Orleans-based Schoen Funeral Home is leading the way. In April, it arranged for mourners at the Saenger Theater to be greeted posthumously by socialite Mickey Easterling, dressed to the nines with a boa spilling over the wrought-iron bench on which she had been seated. In one cold dead hand was a glass of Champagne; a cigarette holder was in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Vitter beats odds with political ascendance

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican running for governor in the 2015 election, speaks to the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, June 16, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. Vitter said he would consider supporting an expansion of Louisiana's Medicaid program and needed to do more research on the Common Core education standards before taking a position on them. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte) ORG XMIT: RPMD202

Getting elected governor is much easier if you have a winning personality, a sterling record in another public office and no known vices. Two out of three will take a candidate a long way most of the time, one might do in a weak field, but a zero should be the kiss of death. If you are rated “least effective” in your current job, have never been accused of charm or wit, played a central role… Continue reading →

James Gill: Freudian slip trips up Nagin lawyer

Freudian slips don’t get more telling than this. The one person Robert Jenkins did not want to bring to mind, as he penned a motion seeking a break for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, had to be Mark St. Pierre. Jenkins wanted attention focused on former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who, he claimed, was badder than Nagin. Edwards got 10 years for racketeering, and it would be a grave injustice, according to Jenkins, for… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jindal to far right of Big Oil on fees, taxes

A couple of organizations have been ruing the environmental degradation caused by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Pavlovian opposition to any fee or tax. Perhaps you are thinking that’s only to be expected from the likes of the Sierra Club, say, or the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Guess again. Nobody can dismiss Jindal’s latest detractors as job-destroying tree-huggers, for the gripe comes from the state’s oil and gas industry associations. Just after Jindal signed that bill… Continue reading →

James Gill: Judicial reform effort seems doomed

The wheels of justice grind slowly, they say, but that shouldn’t be the case in Louisiana, which has judges out the wazoo. The surfeit is especially marked in New Orleans, where several courts have always appeared to serve principally as a means of job creation. Since Katrina left the city with a much reduced population, judges there have spent even more time twiddling their thumbs on the taxpayer’s dime. A Bureau of Governmental Research… Continue reading →

James Gill: Time has come for settlement on coast damage

According to Gov. Bobby Jindal, the purpose of the bill closest to his heart in the legislative session just ended was to “clarify” state law. It didn’t work. By the time legislators were through, confusion was worse confounded, and Jindal, who had planned to sign the bill at a news conference, was obliged to put his pen back in his pocket temporarily. In truth, the law was plain enough to start with, but it did not… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bill just a favor to local business

Opinions in the legislature were divided over whether a 550-pound Bengal tiger can find happiness living alone in a cage outside a truck stop in Grosse Tete. No wonder Louisiana is in a pickle. A question that could not be regarded as worth debating in rational circles ate up hour after hour as the session neared its end. If legislators really wanted to know what Tony the Tiger thinks of his current accommodations, they needed only… Continue reading →

James Gill: Stanford scandal touches election season

It’s been five years since Allen Stanford’s massive Ponzi scheme unraveled, but his victims, many of them in Louisiana, have failed to get a penny back. Investors who were similarly swindled by Bernard Madoff in New York, however, qualified for payouts up to $500,000 from the Security Investors Protection Corporation. Louisiana’s U.S. senators, thirsting either for justice or votes, have taken up the cause. Although they may not be… Continue reading →

James Gill: State is now Jindal’s side gig

D ischarging all the duties of one office while campaigning for another may not be impossible, so long as no sleep is required and the mind can juggle several disparate and complex ideas at the same time. We are still waiting for a paragon of statesmanship, so something’s gotta give when a governor runs for president, and it will generally be the folks back home. Such is Louisiana’s fate, with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s… Continue reading →

James Gill: Reed’s antics keep newspapers busy

The New Orleans newspaper war centers these days on the sleazy antics of St. Tammany Parish DA Walter Reed. Fortunately, there are plenty to go round. That other rag will report some glaringly unethical stunt, and The Advocate an entirely different one. There is fresh dirt almost daily. Sometimes it seems we need a third paper if we are to gauge the full extent of Reed’s greed and treachery. Surely, the voters now know quite enough,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Tax didn’t figure in Super Bowl bid

Aw, Shucks. Once that hotel tax increase died in the legislature, New Orleans’ chances of landing the 2018 Super Bowl were supposed to go way up. The theory was that NFL owners would be more likely to embrace New Orleans if it didn’t mean sitting back and watching the public pay through the nose. The glaring flaw in that theory was that’s how they all got to be billionaires in the first place. Now that… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bungled case leaves only one smiling

When a railroaded convict is released after 34 years in prison, it might seem a little odd to congratulate prosecutors for the speed with which justice was finally done. Reginald Adams’ two murder trials may have been the most flagrant stitch-up ever perpetrated in the 30 years Harry Connick spent as New Orleans DA. Sure, that’s a bold claim, but it required two thoroughly unscrupulous prosecutors, and two policemen telling whoppers from the stand, to send Adams… Continue reading →

James Gill: A dubious role model on the bench

How to teach young thugs respect for the law and for authority is a question that has no easy answers. What we can say, however, is that a judge facing her own indictment is not the ideal role model. When juvenile delinquents in New Orleans are hauled before Judge Yolanda King, they will snicker if adjured to tell the truth. There will always be some bad boy to make sure word gets out that King is accused… Continue reading →

James Gill: Oil and gas owe Louisiana big time

If there were a rational case against making oil and gas pay for polluting and destroying Louisiana wetlands, we would have heard it by now. Instead, we have been fed a diet of non sequiturs and lies. That was good enough for the state Senate, which voted last week to kill the Flood Protection Authority lawsuit that seeks redress for spoliation in the coastal zone from 97 companies. Those companies are not entirely off the hook,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Scaring neighbors into submission

It’s an old negotiating trick. Make some truly outrageous demand, reduce it to the merely unreasonable, then seek credit for a willingness to make concessions. Such, it seems, is the approach of Perez, the architectural and development company that wants to destroy the Holy Cross neighborhood in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward in order to save it. Opinions vary on whether the Perez plan represents civic progress or money-grubbing vandalism. When the City Council votes today… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jail stay proves fatal for mother

Nimali Henry died in jail because she was too insistent on seeing her 4-month-old daughter. St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s deputies found her body on the floor of her cell last month. She’d been there for two weeks, her pressing medical needs apparently ignored. She was 19. Hers is a story to make the blood boil. No sane justice system would have locked her up in the first place. She was arrested after turning up at a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jindal could use campaign miracle

If just one miracle can win sainthood for Pope John XXIII, it should sure be enough to make Gov. Bobby Jindal president. Canonization usually requires two miracles, but John XXIII got a waiver from Pope Francis, so that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints only had to verify one cure pulled off from beyond the grave. How the congregation goes about the chore of proving miracles is something of a mystery — there is… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bill puts public in dark about courts

A bill filed in response to a case of jury tampering in Caddo Parish continues on its merry way through the Legislature, although its sponsors concede it will do nothing to prevent further violations. It will, however, introduce an element of secrecy in trials, where the rights of the citizenry will never be secure without public scrutiny. Black people, with the odds already stacked against them, will be especially leery. The impetus for the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Penalties seem like reefer madness

When the sheriffs and district attorneys team up in Baton Rouge, they are pretty much guaranteed to have their way. So Louisiana remains out of step, spending millions putting harmless potheads in prison long after the rest of the South has recognized that marijuana possession poses no serious threat to civic order, and made it a relatively minor offense. A Senate committee shot down the latest attempt Tuesday to inject some humanity… Continue reading →

James Gill: If Louisiana Family Forum is for a bill, surely, rational people are against it

Whatever the Louisiana Family Forum is for in the Legislature, any rational being will be against. Naturally, the forum wins every time. Its latest triumph came last week when legislators declined to remove an anti-gay relic of the dark ages from the books. The law, which criminalizes anal and oral sex, cannot be enforced because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional 11 years ago, but there is no need to be embarrassed by the refusal… Continue reading →