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James Gill: Britain’s EU exit wouldn’t hurt Louisiana

It’s Brexit day, and here I am in London, where, thanks to dual citizenship, I have a vote. My colleagues at The Advocate will be displeased that I am voting for out. In an editorial the other day, they argued that Louisiana will suffer economically if Britain leaves the European Union. Indeed, my colleagues at The… Continue reading →

James Gill: Time to let Montgomery go free

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2015 file photo, people line up outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, as the justices began to discuss sentences for young prison 'lifers.' A decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana. The Supreme Court ruled Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, that people serving life terms for murders they committed as teenagers must have a chance to seek their freedom. The court ruled in the case of Henry Montgomery, who has been in prison more than 50 years, since he killed a sheriff's deputy as a 17-year-old in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1963.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Henry Montgomery is entitled to be considered for parole, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January, but that won’t happen any time soon. Neither will some 300 other Louisiana lifers covered by that decision, because the clock ran out on legislation that would have cleared the way to implement it. A bill was passed by the House,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Lawmakers play word games on medical marijuana

Because marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law, Louisiana legislators adopted a linguistic subterfuge when authorizing its use for medical purposes. Pharmacists will dispense the drug under written instructions from a doctor, but that piece of paper will not be called a prescription. Legislators decided to call it a “recommendation.” Evidently, this word game will ensure that… Continue reading →

Gill: Budget mess endures, but kids will learn cursive

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING<br />Steven Vo, 12, practices his handwriting. Central Intermediate School teachers make time in their classroom days to teach cursive.

Whatever happens to a bill requiring Louisiana schoolchildren to recite part of the Declaration of Independence every day, they soon will be able to read it in manuscript. Right now, many of them cannot, even though they may be jake with 18th-century style and syntax. The problem is that the Founding Fathers were a literate bunch in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Who gets the keys? Standoff looming between Gusman, city over fate of New Orleans jail

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman speaks at a news conference in May 2016.

When the great hoosegow hearing resumes Monday, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman will be ready to argue that he should not have the keys taken away from him. But victory would not be without a pyrrhic element. If federal judge Lance Africk decides to stick with the status quo, Gusman will be left to run a joint… Continue reading →

James Gill: Big Brother paranoia kills license plate reader bill

America wouldn’t be America without a deep distrust of government, and perhaps it is impossible to go too far in defense of privacy. Only under threat of great peril — say, in airport security lines — do we abandon that principle. Otherwise officialdom can keep its nose out of our stuff. If that admirable instinct has… Continue reading →

James Gill: Defender bill an odd way to reform

There was nothing particularly unusual about the case of David Brown. Prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that might have helped him, and he wound up on death row. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider whether to cancel his date with the executioner. That wouldn’t be particularly unusual in an appeal out of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Tax law possible boon to manure industry

Louisiana farmers will get to avoid paying sales taxes on what they feed their critters if they sell what comes out the other end for fertilizer. That is the logical outcome of a recent state Supreme Court decision, according to Jeannette Knoll in a somewhat mischievous dissent. When ranchers get wind of this, the dung market should… Continue reading →

James Gill: Knowing lawmaker’s ‘not for sale,’ residents near disputed plant can breathe easy, or can they?

It will take some time before people living near a hazardous waste disposal plant in Grant Parish will find out whether they will continue to be exposed to what they say are its carcinogenic effects. The plant belongs to a Massachusetts corporation called Clean Harbors, which burns rocket motors, propellants and other military compounds in the open… Continue reading →

James Gill: Accusation of a payoff raises no eyebrows

State Rep. Terry Brown, No Party-Colfax,

There may be places where eyebrows would be raised if a hazardous waste company were accused of offering a sweetener to stymie environmental protection. But we’re pretty blasé about such matters in Louisiana. You probably didn’t even know that state Rep. Terry Brown, I-Colfax, claimed, in the middle of a recent committee hearing, that a company… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gov. John Bel Edwards, getting grief for modest voucher cuts, might as well go for the radical overhaul

If Gov. John Bel Edwards is going to get this much grief for proposing a modest cut in the school-voucher budget, he might as well go for the radical overhaul that is clearly required. Vouchers are yet one more relic of Bobby Jindal’s harebrained and doctrinaire administration, but abolition is not a political possibility. Indeed, they… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gusman farms out inmate problem

Advocate staff photo by JOHN MCCUSKER -- Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman announces organizational changes within the agency at a news conference Monday, May 2, 2016.

It’s the inmates, stupid. Without them, the New Orleans jail would run like clockwork. We are getting close to demonstrating the truth of that proposition, as Sheriff Marlin Gusman ships yet more prisoners to hoosegows in distant parishes. By the end of the week, two-thirds of New Orleans prisoners will have been transferred because Gusman’s… Continue reading →

James Gill: Corrections scandals a Cain family saga

The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections won’t say whether Nate Cain and his wife, Tonia, are getting paid while on enforced leave. Thus, there is no doubt in the public’s mind that the Cains continue to draw their salaries. If they weren’t, the department would shout it from the rooftops and enjoy, for once, the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser's first 100 days not exactly filled with success; more like 'idiocy'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser testifies on SB148 concerning monuments in the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Let’s see if you can fill in the blank in this headline: “Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s first 100 days filled with. ...” You probably think it’s too easy, but, no, the answer is not “idiocy.” Before you guess again, let me explain that I was quoting Nungesser’s own news release,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gun control plans in New Orleans a misfire

To judge from online comments, gun enthusiasts are frothing at the mouth over an ordinance New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu seems likely to get adopted by the New Orleans City Council. It does not take much to reduce Second Amendment zealots to that condition, and, naturally, they are greatly alarmed when Landrieu and council members claim to… Continue reading →

James Gill: Work-release much better than the pen

The old gang gathered round, astonished that he had showed up in the neighborhood. “I busted out,” he said, puffing out his chest. “They can’t keep me caged up.” Boy, this was like being in a James Cagney movie. Everyone was keen to find out how he pulled it off. “I just walked up the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Hard to understand how embattled sheriff Marlin Gusman can constantly look on bright side

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Sheriff Marlin Gusman speaks about the state of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the OPSO Jail at Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Maybe we should call Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman Sheriff Pangloss, for there never was a lawman so determined to look on the bright side. He’s at it again following the resignation of his chief deputy, Jerry Ursin. This might have led some public officials to a period of introspection, but if Gusman suffered any self-doubt, he… Continue reading →

James Gill: ABATE biker group gangs up on logic, safety

As their title makes clear, “American Bikers Active Toward Education” are not out to promote coherent English. They presumably chose the moniker for acronymic purposes, although it is by no means clear what they propose to abate. It cannot be road casualties, for they were out in force last week pushing a bill, sponsored by state Rep.… Continue reading →

James Gill; News flash: bungee-jumping could be dangerous

I have been thinking how much fun it would be to go bungee-jumping from a railroad trestle, but have decided to resist the temptation. Turns out there’s always a chance of getting hit by a train. Who knew? Luckily, an outfit called Operation Lifesaver is here with a railroad-trestle code of safety, and bungee jumping is… Continue reading →

James Gill: A double whitewash at Angola

Exactly what Kenny Norris did to earn his $94,000 a year as an assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, or even where he spent his time, is impossible to know. State Police tried to find out when they were called in by Darrel Vannoy late last year soon after he had been appointed to… Continue reading →

James Gill: For life’s irritations in Louisiana, why not pack a pistol?

As we go about our daily business, we must all at one time or another have dreamed of yanking out the old equalizer and giving people what they are asking for. Perhaps drivers would quit going 40 mph in the outside lane of the interstate, or shoppers would no longer take a week’s worth of groceries into… Continue reading →

James Gill: For ex-Angola warden Burl Cain, it was his buddies assessing his job performance

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Former Angola Warden Burl Cain reads a statement during a press conference in front of the State Capitol Wednesday.

When Burl Cain was warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and dabbling in various outside businesses, he got to know a couple of fat cats with ties to murderers in his custody. Cain lent a helping hand to both inmates and resigned when his actions came to light, but the resulting internal investigation has cleared… Continue reading →

James Gill: Smoking bans all the rage in New Orleans -- and now in Baton Rouge too

If you find yourself in Lafayette with a yen to play some blackjack or roulette, you are out of luck, because there is no casino there. Shoot, there aren’t even any slots closer than the Evangeline Downs racetrack in St. Landry Parish. The Lafayette City-Parish Council thus did not have to fear any great loss of tax… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana mostly a spectator for presidential election, but, oh, what a spectacle it'll be

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton (Associated Press file photos) ORG XMIT: BAT1603231500431267

Louisiana is used to the role of red-headed stepchild in presidential elections, and this year promises to be no different. We have a mere eight electoral college votes, and no pundit believes, as the vernacular has it, that they are up for grabs. We might rate a couple of courtesy visits, but this… Continue reading →

James Gill: New Orleans has welcome mat out for potheads; it's about to be even more accommodating too

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH-- Susan Guidry, Councilwomen District A, hops on a bike as city leaders and community members rally to announce the upcoming NOLA Bike to Work Week- a city wide initiative presented by Entergy, Bike Easy, NiteRider and Bike Law Louisiana in New Orleans, La. on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. The 4th Annual NOLA Bike to Work Day will take place April 13th-17th, 2015 in Louisiana.

If you smoke marijuana, don’t try to understand the law on smoking it in New Orleans. Weed and municipal ordinances don’t mix. You’ll be more confused than ever... Continue reading →

James Gill: Disaster prosecution is, well, a disaster

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a previously published James Gill column appeared in Thursday’s edition instead of his latest column. Here’s the new one: The feds must have felt they had no choice but to file criminal charges after the BP oil spill in the Gulf. It doesn’t seem like such a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Vegan diet could help deter crime

Pamela Anderson, curvaceous star of “Baywatch” back in the day, has re-emerged to urge that Louisiana penitentiaries go vegan, and offers to do some cooking herself. Perhaps she could rustle up some soy milk, margarine, white vinegar and unsweetened cocoa powder, and deliver a vegan cake to Angola. Don’t bake a file into it, Pamela! The screws… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana kids also failing at cheating

More bad news from the public schools of Louisiana. Our kids aren’t even learning how to cheat. Perhaps you thought the idea was that kids should be taught not to cheat. If so, it may be some time since you were in a classroom. The idea that teachers function in loco parentis, and assist the moral development of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Marco Rubio calls Bobby Jindal ‘one of best governors in America’; should we laugh or fear?

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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 →