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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 →

James Gill: For whom the whistle blows, like it or not

It’s the same old story. You try to do someone a favor, but there’s not a word of thanks. Rerouting freight trains from Old Metairie to Hollygrove is an idea that has been kicking around for years, but the feds cannot put off a decision much longer. Jefferson Parish President John Young says… Continue reading →

James Gill: Why Bobby Jindal is struggling to stand out, is going nowhere with his campaign

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

With Iowa knee-deep in ideologically indistinguishable GOP presidential candidates, standing out from the crowd requires an ability to beat the rest to the punch. Gov. Bobby Jindal has lately been the one with the fast hands. They can all abhor gay marriage, but he’s the one who came out immediately with an executive order to counter the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Why not replace Robert E. Lee statue with statue of Homer Plessy?

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Keith M. Plessy, left, of the Plessy & Ferguson Foundation and a descendant of Homer Plessy who was arrested on a Louisiana railroad car after he sat in a whites-only car because of racial segregation laws in 1892 that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, sits next to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Phoebe Ferguson, right, with the Plessy & Ferguson Foundation and descendant of John Howard Ferguson, as they listen to Doratha 'Dodie' Smith-Simmons, bottom right, as she retells her story of trying to test a newly enacted federal law preventing racial segregation at bus terminals in 1961 in McComb, Mississippi. The panel discussion at Gallier Hall in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, July 2, 2014 was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It might seem impossible right now to find common ground between black activists and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, but fortunately I have come up with a plan. All we have to do is remove Robert E. Lee and replace him with Homer Plessy. That way we would have a black hero on top of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana judge Jeff Hughes' same-sex marriage comments show he's 'clearly too dim for this job'

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- State Supreme Court Judge Jeff Hughes, attends the election-night party of 22nd Judicial District Attorney candidate Brian Trainor, on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, at the Castine Center at Pelican Park in Mandeville.

State Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes has never made any secret of his views on issues about which he is ethically obliged to keep his trap shut. He made his views on judicial impartiality plain when he won promotion from the court of appeal in 2012 after campaigning as a gun-toting, anti-abortion believer… Continue reading →

James Gill: Successful lawsuit by the Louisiana Chemical Association against tax increases could derail state budget

The blame will all belong to reckless politicians if the money runs out, but regular Joes must pay the price. Newspapers will be grim reading; the wires will hum daily with eyewitness accounts of privation and despair. Well, maybe the Greeks are worse off. But harrowing times could lie ahead for Louisiana, too. If the Louisiana Chemical… Continue reading →

James Gill: Where’s Yankee know-how on executions?

Whatever happened to good old American know-how? Sure, we are the only advanced society with the death penalty, but we must ask ourselves whether we are proving worthy of the distinction. We sentence ’em to death all right, but we are seldom up to the task of killing them. In fact, the process has gotten… Continue reading →

James Gill: Governor Bobby Jindal delighted to use gay marriage ruling to hornswoggle voters

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Celebrants daubed in rainbow colors could have been no more delighted than Gov. Bobby Jindal by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gay people have a constitutional right to marry. While gay activists rejoice that the fight is over, Jindal must regard it as a godsend, too, for he still has skin in the game. He is… Continue reading →

James Gill: Removing flags? Why not focus on the guns?

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- With the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee behind them, Malcolm Suber, left,  and Rev. Raymond Brown along with other protesters burn the Confederate battle flag at Lee Circle during a rally to remove the symbol, along with statues like the one of General Robert E. Lee at Lee circle, from public places in New Orleans, La. Friday, June 26, 2015.

The threat posed by armed lunatics draped in Confederate flags is one that will spur any prudent society to action. Fortunately, this country has risen to the challenge as a consensus builds about what should be done. The answer is obvious. Get rid of the flags that fly over statehouses in several parts of the old South,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as King John? Not quite

The legislative session ended just three days before the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, but the spirit of Runnymede failed to invade Baton Rouge. While the barons stuck it to King John, legislators, though a rebellious spirit was not entirely absent from the Capitol, did not in the end challenge Gov. Bobby Jindal’s right to lay down… Continue reading →

James Gill: Healthy lifestyle a blow to Harrah’s, New Orleans

Harrah’s profits at its New Orleans casino are way down, and, while you will probably receive this news without shedding a tear, the implications for the public treasury could be dire. The demands on that treasury are already crippling, and a reduction in the city’s share of the casino loot is bound to be reflected in the… Continue reading →

James Gill: D.C. taking pointers from Legislature? Think again

Ray Garofalo

A federal constitutional convention could get out of hand, with delegates going way beyond their instructions, opponents of the latest move to call one point out. That warning may have helped legislators last week decide that Louisiana would not join the campaign to make Washington mend its profligate ways. A Senate committee refused to adopt a… Continue reading →

James Gill: The yanks rescue soccer

Not so long ago, many Americans had probably never heard of Qatar, but New Orleans had a connection. Drive along the Pontchartrain Expressway, and you can’t miss Xavier University’s Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion, which was donated after Katrina. So you probably looked it up and don’t need me to tell you that Qatar could afford to be generous,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Possible Louisiana gubernatorial runoff between black man, Jew would be nightmare for bigots

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Tony Clayton

It is almost too delicious to contemplate. Louisiana could have a gubernatorial runoff between a black man and a Jew. Louisiana’s plentiful supply of bigots wouldn’t know which way to turn. Polling stations in the tonier sections of New Orleans would be virtually deserted. For the rest of us, though, it would be most diverting election ever.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bobby Jindal-bashing has got to stop (a sarcastic take, of course)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Time has come to stop the constant Jindal-bashing on the editorial pages. Readers must be growing weary of all the attacks on our esteemed governor’s record, and the pooh-poohing of his presidential prospects. There is a long way to go yet, and we can’t keep sounding the same note. And we can’t just ignore Jindal,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Why U.S. Sen. David Vitter's colleagues dislike him 'more than ever'

Senator David Vitter (The Advocate)

His fellow U.S. senators dislike David Vitter more than ever as he continues to denounce them for giving themselves benefits denied to regular citizens. Vitter evidently doesn’t mind being unpopular on Capitol Hill, as, indeed, he was in the corridors of the State Capitol at the start of his political career. He presumably… Continue reading →

James Gill: Do lawmakers believe what they say? Not likely

Sometimes, it would be a slur on the mental powers of state legislators to suggest they believe what they say. Take, for instance, reports that legislators are “confident” all those tax hikes they approved last week were legal. Perhaps, deep in the bowels of the Capitol, lurks the odd tribune from the sticks… Continue reading →

James Gill: Remember, Irvin Mayfield's goofy appointment as New Orleans public library chair traces back to crooked, inept Ray Nagin

Irvin Mayfield

It is not always the corrupt politicians who do the most harm. The stupid ones can be a bigger menace. One way to test this proposition might be to compare the legacies, say, of two mayors: one crooked and one inept. But such comparisons are not totally reliable, for each era brings different challenges and… Continue reading →

James Gill: Assault on liberty? Well, maybe not

It made the blood boil to read about “a deliberate and willful attack on state workers,” a plot to “trample on” their constitutional rights. Such tyranny should not be inflicted on any citizen of these United States, but the press release denouncing this outrage explains that the victims here are practically saints. What’s the price of… Continue reading →

James Gill: British campaigns not pretty, but over quickly

This is election day in Britain, which boasts the “mother of parliaments” but now seems poised to produce the mother of all political imbroglios. Americans, weary of electioneering that never seems to stop, will sometimes sing the praises of the British system, with a campaign season lasting only a few weeks and strict… Continue reading →

James Gill: Sentencing publicity an exercise in theater

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced in a press release that Hollywood producer Peter Hoffman, his wife Susan and Michael Arata, of New Orleans, respectively face 405, 45 and 185 years in prison. The newspapers know this is utter nonsense but report it anyway. That’s the game we play at the end of high-profile trials. The standard caveat… Continue reading →

James Gill: Now, some equal time for the Creation story

Gov. Bobby Jindal opposed the annual attempt to repeal the creationism law because, his flack said, it is designed to “promote the discussion of different views.” There wasn’t much discussion Wednesday before a Senate committee decided to let the law stand, but the margin was only one vote. It’s never been anywhere near that close before, and… Continue reading →

James Gill: Street-naming tussles have long history

The recent, ill-advised decision to rename parts of two New Orleans streets puts Jack Maguire in mind of a similar idea rejected 20 years ago. Then-City Councilman Joe Giarrusso wanted to change Poydras Street to Victor H. Schiro Avenue in honor of the 1960s mayor. But Schiro’s widow, Sunny, and Maguire, his director of public relations at… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gay rights ‘protection’ bill contains some tortured logic

Gay people, you have a new champion in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Meet Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, who has filed a bill that he says will protect you if, one day, “an overzealous, uber-conservative governor” should want to punish you for approving of same-sex marriage. “Wait,” you are saying. “I’ve heard of this Johnson.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Latest sad turn in LEH controversy

Michael Sartisky

The allegation that Michael Sartisky is an art thief cannot be allowed to stand. That it is a lie is apparent from the very lawsuit the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities filed against him. The LEH not only accuses Sartisky of running off with its pictures but depicts him as a malingerer — another demonstrable falsehood.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gray might have perfect mind for politics

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  New Orleans City Council District E Councilman James Gray.

James Gray is obviously correct to pooh-pooh any suggestion that the suspension of his law license renders him unfit to remain on the New Orleans City Council. Gray can’t practice law for the next two years because the state Supreme Court established that he told lies, failed to honor his commitments and glommed onto other people’s… Continue reading →