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James Gill: Feldman draws critics across political spectrum

Notwithstanding its well-established reputation as a gay mecca, New Orleans is home to the federal judge who upheld a requirement that marriage involves a man and a woman. Judge Martin Feldman’s counterparts have practically fallen over one another to approve unisex marriage in other states, and five federal appeals courts have agreed that… Continue reading →

James Gill: Cassidy learns perils of honesty

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2014, file photo, Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., speaks at a campaign stop at VFW Post 5951in Bossier City, La. An old political stand-by _ the future of Medicare _ is emerging as the go-to attack in Louisianas bitter Senate race as the candidates woo seniors who typically wield strong influence in midterm elections. The $700 billion that Obamacare cut from Medicare spends it on other programs, Cassidy said, referring to the law shifting some health care spending to premium subsidies for working-age policy holders. The $700 billion in the Ryan budget puts it back into the trust fund.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Sen. Mary Landrieu is wheeling out the geezers in her quest for re-election, while her would-be replacement, Congressman Bill Cassidy, harps on her record of voting with President Barack Obama 97 percent of the time. When it comes to bogus issues, the parties are running neck and neck. Landrieu hopes the oldsters will turn out in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Don’t fall for it ... Bobby Jindal’s ‘magic touch’ with Louisiana budget is imaginary

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions after signing SB667 concerning legacy law suits into law on the last day of legislative session.

We knew that Gov. Bobby Jindal was a modern Midas, because no sooner had he taken up ethics than we had the “gold standard.” The magic touch has not deserted him. Just when a budget deficit loomed, he turned over a cushion in some dark corner of the Capitol, and found a wad of cash. Thus,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Free ride, in more ways than one

District Judge J. Robin Free, of Port Allen, was re-elected without opposition a few months ago, but perhaps he wouldn’t have had a free ride if his habitual disregard for the code of ethics had been public knowledge. Free is a great fan of the free ride, which is one of the reasons he now faces suspension.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Voters to decide on geriatric judges

Voters have the chance next month to end mandatory retirement for judges, and there are many reasons to do so. Any senior judge will be happy to list them for you, or, at least, the ones he can remember. Just kidding, your honors. Nobody could seriously suggest our judges turn… Continue reading →

James Gill: Industry has a stake in restoration

Oyster reefs. You gotta love ’em. In fact, they are so widely prized that conservationists, big oil and the state are working in unison to build a bunch along the Louisiana coast. The American Wetlands Foundation in its latest TV advertisement trumpets the project as an example of the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bullets and biscuits: a Port Allen lunch story

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Exterior of the restaurant at Bergeron's Boudin and Cajun Meats in Port Allen. The restaurant has been getting some national media attention over owner Kevin Cox's 10 percent discount to any gun-toting customer that eats at his establishment.

Here is the news. Dateline, Port Allen. The Future. What police are calling “a regrettable but unavoidable mishap” occurred in a restaurant here yesterday. A woman customer at a table in the center of the room, reaching for the hot sauce to sprinkle on her jambalaya, knocked her purse off the table. When it landed… Continue reading →

James Gill: Lapeyre’s audacity knows no bounds

There comes a point where a chronic betrayal of the public trust begins to earn grudging admiration. Jay Lapeyre has received and richly deserved the scornful attention of just about every newspaper scribe in Louisiana, but that hardly makes him special. He has refused to take the honorable course and resign his official… Continue reading →

James Gill: The Greenstein problem for Jindal

What does he know, and is he gonna squeal on anyone? Those questions will be all the more pointed when an indictment is handed up against a public official. In the case of Bruce Greenstein, who allegedly perjured himself nine times during and after a relatively brief stint as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Health Department secretary, we have… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edwards nothing if not resilient

In a field of 13 candidates for Congress, only one has “articulated measures relevant” to Louisiana’s sixth district. So says Len Bahr, whose views carry some weight. A former LSU professor, and coastal science adviser to five governors, Bahr is nowadays a dedicated blogger and fan of the Flood Protection Authority lawsuit seeking redress from the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edmonson amendment dead on arrival

The Edmonson amendment was friendless in the end and DOA in court. Judge Janice Clark was merely required to list the multiple constitutional failures that proved fatal. Legal questions are seldom as easy to resolve as this. Those responsible for the scheme to give State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson… Continue reading →

James Gill: A business plan for Fair Grounds

It had been a splendid dinner, and I was in expansive mood as my manservant drove me home. “After you’ve put the car in the garage, bring me a glass of that 1915 Armagnac, Joe,” I said. “I’ll be on the bench at the end of the pergola.” The views of the… Continue reading →

James Gill: Party endorsement makes good comedy

The Democratic State Central Committee is not a larky kind of outfit, so its latest news release couldn’t have been a hoax. It sure read like one, though. The committee had “voted overwhelming” to endorse Edwin Edwards for Congress. As if endorsing an ex-con weren’t enough of a joke, we read that Edwards completes “a slate of… Continue reading →

James Gill: Landrieu campaign’s big whopper

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s flacks could have crowed and told the truth at the same time, but that proved too much of a strain. While lies are only to be expected in their line of work, the real pros will try not to be too transparent. You could see through the Landrieu… Continue reading →

James Gill: Jindal’s armchair foreign policy

Wading into foreign policy over the past few weeks, Gov. Bobby Jindal has scarcely put a foot wrong. That bespeaks caution rather than expertise, but only an ambitious governor would strive to demonstrate a grasp of the world beyond the state line in the first place. When Jindal starts holding forth on Syria, Crimea and Russia, it… Continue reading →

James Gill: Man with dark past hid in plain sight

Scott Rogers

Scott Rogers, supposedly terrified that his past would catch up with him, sure chose an odd line of work in Baton Rouge. He hoped to lie low while hosting a TV show. Ratings would have to be really dismal for that to work. In his former life, Rogers was Richard Scott-Rogers of Bury St. Edmunds in… Continue reading →

James Gill: Candidates not following Connick model

Times have changed since prosecutors in New Orleans seemed to regard the “adversarial” nature of the justice system as an invitation to win at all costs. Perhaps the new mindset is the legacy of the former, longtime District Attorney Harry Connick, whose assistants were so unconcerned with defendants’ constitutional rights, even in capital cases, that it ceased… Continue reading →

James Gill: A frequent flier hits some turbulence

As staffers review her travel records, Mary Landrieu might hope they will discover that her campaign paid for a trip she took on U.S. Senate business. Republicans, in the buildup to Election Day, are hammering Landrieu for saddling taxpayers with her airfare to fundraisers. The Landrieu campaign, which assures us that her woes… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bill was colossal waste of time

The phone call came from a humble constituent, but the response must have left professional lobbyists green with envy. It is, after all, not often that they can get a bill through the Legislature with barely a peep, even if it fills a legitimate need. This one could only cause disruption. The caller… Continue reading →

James Gill: Cats versus bears: a quick comparison

There are moves afoot to stop killing stray cats and to start killing black bears. The head of one campaign is called Slaughter, but it is not the one that favors potting Louisiana’s official state mammal. These are confusing times. Christel Slaughter is president of the Companion Animal Alliance, which… Continue reading →

James Gill: Perricone’s defense sounds like nonsense

Sal Perricone says he had a constitutional right to post all those wacky tirades online and should not, therefore, be banned from practicing in the federal courts around Baton Rouge. He is out for good in the New Orleans district, having “resigned in lieu of discipline” for appending pseudonymous comments to reports on federal cases on… Continue reading →

James Gill: Edmonson’s gift for old-style politics

In State Police Chief Mike Edmonson’s vision of the future, he was enjoying a lavish pension in addition to his salary as Louisiana lieutenant governor. And, boy, did he deserve it. Edmonson was so eaten up by honor and integrity that he could talk about it for hours. Although he was “flattered” to be regarded as a… Continue reading →

James Gill: 'Plaintiff' a dirty word for LABI

It might be a slight exaggeration to suggest the mission of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is to maximize profits for its Champagne-swilling members and grind the faces of the poor. But when LABI turns its attention to the civil courts, the focus is not on ensuring adequate recompense for the aggrieved. “Plaintiff” is a… Continue reading →

James Gill: Vitter’s dithering on Common Core

David Vitter is evidently out to convince voters that he would be a different kind of governor, and it must be admitted that he is making progress. Take Common Core, for instance. Gov. Bobby Jindal was for it before he was against it, and Vitter, who used to be against it, has… Continue reading →

James Gill: Curious case of least curious lawyers

Lawyers who lack curiosity are generally in the wrong line of work, but they were out in force at New Orleans Criminal Court last week. When City Councilman Jason Williams took the stand as a witness, prosecutors politely declined to grill him about the content of several text messages he exchanged with murder suspect Keith Kisack.… Continue reading →

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… 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… 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… Continue reading →

James Gill: As hogs run wild, Lee sorely missed

File 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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.… 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… 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… Continue reading →