Stephanie Grace: Bills aim to short-circuit judicial system

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Critics of the lawsuits seeking restitution for the oil and gas industry’s damage to the state’s coast — particularly the suit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against 97 companies — have focused largely on the message the litigation sends to the state’s most important industry. Gov. Bobby Jindal, apparently … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Hypocrisy on McAllister predictable

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister earned himself a prominent spot in the annals of Louisiana scoundrels last week, but before that, he was just a rookie trying to figure out the ways of high-level politics. And while he clearly relished all the attention that came with his unlikely victory over the GOP establishment — not to … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: McAllister seems more expendable than Vitter

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

The last time I spoke with Vance McAllister, he was still marveling over how long his honeymoon had lasted. It was late February, and the brand-new congressman, the blunt-spoken, self-made, “Duck Dynasty”-approved Mr. Smith who’d never been to Washington before winning November’s special election, the self-described redneck and family values Christian, the GOP rebel … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Jindal, Edwards both oppose Common Core

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Little noticed in all the hoopla over last week’s House Education Committee votes to effectively keep the controversial Common Core standards in Louisiana schools was a fascinating tidbit: Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and the only Democrat who’s declared his intent to run for the office next time around, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, were on the same … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Looking to post-Jindal era

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

About a year ago, during a casual but far-reaching conversation about Louisiana politics, state Senate President John Alario said something that’s stuck with me ever since. No matter who winds up running to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2015, Alario predicted, the conversation during the next campaign will be dominated by the current governor’s Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: For Common Core debate, Jindal focused elsewhere

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Inside the committee room and out in the hallway, Wednesday’s hearing over two legislative proposals to water down Louisiana’s commitment to the Common Core education standards felt straight out of 2012, when lawmakers adopted Gov. Bobby Jindal’s all-encompassing plan to reshape public education. There was the throng of interested spectators trying to get in, so many … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Ex-govs agree on worth of lawsuit

Photo by Harold Baquet, Loyola University Office of Public Affairs -- From left, moderator Lee Zurik with former Govs. Buddy Roemer, Kathleen Blanco and Edwin Edwards at the Institute of Politics Ed Renwick Lecture at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Proponents of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies say that, in private, they’re not only getting a fair hearing from many politicians but sense some support for their effort to force the powerful industry to help remediate coastal damage. Ask them to name names, though, and … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Ex-governors mix it up on La. issues

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Not long into Wednesday night’s panel discussion at Loyola University with Kathleen Blanco, Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer, it became clear that the event’s title, “One Louisiana, Three Perspectives,” didn’t quite describe it. Sure, each of the former governors has a distinct take on governing. Each led the state through interesting times, to put it … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Landrieu’s influence only goes so far

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

“You go to war with the Army you have, “ former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously said. “They’re not the Army you might want to wish to have a later time.” The same, one might argue, can be said about politics and governance. Which brings us to last week’s runoff elections in New Orleans and … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Dardenne protecting slogan, ambitions

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Let’s get this much straight. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is not a member of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Although both are Republicans, they did not run as a ticket, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that they coordinate their politics; in fact, all evidence points to the contrary. And just like every lieutenant governor before him and … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: No honeymoon for sheriff winner

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

The voters have yet to speak, but this much we already know about the winner of Saturday’s runoff election for Orleans Parish sheriff: He won’t get a honeymoon. A victory by either incumbent Marlin Gusman or his predecessor-turned-rival Charles Foti won’t usher in an era of optimism over the future of the troubled Orleans Parish Prison, … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Congress has a kumbaya moment

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Tuesday’s U.S. House debate over a measure to stem crippling premium increases for federal flood insurance customers was kind of amazing to watch, what with all the Democrats thanking Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor and others who took part in the negotiations, including Louisiana Reps. Bill Cassidy and Steve Scalise, and Republicans lauding Democrats such as California Rep. … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Caldwell gets a challenge from the right

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s appearance at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s annual Washington Mardi Gras party late last month caused a bit of a stir, and not just because Caldwell treated the crowd to a mean Elvis impersonation. There also was the underlying fact that the Republican AG was seen fraternizing with the state’s leading Democrat. Never … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The Mardi Gras trifecta of mockery

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

There are all sorts of ways to calibrate the trajectory of a public figure’s image. You can follow the polls or scour news reports. In New Orleans we’ve got yet another metric: the portrayals of pols and other bigwigs come Carnival time, particularly by the krewes that trade in topical satire. Consider Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Americans for whose Prosperity?

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

You may not have heard of Americans for Prosperity, but if you watch television, you probably know its work. The interest group, closely aligned with the Tea Party, backed by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers and free from the pesky limits that restrict donations to individual candidates in order to prevent any one faction from amassing … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: McAllister learning the ropes in Congress

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Most members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation eagerly anticipate the annual Washington Mardi Gras celebration, which is always chaired by one of the state’s members. But newcomer Vance McAllister’s initial take on the lavish celebration was — well, I’ll let him tell it. “Holy crap!” McAllister declared when he took the mic at Friday’s economic development luncheon, … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Mardi Gras heads to Washington

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

As he took the floor at Friday’s Jefferson Chamber cocktail party, one of many such gatherings during the annual Washington Mardi Gras festivities, Jefferson Parish President John Young thanked the members of Congress in the group’s midst for tackling the devastating side effects of the Biggert-Waters flood insurance bill in a bipartisan … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Nagin trial prompts lots of questions

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

So many questions hang over former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s trial. There’s the long-running question over the mayor’s strategy: Given the documents at prosecutors’ disposal and the array of witnesses who have confessed to bribing Nagin, why didn’t he plead guilty rather than risk the severe sentence a trial conviction would bring? There are … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: New Orleans races stress familiar faces

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

If this year’s New Orleans municipal campaign season were a movie, it could be “Back to the Future.” If it were a golden oldie, the best fit would be “Seems Like Old Times.” Crankier voters might liken the election to a classic comedy bit from “Saturday Night Live,” a horror movie spoof featuring John Belushi as the houseguest … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Katrina raised stakes on Nagin legacy

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former Mayor Ray Nagin enters the U.S. Courthouse in New Orleans during a previous court appearance.

In some ways, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s fall from grace is a typical tale. Politicians succumb to easy, ever-present temptation all the time and all over the place, just as Nagin is accused of doing in the 21-count federal indictment that sets the stage for this week’s trial. The proximity to great … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Vitter’s political instincts canny

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

By now, nearly seven years after the ugly revelation of a “serious sin” that would have sent most politicians into an early retirement, Sen. David Vitter’s past and continued presence on the scene feels kind of like politics as usual. For a reminder that it’s no such thing, just think back to the tenuous days … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Election is a story of two “tracks”

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

People who take polls for a living have developed a shorthand description of what they often consider the most reliable predictor of how an election will turn out. They call it the right direction/wrong track ratio. The idea is simple: To determine whether voters are inclined to stay the course or throw the bums out, look at … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Election underscores scarce resources

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Back when he was fresh off his resounding 2010 victory, New Orleans Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu announced a series of topically organized transition teams, stocked with community leaders, to help set the agenda for his administration. It was before one of those announcements that my colleagues in the press and I noticed something we’d never seen before. … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Seeking Medicaid detour around Jindal

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

If there’s one constant in Louisiana politics these days, it’s Gov. Bobby Jindal’s stubborn refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion authorized by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Never mind that the cost of the new coverage would be fully covered by the feds for three years and 90 percent financed thereafter. … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Prospects for a “Nagin coalition”

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

It’s hard to find anyone in New Orleans politics these days with a kind word to say about former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s tenure. Opinions are likely to harden more later in the month, when Nagin’s federal bribery trial will force the city to revisit that singularly depressing chapter in civic life. But … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Obama nod probably a wash for Landrieu

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

What to make of President Barack Obama’s endorsement of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for re-election? It depends. What’s your angle? No politician is more of a human Rorschach test than the president, and his unexpected endorsement of Mayor Mitch Landrieu this week provided yet another opportunity for pretty much everyone to see his actions … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Reducing candidates to cartoon characters

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

I’m trying to understand how the instantly infamous riff over Mitt Romney’s family photo on MSNBC host and Tulane University professor Melissa Harris-Perry’s show spiraled so far out of control, why the host and her panelists took one look at the former GOP presidential nominee’s newly adopted African-American grandson, perched on his smiling grandpa’s lap, and couldn’t help … Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Political predictions for 2014

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Stephanie Grace

Making predictions is a tricky proposition; I once publicly forecast a slow news year — and indeed, 2005 was pretty uneventful until a little storm called Hurricane Katrina came along. But it’s a new year in Louisiana politics, so here goes. It doesn’t take much insight at all … Continue reading →