By Smiley Anders
OK, so 2012 wasn’t a great year in this part of the world.
It was the year of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac, West Nile virus, dope-smoking athletes, lengthy and muddy election campaigns, two LSU football losses, the Saints’ Bountygate scandal, The Hole That Ate Assumption Parish and a lot more stuff that I’ll look up later, if I don’t forget.
And through it all, Louisiana was led (when he was in the state) by Huey P. Jindal, the Kingpiyush (Motto: “Cross me and you’re toast”).
Our governor wasn’t in the state for several reasons:
First, he launched the Bobby Jindal Noncampaign for Vice President, in which he visited key states to assure the Republican voters there that he was perfectly happy in Louisiana and was not running for vice president.
Then, he visited key states to assure Republican voters that their best choice for president was Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a campaign that fizzled when Rick promised to “cut a bunch of federal programs, as soon as I can remember what they are.” But the most-crushing blow to the Perry presidential campaign was when investigative reporters uncovered evidence that he was an Aggie.
With Perry out of the race, our governor discovered that he had been a Mitt Romney man all along and just hadn’t realized it.
This led to another phase of the Bobby Jindal Noncampaign for Vice President, in which he had to return to key states to assure Republican voters he was happy in Louisiana and didn’t really want to be Romney’s running mate, unless Mitt just insisted.
When Mitt didn’t insist, naming instead Paul Ayn Rand Ron Paul Ryan or somebody from Wisconsin, we then saw the Bobby Jindal Noncampaign for a Cabinet Post, in which he visited key states to assure Republicans he was happy in Louisiana and didn’t really want a cabinet post in the Romney administration, but if Mitt insisted, he might consider something like Secretary of Cutting the Hell Out of Everything.
But a funny thing happened to Mitt on the way to the White House, and once again we heard our governor telling the national press that he was “going to be focused on being governor of this great state.” This latest pronouncement was made just before he flew off to Las Vegas. …
In East Baton Rouge Parish politics, we saw the re-election of Mayor-President Kip Holden by a surprisingly comfortable margin.
This might have been caused by the tactics of the Republican strategists handling the campaign of the mayor’s chief rival, Mike Walker. They managed to turn the affable Mike into Dirty Harry, a hard-nosed crime fighter you expected to see in a campaign commercial pulling out a .44 Magnum and chasing down the bad guys by himself.
They also sought to lump together Kip, President Barack Obama and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
This strategy failed for three reasons:
1. People like the Kipster.
2. President Obama carried East Baton Rouge Parish.
3. Most voters thought Louis Farrakhan was a cornerback for the Saints.
But enough of the election frivolity — on to the serious stuff.
As is my custom, I’ve selected several stories and quotes from actual front pages of The Advocate to give you some idea of the events of 2012, and why the Mayans might not have been so far off about the end of the world:
U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, denounced on Facebook a report of a planned $8 billion “abortionplex,” complete with 2,000 abortion rooms, a three-story nightclub and a 10-screen multiplex theater — before amused Facebook users informed him it was reported in The Onion, a satirical news website.
Fleming pulled his post about the satire, as Facebook users questioned how he got elected.
“We’re not well known. I can’t give you any glowing reports about my chances. I’m definitely an out-of-the-box long shot.”
— Former Gov. Buddy Roemer, on his presidential campaign, which reached its high point when he appeared on both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central (both of which, as U.S. Rep. John Fleming might now know, are satirical news shows).
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a retired surgeon, won re-election to Congress from Acadiana, defeating U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry in an election caused by the elimination of one Louisiana seat in the U.S. House. Landry, a tea party favorite, sought to convince voters that Boustany, one of the most-conservative members of Congress, was the reincarnation of ultraliberal Ted Kennedy.
LSU cancelled plans for a university-licensed beer, to be bottled by Baton Rouge’s Tin Roof Brewing Co.
The demise of “LSU Bandit Blonde Ale” led the Wall Street Journal to do a story on the situation, headlined, “You can’t spell ‘LUSH’ without L-S-U.”
“Frankly, it wasn’t our night.”
— LSU’s Head Football Coach Les Miles, after Alabama walloped LSU 21-0 in the BCS
Championship Game in New Orleans.
e_SDLqThe bureaucracy here prevents leaders from leading.”
— LSU Chancellor Mike Martin, leaving for a similar post at Colorado State, on Louisiana’s problems due to the Legislature controlling college tuition and curricula.
“We have a broken system.”
— Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas, of the Center for Planning Excellence, after an isobutane tanker crash on Interstate 10 resulted in massive, day-long gridlock on Baton Rouge’s surface streets.
“Not guilty! Just like O.J. Simpson!”
— Egyptsiha Jarrow, supporter of Torrence
“Lil Boosie” Hatch, after the Baton Rouge rapper was acquitted of murder-for-hire charges.
To show their opposition to gay marriage, and gay people in general, many Baton Rougeans gathered on Aug. 1 to eat greasy chicken.
The Bowl Gods frowned on the LSU football team, and for the team’s sins (losses to Florida and Alabama) sent the Tigers to the Chicken Sandwich Bowl.
NFL Czar Roger Goodell arrested, tried and convicted the New Orleans Saints for attempted murder, and sentenced them to death, until his legal advisers told him he couldn’t do that. So he settled for wrecking the team for the 2012 season.
Jeff Hughes won a state Supreme Court post by staking out a position on the hard right and advertising his support for the death penalty.
Louisiana’s DOTD (Department of Transportation and Delays) reported that the widening of Interstate 10 between the 10/12 split and Siegen Lane, originally set for a late 2011 completion, may now be completed in late 2012 or early 2013. Or late 2013. Or early 2014. Or … oh, the hell with it. …
U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that he supports eliminating funding for public broadcasting.
In October, former LSU football players Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, Jordan Jefferson, Karnell Hatcher and Derrick Bryant were arrested and charged with “possession of enough pot to supply a Cheech and Chong movie.”
Speculation centered around their punishment, which might involve public service time, speaking to groups of impressionable youths about the dangers of marijuana, ways to avoid the evil weed and how to roll a really tight doobie.
A federal sting, titled “Operation Blighted Officials,” uncovered blight in several parishes. A proposal for officials to grant a make-believe company the right to clean garbage cans (really!) in exchange for bribes led to jail terms for the mayors of New Roads, St. Gabriel, Port Allen and White Castle, plus a city councilman and police chief in Port Allen.
The Republican Party, after its defeat in the presidential election, should cast off “dumbed-down conservatism” — said Bobby Jindal, the governor of a state that allows a biblical view of creation to be taught in science classes.
Shaw Environmental scientist Cary Hecox, explaining why the Texas Brine Co. salt cavern created a sinkhole threatening to swallow Assumption Parish, said the cavern failed because of a “frack out” — leaving parish residents “fracked up.”
“He would have been a lot clearer if he had said less.”
— Steve Monaghan, president of the
Louisiana Federation of Teachers, about Gov. Jindal’s 30-minute speech unveiling his plan for financing public education.
After Gov. Jindal’s 45-minute speech to the New York Republican State Committee, New York State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos drew applause when, following Jindal, he promised to keep his remarks short.
“I have not talked to him about it, but I would hope he would be as supportive of his friends in victory as his friends in defeat.”
— Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, “surprised” to learn that Gov. Jindal hosted a fundraiser seeking up to $5,000 per contributor to help Dardenne’s opponent, fellow Republican Billy Nungesser, pay off his campaign debt.
“From a policy and protocol standpoint, it would be nice to know in case I need to be called into service.”
— Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, on not being notified when Gov. Jindal went on trips to New Jersey, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Illinois, West Virginia, South Dakota, Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington state and Washington, D.C.
Metro Councilman Smokie Bourgeois, a restaurant owner, lost a bid to further restrict locations on Baton Rouge’s popular food trucks. He also lost a bid for re-election.
LSU System President John Lombardi was fired amid accusations Gov. Jindal was behind the move.
This led LSU Board of Supervisors member Tony Falterman to complain: “We look like the Legislature right now. … ‘ Hey, if I don’t do this, I won’t get reappointed.’”
The Capital Area Transit System’s tax passed with 54 percent of the vote in Baton Rouge and 58 percent in Baker. But in Zachary, the CATS tax failed, with 79 percent of the voters opposed.
“If the intent is to bully me, that’s OK, I can take it. But don’t take it out on the people of
— Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, on Gov. Jindal’s veto of $2 million in tourism marketing funds.
In a rare bit of 2012 good news, Johnny Jones, a former LSU basketball player and assistant coach, was named head coach of the LSU men’s basketball team. With Johnny and women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell, LSU can boast the best-looking coaching duo in the SEC, no matter how many games they win or lose.
“That was the governor’s bill. It’s just in my name.”
— State Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, after criticism over an effort to take funds for boll weevil eradication and other funds and move them to the state operating budget.
State Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, lost his post as vice chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environmental Committee after his votes on the budget and other issues displeased the governor.
A new constitutional amendment, passed handily, makes it easier to have guns in schools and churches and on college campuses. Observers said the college campus provision was likely to make Saturday nights at the Tigerland bars MUCH more interesting.
Martha Manuel, executive director of the
Office of Elderly Affairs, was fired one day after she publicly criticized moving the office to the Department of Health and Hospitals.
“It’s not reform — it is illusionary.”
— U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, on Gov. Jindal’s plan to allow low-income students to attend
private schools with vouchers.
“The fairy godmother’s died, and she’s not coming back this time.”
— State Treasurer John Kennedy, on the Jindal administration’s inability to deal with an $859
million Medicaid funding shortfall caused by
Congress changing the rate the federal
government pays the state.
After State Treasurer John Kennedy criticized the governor for his “patchwork” approach to budgeting, Gov. Jindal took $511,279 from
Kennedy’s office, to “streamline” it.
Stony Brook, a Long Island, N.Y., college, beat LSU in a baseball super regional to win a trip to the College World Series.
“This is my last hurricane to try and ride it out. I’m getting too old for this.”
— James Earl Booth Sr., 87, after being rescued from his flooded LaPlace home in Hurricane Isaac by the Louisiana Army National Guard on a second try, after he declined the first rescue offer.
Dr. Fred Cerise, head of LSU’s statewide network of public hospitals and clinics, was removed from his job as the system faced more than $300 million in cuts by the administration.
The LSU Athletic Department gave the university $5.5 million to balance its budget — and to give its football players a university they can be proud of.
“It seems a little odd that bars couldn’t open on Sundays.”
— Arian Burr, patron at the Bulldog Bar, about the Metro Council relaxing Baton Rouge blue laws to allow bars to open on Sunday.
Despite warnings from church leaders, to date only two Sunday drinkers have been struck by lightning, and only one has been turned into a pillar of salt (which was OK with his drinking buddies, since they were having margaritas anyhow).
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