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Our Views: Louisiana budget debacle is stranger than fiction

Movie fans are apt to wear out their copies of the classic “Casablanca,” but we’ll have a thousand occasions to quote Claude Rains this year on the state budget crisis: Legislators are shocked — Shocked! — to find that there is deficit spending going on here. The parallels from fiction, alas, do not stop there in today’s… Continue reading →

James Gill: Marco Rubio goes for laughs with Bobby Jindal praise

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 →

Letters: Higher cigarette tax means a healthier Louisiana

It is no secret Louisiana flounders in nearly all national health rankings. Obesity and tobacco use represent just two of our major pitfalls and largest strains on the state’s health care system. Yet, in 2015 we managed to make strides with the latter issue. New Orleans enacted an ordinance making all public buildings, including bars and… Continue reading →

Our Views: Ash Wednesday reminds us of our limits

To get a “black mark,” we understand from the common lexicon, isn’t a good thing — except on Ash Wednesday, when many Christians observe the beginning of Lent with a smudge of ash on their foreheads as a reminder of their mortality. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” as the Ash Wednesday admonition… Continue reading →

Letters: In defense of Shaq’s Saban comment

In a recent staff report, Shaquille O’Neal, a Louisiana native and ardent LSU football fan, expressed his desire to have Alabama coach Nick Saban back in Baton Rouge. Although an open declaration of admiration for the man who is the very antipathy of Tiger fans across the state may seem borderline blasphemous, I admit that I stand in… Continue reading →

Letters: An early focus on dyslexia diagnosis, treatment

I am writing in response to the editorial on Friday regarding expanding readers in Louisiana. This issue is important because reading is part of the foundation to reaching one’s full potential in life. We know from Louisiana’s NAEP (nation’s report card) scores in reading in the fourth and eighth grade that too many of our children are reading… Continue reading →

Letters: A lame idea from a lame-duck leader

Merriam-Webster defines “lame duck” as “one that falls behind in ability or achievement.” This came to mind after President Barack Obama’s recent proposal was met with a thud on the doorsteps of Congress. His desire to impose a $10 fee on oil and gas companies for every barrel of oil produced would be laughable if the… Continue reading →

Our Views: Forget New Hampshire; it’s Mardi Gras

While the rest of America has its eyes on the New Hampshire primary, something much more thrilling is happening here in Louisiana. It’s Mardi Gras! Louisiana famously goes its own way in many things. So while everyone else votes on Tuesday and parties on Saturday, we’re partying on Tuesday and we’ll vote… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: From Confederate monuments to police response times, New Orleans gave Carnival krewes plenty to mock this year

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- The Knights of Chaos parade uptown with 225 members including the captain and his lieutenants of horseback along with 16 floats to the theme "Chaos Theory"  in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.  The club members tossed float-specific and lighted throws.

Some news stories practically exist to be lampooned. So as this election-year Carnival season approached, the burning question was whether any target of ridicule could possibly trump Trump. Amazingly enough, the answer was yes. So give it up, ladies and gentlemen, for Gen. Robert E. Lee and his long-dead Confederate compadres, who made the job of… Continue reading →

Letters: End the narrow vision with a new governor

The Advocate series on higher education is certainly timely, and its articles thus far have been somewhat informative and revealing, but the one published on Jan. 25 has elements of a disingenuous, overly limited analysis. Even errant people can do good things, and Bobby Jindal’s keeping TOPS scholarships available to the middle class is certainly… Continue reading →

Letters: No audience until there’s diversity

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015 file photo, Jada Pinkett Smith arrives at the world premiere of "Focus" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Pinkett Smith says the backlash to the all-white acting nominees for the Academy Awards isnt really about the Oscars. Pinkett Smith on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, said she wouldnt attend or watch the Feb. 28 ceremony in a video that helped prompt calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards.  (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

“Creed.” “Straight Outta Compton.” “Concussion.” Where are these movies, movies with racially mixed casts and superb acting? For the second year in a row, the Academy has bungled it again, leaving minorities laughably underrepresented at the Oscars. It’s not like there were limited options for great movies (such as the ones I named above).… Continue reading →

Letters: Columns filled with talking points, not facts

Recently, The Advocate has printed a number of letters identifying fallacies and falsehoods in columns written by Jeff Shadow, a professor and Advocate columnist. As a retired professor myself, who also provided local media with commentary (in Indiana), I am critical of both The Advocate and Professor Sadow. While he certainly has the right to have… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Enjoying presidential free-for-all? It'll soon end, but you'll always have Louisiana

Now that the voting has started, the presidential field is finally starting to winnow itself. Since Monday’s Iowa caucuses, one Democrat and three Republicans have suspended their campaigns, and more could follow after next week’s New Hampshire primary. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s U.S. Senate primary, on the ballot for the same day the nation elects its next president, is… Continue reading →

James Gill: With same old problems persisting, is federal receivership the answer for Orleans Parish prison?

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Sheriff Marlin Gusman checks his watch for the start of press conference before the first Orleans Parish Prison buses transport prisoners to the new $150 million parish prison built in part with FEMA money in New Orleans, La. Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.

An army of public officials and attorneys has been beavering away under court supervision for four years without making any discernible progress. If taxpayers knew how much it is costing them, there’d be riots in the streets of New Orleans. At issue is the consent decree under which Sheriff Marlin Gusman was supposed to alleviate hellish… Continue reading →

Our Views: This political shot was real

If you thought last year’s gubernatorial race between John Bel Edwards and David Vitter was nasty, or if you think the presidential campaign has reached new lows in political animosity, then John Sedgwick is here to offer some perspective. Sedgwick has authored a new book, “War of Two,” that recounts how a couple… Continue reading →

Letters: Like Michigan, Louisiana could also have a water crisis

The water quality disaster in Flint, Michigan, is deplorable. Many Louisiana residents, however, are unaware of the shameful situation in our own backyard in St. Joseph, in Tensas Parish. Tensas is the poorest parish in the state. Nearly 40 percent of the population is below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate is likewise staggering.… Continue reading →

Our Views: Edwards ends Jindal’s courtroom politicking

Win or lose, and former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s favored lawyers lost a lot, it was never good government for the late administration to gin up lawsuits over policy issues. Maybe it was good for news releases, given that Jindal was playing to national political audiences, but it’s not good business for the state,… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Local bailouts lead to state deficits

Regardless of whatever his day job happened to be at any given time, Jay Dardenne always had an entertaining sideline, giving talks to various groups about Louisiana history. So it wasn’t surprising to hear him, now the Edwards administration’s chief budget architect, sprinkle Huey Long in an otherwise depressing lecture about the need to renovate… Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: The kind of signees we need to see more of

This past week’s attention given to high school athletes gave me a great idea for a special occasion I think would be inspirational for teenagers. The media was eager to cover the annual hoopla surrounding high school football players as they signed letters of intent to various colleges around the country. Their signatures, in some corners, are… Continue reading →

Letters: Marathon runner’s disqualification is justified

Mandy West was rightfully disqualified from the Louisiana Marathon. She had no right to break the rules just because she was “trying to qualify for the Olympic trials.” It is similar to a situation of bringing notes into the SAT or ACT. Just because you are trying to get into a good school doesn’t change the… Continue reading →

Letters: Former warden is a hero to ministry group

Burl Cain is my hero! He came to Chicago in October 2003 with a request: “Come talk to the men of Angola State Penitentiary. They have a question for you and for Awana.” So, my wife and I went to Angola. A large inmate stood up in a room filled with other men. He addressed… Continue reading →

Letters: Expansion should occur after fixing oil damages

On January 20, 2015, Taylor Energy Co., the company responsible for a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico held a public meeting to disclose details of the chronic spill. Taylor Energy was required to host this public, day-long hearing as a result of a court settlement with environmental groups. The leak began in 2004, when… Continue reading →

Our Views: Expanding circle of readers key to La.

Perhaps it’s not news when a textbook company comes out in favor of reading, as a major educational publisher recently did in a new campaign called Right2Read. Even so, it was striking to pick up the latest copy of Education Week, a national journal for educators, and see the words “Reading… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Making nice not getting Gov. John Bel Edwards very far ... yet

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had clearly hoped that things would go differently. That the state’s politicians would give one another’s ideas a fair, open-minded hearing. That the Republican-dominated Legislature and Democratic administration — both of which can fairly claim popular support — would cling to Louisiana’s historically nonpartisan ways, rather than fall into a Washington-style war. That somehow,… Continue reading →

Letters: Stronger background checks not the issue in gun control

The cold hard fact is that background checks already work. The problem is not that the guns fall into the wrong hands legally; the problem is guns fall into the wrong hands illegally. To propose that “stronger” background checks would make this fact any different would be misinformed at best, perverse at worst. The… Continue reading →

Letters: Recreational anglers need fair representation

The headline of a Jan. 20 guest column in The Advocate asks “Why shouldn’t recreational anglers have a say in red snapper quotas?” The column’s writer, fishing guide Bryan Carter, makes the case that the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should convene a panel of recreational fishermen to ensure their voice is heard in the contentious and… Continue reading →

Letters: State’s needs matter more than party rivalry

Dr. Jeff Sadow has become a reliably wrong commentator for The Advocate, and his Jan. 17 column on Medicaid expansion is no exception. Leaving aside the benefits of having a healthier workforce with more access to health insurance and care, Sadow ignores three key fiscal impacts: billions of federal dollars coming to Louisiana, millions saved by hospitals from… Continue reading →

Letters: Standardized tests are a diagnostic tool

In recent weeks, parents and guardians across the state have received their children’s score reports, a detailed breakdown of how students performed in math and English language arts on last spring’s exams. As both a parent and middle school teacher, I am keenly aware of the anxiety parents feel about standardized testing and its results. My… Continue reading →

Our Views: New governor, education board need to get along

If you have been triumphantly elected governor of Louisiana with 56 percent of the vote, you can do almost anything, right? Not exactly. You have to have the votes. While many are aware of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ need to find common ground with the Republican-led Legislature, there’s another body where the governor’s word is not… Continue reading →

Barack Obama: A commitment to treatment for opiod addictions

President Barack Obama speaks at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, about the fight against the Islamic State group following a National Security Council meeting. The president said the U.S. military and allied forces are hitting the Islamic State group harder than ever. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last fall, I listened as a mother named Cary Dixon told her family’s story at a forum I convened in West Virginia. It was heartbreaking. Cary’s adult son has struggled with a substance use disorder for years, and she described the pain that families like hers have gone through. “We dread the next phone call,” she… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: Gov. John Bel Edwards pays for the best at Division

At $237,500 a year, Gov. John Bel Edwards got a bargain in Jay Dardenne. The high salaries paid by his predecessor to deserving Republicans were decried in the campaign as “exorbitant” by candidate Edwards. But the salaries it turns out were something of an exorbitant floor, not an exorbitant ceiling. Leaving aside the bad practice of… Continue reading →

Letters: Give Saints honors to someone who deserves it

Columnist Ted Lewis made some good suggestions for the Superdome’s “ring of honor.” But he forgot about Jim Mora, the first coach to bring respectability to our beloved franchise. He should definitely be there. Now comes Lewis’ suggestion that Bobby Hebert should be added to the ring. Maybe if this was Atlanta’s stadium, but not… Continue reading →

Letters: Checking blood lead levels in kids is vital

Pastor David Bullock holds up a bottle of Flint water as Michigan State Police hold a barrier to keep protestors out of the Romney Building, where Gov. Rick Snyder's office resides on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Lansing, Mich. More than 150 people tried to flood into the lobby in protest against Snyder, asking for his resignation and arrest in relation to Flint's water crisis.  (Jake May/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

Each year, nearly a thousand Louisiana children test positive for elevated blood lead levels. There are many ways children can be exposed to lead — especially in Louisiana. There are hundreds of thousands of old homes and buildings across the state that were built before 1950, a time when lead paint was often used. Children may… Continue reading →

Our View: Support TPP, a new path toward trade and jobs

While free trade pacts draw criticism from organized labor, the profound impact of international commerce in Louisiana ought to lead our state’s delegation in Congress to support a major new pact with Pacific Ocean countries. At a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Greater New Orleans Inc., a top U.S. trade official urged support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The wreckage of Jindal’s Iowa campaign is right here at home

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Out-going Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife Supriya acknowledge applause as they are introduced during Governor John Bel Edwards outlines his priorities for the state during the inauguration of Gov. John Bel Edwards Monday on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. At right is Donna Edwards, wife of  Governor John Bel Edwards.

After what feels like a decade or two of pre-election jockeying, Iowa voters finally got to have their say Monday night at the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. And it’s worth pausing a moment to wonder: Did any of them give a passing thought to the fact that former Gov. Bobby Jindal wasn’t among their choices?… Continue reading →

Letters: Pecue Lane interchange would provide little use

I read with interest the front-page article regarding the Interstate 10 interchange at Pecue Lane. While an interchange at this location may be useful, where is the traffic going after exiting the interstate? There is very little south — Perkins Road and Highland Road. How do you get to these streets, and where does the traffic go… Continue reading →

Letters: Overgrown interchange makes entrances, exits look trashy

I often find myself westbound on Interstate 12 at the Airline Highway southbound exit. If you look around as you exit, you see overgrown brush and bush, and a scattering of scraggly trees. The grass (or, more accurately, the weeds) is high; there is no edging work around the trees; debris is littered amongst the grass.… Continue reading →