Our Views: An excuse, or a snack?

Isn’t it unfair to pillory Sheriff Marlin Gusman on the huge public checks he’s written to an old buddy and campaign contributor? The latter is a bug exterminator extraordinaire, billing the Orleans Parish jails for about 43 times the amount spent on bug spray at the jails in Jefferson Parish.

When The Advocate reported on this discrepancy, the sheriff did not make himself clear. Turns out he had a perfectly reasonable explanation: an outbreak of scorpions.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the experts who are not receiving $340,000 in extermination payments over the last two years tell us that scorpions are vanishingly rare in these parts. The sheriff’s statement to The Times-Picayune about the scorpion “infestation” does not quite ring true.

No, we suspect the sting in this situation is felt by a politician lavishing taxpayer dollars on a buddy, spraying with enthusiasm as the scorpions are found and combated. Probably legions of the little buggers.

We wish the sheriff showed the acumen of his predecessor, Charles Foti. That sheriff raised tilapia at the prison, feeding prisoners a tasty and nutritious addition to their usual fare.

Development of a culinary arts program to rehabilitate the inmates and make useful canapés of the scorpions would have shown a little imagination on Gusman’s part. We have, in Louisiana, tried to persuade credulous outsiders to eat nutria and the plug-ugly Asian carp.

If Orleans Parish Prison can become the Whole Foods of scorpion-tastings, instead of spending so much on spraying them into Arachnid Paradise, the taxpayer would get relief and the inmates would learn a useful skill.