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Our Views: Memorial Day: Remembering our American warriors

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Volunteers, including Greg Vice, left, make good time putting the flags on display in an orderly fashion for the Memorial Day weekend festivities. Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana Chapter 1 sponsored planting the 11,000 American flags at the State Capitol.

The writer William Zinsser left many good things behind when he died earlier this month at age 92, and one of them is a clearer understanding of the sacrifices we honor with today’s observance of Memorial Day. Zinsser is best known for a small book, “On Writing Well,” that’s sold millions of… Continue reading →

Letter: Quality Blue yields results

Years ago, health insurance companies and physicians had conflicting priorities. Some say the quality of patient care suffered. The issue, of course, was money. Today, a new model is emerging. Insurers are beginning to invest in patient-care partnerships with doctors, and the early results are staggeringly positive. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has… Continue reading →

Letter: Harmful proposed trade agreement needs to be stopped

The Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement is a bill that threatens the livelihood of some of the most hardworking people in New Orleans. The president says this is the most socially just trade bill ever. But New Orleans knows better. Under similar circumstances, we watched as Congress rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade… Continue reading →

James Gill: Bobby Jindal-bashing has got to stop (a sarcastic take, of course)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City on Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Time has come to stop the constant Jindal-bashing on the editorial pages. Readers must be growing weary of all the attacks on our esteemed governor’s record, and the pooh-poohing of his presidential prospects. There is a long way to go yet, and we can’t keep sounding the same note. And we can’t just ignore Jindal,… Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Jindal is right on religious rights — and also astute

Gov. Bobby Jindal may be a long shot for president, but his new campaign commercial is a supremely savvy political move. It also has the virtue of expressing a vitally important truth. The ad continues Jindal’s resolute focus on issues of religious liberty. It’s the right message — and if it’s still possible for him… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Jindal trying to squeeze in the clown car

My first professional brush with presidential politics came in the year of the seven dwarfs. It was 1987. I was a new college grad who’d landed at CBS News’ election unit just as the 1988 primaries were gearing up. And then, as now, the impending end of a two-term presidency had set up a… Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A student who started college at 14

Advocate photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Polite Stewart Jr., left, physics major and Southern University's youngest 2012 graduate, is congratulated by Ella Kelley, middle, and Southern University Chancellor James Llorens during the fall commencement ceremony Friday.

Polite Stewart Jr. and I had a big laugh the other day after I said to him, “So I take it from what you’re saying, you’ve been goofing off for the past three years. You need to focus on what you want to do in life.” I met Stewart about seven years ago when his dad… Continue reading →

Letter: Tax bill aims to protect developers unfairly

When properties are taken off the tax rolls or when their valuations are reduced, the rest of the taxpayers pay more. This is because property tax calculations are simple math: the gross, citywide valuation multiplied by the millage rate. Thus, fewer properties or less property value to tax equals higher taxes for those who pay. Rep. Chuck Kleckley,… Continue reading →

Letters: Legislature helps colleges

It is hard to imagine a more critical time in Louisiana’s history, with so much hanging in the balance. This week, with the passage of House Bill 1, the House of Representatives showed all of Louisiana what real leadership looks like. Speaker Chuck Kleckley and chairmen Jim Fannin and Joel Robideaux navigated a solution that was… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 'marriage and conscience' executive order makes him look mean-spirited — and weak

The verdict on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “marriage and conscience” executive order is in, and it’s a two-parter. Legally speaking, the order — which Jindal issued hours after a state legislative committee had shelved a controversial bill aimed at protecting businesses that refuse to serve same-sex couples — does very little. In terms of… Continue reading →

Letter: Louisiana’s higher education funding is not good enough

Recently, The Advocate lamented the fact that taxpayer spending on Louisiana higher education was being stabilized, not increased. But that mistakes sky-is-falling rhetoric for wise public policy. If funded around last year’s level, that would put the state compared to its peers (plus the District of Columbia) all the way down to 28th… Continue reading →

Letter: Louisiana deserves its “F” for its judicial accountability

At a hearing to consider three basic judicial reform bills aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in our courts, 15th Judicial District Court Judge Jules Edwards III, who is also currently serving as president of the Louisiana District Judges Association, testified that the sole purpose of the proposed legislation was to “talk bad about the judges.” He also… Continue reading →

LSU president, chancellor F. King Alexander: Thursday a big day in legislature; tensions are high, 'threat to higher education is still very real'

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU President and Chancellor Dr. F. King Alexander answers a question at a public forum hosted by Geaux Vote LSU on the past and present cuts on Louisianaƕs colleges and universities in the Manship School of Mass Communications building Wednesday, March 18, 2015.  Other panelists were University of Louisiana System President Dr. Sandra Woodley and Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project.

With only three weeks left in this important 2015 Legislative Session, tensions are high and the threat to higher education is still very real. On Thursday, House Bill 1 is scheduled to be heard by the full House of Representatives, and it holds the key to higher education’s success … or failure. Our legislators have so… Continue reading →

Our Views: Bobby Jindal's attempt to avoid House decision by executive order smacks of desperation as well as politics

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Bobby Jindal talks with Louisiana officials during a press conference at the St. Tammany Parish Government Administrative Building in Mandeville on Wednesday, October 30.

When he called the latest anti-gay bill in the Legislature a “distraction,” Rep. Neil Abramson, of New Orleans, put his finger on a principal reason that lawmakers balked at one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s pet proposals. Facing the largest budget crisis in many years, with complex tax policies under debate in a short… Continue reading →

James Gill: Why U.S. Sen. David Vitter's colleagues dislike him 'more than ever'

Senator David Vitter (The Advocate)

His fellow U.S. senators dislike David Vitter more than ever as he continues to denounce them for giving themselves benefits denied to regular citizens. Vitter evidently doesn’t mind being unpopular on Capitol Hill, as, indeed, he was in the corridors of the State Capitol at the start of his political career. He presumably… Continue reading →

Letter: St. George proponents misleading

I live inside the area of the proposed St. George City and it’s disheartening to see the St. George proponents want to dismember my hometown, where I was born, raised and lived my whole life. I made a career as a legislative staff attorney in Baton Rouge and retired after 29 years. Not long ago we got… Continue reading →

Letter: Redemptorist’s legacy shines in students

Thank you to the students of Redemptorist High for crafting, and to The Advocate for printing, the stellar essay on the school’s closing (May 8). In this techno-driven age, the well-written word is, at best, a threatened art. I have lived in Baton Rouge for 10 years and did not witness Redemptorist as the prevalent… Continue reading →

Letter: Trees preserve the natural beauty of the Lafayette region

It’s wonderful to call Lafayette home! We are famous for our unique French heritage, our food, our music and our friendliness. Unfortunately, Lafayette is not respected for its beauty. The beauty of a city can be measured. It can be measured by its cleanliness, the quality of its public art and architecture, and the degree to which… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace quick take: With executive order, Bobby Jindal 'did just what he often criticizes President Barack Obama for doing'

FILE - In this May 9, 2015, file photo, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Freedom Summit in Greenville, S.C. Jindal has formed an exploratory committee to consider running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrh

A few quick thoughts on the House Civil Law committee’s decision to shelve a controversial “religious liberty” bill aimed at allowing businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples without government penalty, and on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s subsequent executive order to accomplish the same goal: 1) Tuesday morning’s hearing was something of… Continue reading →

Our Views: Don’t skip prison reforms

For the first time in years, Louisiana’s prison population decreased last year. A drop of about 3,000 state inmates since 2012 has been one of the few bright spots in budget deliberations at the State Capitol, because feeding and housing prisoners is costly. The state projects an inmate population of 38,000 in the fiscal year… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: How Bobby Jindal can become president

In his hometown, there remain the true believers, those who have followed Bobby Jindal from the near-miss of the 2003 governor’s race to the Governor’s Mansion in 2008 and what many consider his foolish pursuit of the presidency in 2016. Of course, now we’re down to those who are stickin’, as James Carville… Continue reading →

Letter: Abortion bill a veiled attack on women

Louisiana lawmakers are venturing into increasingly absurd territory when it comes to abortion. Last week, members of the Louisiana House advanced dangerous legislation that chips away at women’s access to health care — apparently based on a fear of “sex selective abortions” among Asian Americans. House Bill 701 is a “sex-selective abortion ban” that penalizes doctors for providing… Continue reading →

Letter: HB 418 would put up obstacles around workers’ elected service

I want to clear up several misconceptions addressed in a recent opinion piece, “Government shouldn’t be in practice of collecting employees’ union dues.” The author made the assumption that Louisiana pays a million dollars to unions annually, but what he failed to articulate is that this money comes directly from workers’ earnings, not the taxpayers.… Continue reading →

Our Views: Wish list for center

The goals suggested in the name of Baton Rouge’s proposed “Recovery and Empowerment Center” are noble ones, but the concept is also a practical one. Such a center ought to be a destination for the mentally ill or otherwise challenged people who will clog the jails and claim the attention of our police… Continue reading →

Letter: LSU research needs state support

As we approach the mid-point of the 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session, I believe we can all agree that much remains at stake for higher education. That is why the recent Public Affairs Research Council report on university research was both troubling and enlightening. It was problematic because much of the data was old and not reflective of major… Continue reading →

Letter: We ignore Louisiana’s cultural, social issues at our own peril

As a black person in America, I want to express my disappointment with the society’s lack of awareness to the relations between black people and law enforcement. Last year, there were 14 cases of black people mysteriously dying by the hands of police or a security officer. Now with the incidents in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Baltimore, which… Continue reading →

Our Views: Higher education: Near the top of a bad list

After a day of major votes to cut tax breaks and exemptions, the Louisiana House’s Appropriations Committee added the expected new revenues from the bills into higher education funds in next year’s proposed budget. State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, joyfully tweeted the appropriations as “fully funding” higher education. Although that phrase… Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Outcome of Common Core compromise appears murky

The compromise over Louisiana’s use of Common Core in public schools was heralded by supporters and critics of the multistate education standards. But exactly what the deal would mean for Louisiana’s classrooms and its standardized testing is open to wide variations in interpretation. Whether it would ultimately scrap Common Core in public schools is definitely not clear.… Continue reading →

Letter: ‘Religious freedom’ bill would hurt economy

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has fancied himself a 2016 presidential contender, is now heavily promoting Louisiana House Bill 707 in an effort to be seen as a defender of Christian values. Jindal backs this bill under the guise of “religious freedom” instead of what it really is: the legalization of discrimination. The… Continue reading →

Letter: Incomparable issues illustrate discrimination inherent in HB707

I appreciate Lloyd Harsch’s May 1 letter supporting House Bill 707, because it allows me to address misconceptions those supporting such legislation seem fond of repeating. So, rather than resorting to using inflammatory phrases as he did, I will simply outline why his “analogies” fail. First, Harsch supposes that a Christian-owned bakery selling… Continue reading →

Our Views: Legislation on Common Core a truce, not compromise

There cannot be a genuine compromise on Common Core, if that means Louisiana steps back from higher standards in public school classrooms. What we are seeing in the Legislature is a truce, not a compromise. It is politics, not good policy. Opponents of the new standards faced a bleak legislative prospect before the House… Continue reading →