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Stephanie Grace: Edwards not trying to scare people? Sure looks like it

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards. ORG XMIT: BAT1601051615460496

Gov. John Bel Edwards insisted during his highly unusual address Thursday night that he wasn’t trying to scare people. Well, of course he was. Why else paint a doomsday scenario on statewide television three days before the Legislature will gather to deal with an immediate cash shortfall of nearly $1 billion and a hole… Continue reading →

Our Views: Parade prompts a call for civility

Photo submitted -- Some 2016 Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade floats are under scrutiny for their controversial and insensitive themes, such as this one showing police brutality against flamingos.

The defining spirit of Mardi Gras, its open-armed generosity to friends and neighbors, is what makes it so special across south Louisiana, and that ideal was, for the most part, alive and well in this year’s Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade in Baton Rouge. A notable exception was a parade float lampooning… Continue reading →

Our Views: High flying on the taxpayers’ dime

If you want to connect with the Jefferson Parish School Board, it might be best to visit the airport. There’s a good chance of catching at least some of the members there, jetting out of state on the taxpayers’ dime. Since a new slate of teacher union-backed… Continue reading →

Our Views: This fairy tale couldn’t happen here

Let me tell you a fantastical story that I heard recently. The storyteller swears it’s true. As the story goes, back in medieval times there was a grand young man, El Bob the Lack-of-Heart, who became Prince of Lardzanna, an unusual realm in the southern countryside. When El Bob took over Lardzanna, he was… Continue reading →

Letters: The statues are not the problem in New Orleans

I grew up in New Orleans. I don’t remember ever going on field trips to the Confederate statues, but I also was never taught that these statues were a symbol of hate. I actually never thought too much about them until of late. I think this is the case of many people here. In regard to a… Continue reading →

Letters: Strip clubs endanger New Orleans

After the one-year moratorium on new strip clubs expires, what’s next for the French Quarter and the image of New Orleans? The French Quarter already has the nation’s highest concentration of strip clubs on a per capita basis and per square mile. According to an urban research study, Portland, Oregon, has the highest number of strip clubs per… Continue reading →

Letters: There’s no fun in mocking death at Spanish Town parade

It started with a grand and silly idea. “We are going to do a Mardi Gras parade our way.” Mardi Gras parades usually have strict governing bodies and adhere to a set of rules that often are reflections of our economic caste system. You have “old money” krewes that you have to be born into, “nouveau riche” krewes… Continue reading →

Letters: Concerns ignored in Government Street planning

I have lived just off Government Street for more than 22 years, travel that street on a regular basis, frequent its stores and restaurants and have great interest in its future. Surely, I must be among many in Baton Rouge who are aghast at the current plan to reduce that street from a four-lane essential conduit… Continue reading →

Our Views: LIGO research facility helps put Louisiana’s ear on the cosmos

From a largely unknown spot in Livingston Parish, scientists have cupped their ears to the heavens and heard an important clue about the workings of the universe. The discovery confirms what Albert Einstein suspected about how the cosmos operates. One doesn’t have to be an Einstein to understand that Louisiana’s role in this breakthrough… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. John Bel Edwards' unprecedented speech 'definitely designed to terrify people'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Here is Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace's Quick Take on Gov. John Bel Edwards' televised address about the state budget: 1) Edwards, a Democrat facing a Republican-dominated Legislature, has tried his best to cast the state's budget shortfall of roughly $3 billion for the rest of this fiscal year and the next as a bipartisan problem in need of bipartisan solutions. His… Continue reading →

Letters: When the smoke clears, it’s about personal choices

There is a movement to make all public places smoke-free. There are people who can’t stand smoke because they don’t smoke or they may have stopped smoking, which is a choice. Before you enter an establishment that allowed smoking, you’re made aware. Why would you want to come in when you can’t stand the… Continue reading →

Letters: Proposed rail linking cities is a boon, not a boondoggle

When a proposed public project attracts cynical attention from the Cato Institute, chances are that project is gaining traction. For a passenger rail in Louisiana, this is a good thing. The recent guest column written by Randal O’Toole, published in The Advocate on Jan. 31, is highly critical of a proposed intercity passenger rail project between… Continue reading →

Guest column: Increasing black student achievement imperative

Patrick Dobard

Recently, a group of black Louisiana schools superintendents met to discuss the rate at which black students are learning in our school systems. Today in Louisiana, we have more black superintendents of public school systems than at any other time in our state’s history. This is important because almost 40 percent of the 45.5 percent of… Continue reading →

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 calls Bobby Jindal ‘one of best governors in America’; should we laugh or fear?

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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 →