House Dems Fail to Kill Offshore Revenue Bill Friday, Jun 30 2006 

A bill that would finally give Louisiana a fair share of deepwater lease revenues and generate billions of dollars for coastal restoration passed Thursday night in the House of Representatives. The Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, sponsored by Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal (R), was approved despite stiff opposition from House Democrats. By an almost four-to-one margin, Democrats voted against the bill, ostensibly because it would ease a ban on offshore drilling that protects almost every other state’s coast except Louisiana’s.

The bill would reduce dependence on foreign oil, lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and at last reward Louisiana for its sacrifices as the nation’s offshore energy provider. Yet liberal Democrats oppose it for two reasons. First, they do not like the idea of having to look at oil rigs while they sun tan on the beach (or even having to think about the oil rigs, if they are 50 miles offshore). Second, they fear sea otters and other wildlife will get Exxon Valdezed all the time if Big Oil is allowed to infiltrate their precious coastal waters. (Like the 47,000 barrels spilled offshore recently near Lake Charles, but again, who cares, that was just Louisiana.)

To be fair, both House Democrats from Louisiana voted for the bill and Mary Landrieu (D) supports it in the Senate. And Governor Kathleen Blanco (D), with nothing to lose at this point, is trying to play hardball with threats to block new leases if the federal government refuses to share.

The Bush administration, on the other hand, dislikes the revenue sharing feature of the bill, even though land-based oil producing states have long had a similar deal, because of the price tag. But the measure could ultimately be cost neutral. Billions of dollars for Louisiana means a shored up coastline and restored wetlands, which in turn provides a natural barrier for hurricanes and storm surge, and reduces the chances of another costly disaster aid package (or more likely, a federal buyout of south Louisiana).

All out-of-state readers (if any), should urge their senators and the White House to support this bill when it is taken up in the Senate, probably next month. Louisiana’s future depends on it.

H R 4761 RECORDED VOTE 29-Jun-2006 7:21 PM
QUESTION: On Passage
BILL TITLE: Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act

  Ayes Noes PRES NV
Republican 192 31   7
Democratic 40 155   6
Independent   1    
TOTALS 232 187 13

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Mysterious Periodicals Appear in Post-Katrina Mailboxes Wednesday, Jun 28 2006 

000_0275.JPGNearly ten months after Hurricane Katrina, residents of New Orleans have begun to receive in their mail mysterious periodical publications.

Although the content and advertisements are similar to that of newspapers, these media are printed in color on coated paper and bound with a soft cover. They are apparently published on a regular basis and range from general interest and news-oriented to embracing very specific topics, such as cockfighting, whiskey, and man-boy love.

Evidently, the United States Postal Service imposed an embargo on delivery of these publications to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Despite its status as the nation’s third-largest employer (after only the United States Defense Department and Wal-Mart) and its $69 billion in annual revenues, the federally protected monopoly could not be troubled for ten months with the burden of delivering these bothersome rags to New Orleans residents.

Fortunately, the content of the news-oriented periodicals is even more outdated than traditional newspapers, and does not appear to be a viable threat to cutting edge web-based periodicals such as the The Weathers Report.

Thanks Houston Thursday, Jun 22 2006 

nola_cheek_evl_333.jpgWhen Houston's crime rate spiked after Hurricane Katrina, the city was quick to blame the violence on displaced New Orleanians. Between September and February, Katrina evacuees were accused of being involved in 26 slayings, or nearly 17 percent of all homicides.

Houston's mayor responded by requesting $6.5 million in aid from FEMA, apparently to help its police department patrol the Katrina "hot spots." A tough guy spokesman for the Houston Police Department spouted off that they were "going to relocate these men from apartments in Houston to a prison in Texas."

Yet the Houston police department was no where to be found last week when a Houston man, John Lee Cheek, 31, arrived in Louisiana and killed (allegedly) a St. John the Baptish Parish Sheriff's officer and crashed his car (allegedly) during a police chase, and ran into an elderly man's home and held him hostage (allegedly) before finally surrendering. Although Cheek was already suspected in several Texas thefts, the Houston police department was evidently too busy chasing around Katrina evacuees to lock him up. Maybe New Orleans should now demand money from the federal government to deal with all these criminals flocking here from Texas. Thanks Houston.

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National Guard Needed to Negate Knuckleheads Tuesday, Jun 20 2006 

100_0281.JPGWhen gunfire erupted at a second line parade last January, wounding three people, Mayor Nagin blamed the violence on "knuckleheads" and complained he was "tired of black folks killing each other." Five months later, after a Central City bloodbath left five teenagers dead from likely gang-related gunshot wounds over the weekend, the Mayor finally did more than make silly comments, urging Governor Blanco to re-deploy the National Guard to the city. She obliged with a promise to send 160 National Guardsmen and 60 police officers immediately, with 200 more troops after that.

That's a good thing for the city, as an escalating violent crime problem could cause the uneasy denizens of this city to hit the highway faster than a Nash Roberts evacuation advisory.

Stretched thin and forced to patrol devastated neigborhoods targeted by looters, the NOPD needs all the help it can get. So we're bringing back the Guard. Just like the good old days after the storm, when the Guard kept us safe, and all the drug dealers were still in Houston.

Sure, it felt a tad Nineteen Eighty-Four to watch soldiers securing St. Charles and Marengo (pictured above, six days after the storm), or to drive through military checkpoints at the parish line. I never did feel quite comfortable sitting in restaurants next to soldiers and their automatic weapons. "Sweetheart," I'd say to my two-year old daughter, as we dined at the sidewalk tables outside Nacho Mama's, "Don't play with the soldier's M-16, that's not a toy."

But it beats getting your head blown off in the cross-fire of a shootout. Regrettably, the plan is for the Guard to patrol only the damaged and deserted areas, freeing the NOPD to concentrate on the hot spots. But since the "knuckleheads" are obviously waging a full scale drug war in Central City, it's short-sighted to limit the military's involvement to guarding deserted houses in the Ninth Ward. Let's send a couple of tanks and a few dozen Guardsman over to Urethra Castle Haley (sic) and see how long it takes for the gangbangers to move on back to Houston.

Alberto Sails Wide Right Tuesday, Jun 13 2006 

Mother Nature took its first shot at New Orleans this 2006 hurricane season, but Tropical Storm Alberto sailed wide right.  The storm made landfall today where all good storms should hit, in Florida.  Due up for Mother Nature:  Beryl, Chris, and Debby, and if anyone gets on base, Ernesto.wide-right.jpeg

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Rebuilding Halts as Mexicans Watch World Cup Sunday, Jun 11 2006 

mexico soccer2.jpegAlthough last month's national "Day Without Immigrants" boycott had virtually no effect on the rebuilding efforts in mexico iran2.jpgNew Orleans, reconstruction came to a screeching halt today as Mexican laborers gathered around televisions to watch their beloved "fútbol" team battle Iran in first round FIFA World Cup action.

New Orleanians, meanwhile, historically unimpressed by the international "soccer" phenomenon, found themselves actually rooting for Iran, notwithstanding its membership in the axis-of-evil, hoping to hasten mexico iran.jpgMexico's exit from the tournament and allow post-Katrina reconstruction to resume.

It could be a long summer for contractors. Mexico looked strong as they defeated the pesky Persians by the score of 3-1. Oddly, the Mexicans next take on Angola, whose athletes until now have been best known for their performances in the biannual prison rodeo.  Developing . . . .

 

 

 

Non-Roofer Relocates to New Orleans Monday, Jun 5 2006 

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New Orleans’ newest resident isn’t a roofer. He doesn’t work for FEMA, and he’s not a mold remediator or a stump grinder. He’s not even Mexican. He’s a lawyer. And not just the condescending do-gooder type who’s down here to criticize the city for wanting to have elections, for refusing to pay for public defenders, or for having toxins in the post-Katrina soil. He’s a bona fide, for-profit business litigator.

David Curtis had accepted a job with a downtown law firm months before Katrina. But unlike many others without family ties to the city, Curtis and his wife immediately moved to the city last month after he finished law school at Ole Miss and passed the Mississippi bar exam. Shortly after the storm, in fact, Curtis took the extra step of racing into town and purchasing an Uptown shotgun double.

“He’s obviously an idiot,” says Jim Silverstein, a partner at the firm at which Curtis is now working and according to sources, still feeling effects from riding out Katrina in his Uptown home. Bewildered that Curtis not only re-confirmed employment after the storm but actually purchased real estate in the storm-ravaged city, he adds, “Why did we hire him?”

For his part, Curtis is “pleased as punch” to be here. He’s studying for the Louisiana bar and excited about the prospect of helping to rebuild a New New Orleans. “I’ve loved this city since I was a child,” says Curtis, who spent time in town each summer growing up visiting a childhood friend. “I’m confident the city will soon be better than ever.” Let’s hope he’s right.