New Orleans Certainly Out of Cone-of-Uncertainty Sunday, Aug 27 2006 

For now.  Let’s hope it stays that way. Thanks Florida.

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Rising Tide Lifts All Blogs Sunday, Aug 27 2006 

logo-rising-tide.gifMUNICIPAL YACHT HARBOR, NEW ORLEANS – I used to tease a friend and colleague of mine, who shall remain nameless, for his miniature war gaming hobby. When his ancient Chinese army placed third in a New England invitational tournament, I sent a firm-wide e-mail congratulating him and exposing his secret foible.

I can’t tease him anymore. I eagerly attended this weekend’s Rising Tide blogger conference.

With the approach of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and possibly of Tropical Storm Ernesto, bloggers, technologists, academics, and advocates gathered for fellowship, discussion, and “a ‘real life’ demonstration of internet activism.”

The not-quite renovated home of the New Orleans Yacht Club, overlooking a marina filled with half-sunken sailboats, was the perfect venue for any discussion of post-Katrina New Orleans. Especially when the rain started to pour.

The key note speakers were Christopher Cooper and Robert Block of the Wall Street Journal, co-authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security, which is evidently a searing indictment of the federal response to the hurricane. (A book review will be forthcoming soon.) In his address, Cooper, who once covered politics for the Times Picayune, made the surprising revelation that he and other national journalists religiously read blogs for “local truth.” While the professional writers could not care less what local bloggers like Oyster and Loki have to say about the war in Iraq, they consider their observations on local issues, like the rebuilding of New Orleans, critically important in helping them write the story for a national audience.

dscf0300.JPGThe panel discussions that followed had a touch of self-aggrandizement, with the question of “Why hasn’t the mainstream media gotten the story right?” sounding a familiar theme. And the roundtable on local politics had some awkward moments, like when Shane Landry made the case for secession if Louisiana fails to receive its fair share of offshore oil royalties. Panelist Peggy Wilson, she of 773 votes, was innocuous for most of the discussion, but unfortunately had a Pavlovian response to a comment about Mitch Landrieu and went into one of her trademark rants. The tirade culminated in Dangerblond’s impassioned defense of the lieutenant governor and ultimately storming out of the room. Since Dangerblond helped organize the event, it’s pretty safe to say Wilson won’t be invited back next year.

Overall, the discussions were captivating, especially the conversation on the symbiotic relationship between old and new media.

The New Orleans blogging community, with its shared experience of one of the most tragic stories in American history, has reason to be proud of its contributions before, during, and after the storm. I’m certainly looking forward to next year’s Rising Tide, assuming this struggling city is still around to host it. Until then, I’ll work on telling the “local truth.”

(Thanks) Houston Seeks to Purloin Essence of New Orleans Wednesday, Aug 16 2006 

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The flood waters from Katrina had barely been pumped back into Lake Pontchartrain when the despicable mayor of San Antonio began working to keep the beloved New Orleans Saints in the Alamodome permanently. Fortunately, the esteemed NFL Commissioner, Paul Tagilabue, put the kibosh on the move, recognizing it would be gauche to steal from a city that had just suffered the worst natual disaster in American history. Instead, the Saints will play every home game, before sellout crowds no less, in the Superdome. (Kickoff in 39 days.)

But that has not stopped some in (Thanks) Houston, our friendly Gulf South neighbor to the west, from working to keep the Essence Festival, the hugely popular music and empowerment seminar that was relocated to Houston while the Superdome undergoes disaster repairs. The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this week that music executive Mathew Knowles, the father of Beyoncé, is working with Houston city officials to land the Essence Festival again in 2007. Before this year, the festival had never been held outside New Orleans. Over this past July Fourth weekend, the festival pumped an estimated $90 million into the (Thanks) Houston economy.

Obviously fearing a NOLA media maelstrom, the (Thanks) Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau politely refused The Weathers Report‘s request for comment and directed all inquiries to the festival organizers. An Essence spokeswoman had earlier explained the group was negotiating with Houston and New Orleans, and that a decision for 2007 was expected within the next few weeks.

Perhaps Mayor Nagin is working feverishly behind the scenes to keep the festival in New Orleans. But probably not. Just last month, (Thanks) Houston welcomed the permanent relocation of Bisso Marine, a marine salvage company that had been headquartered here for 116 years. (It is unknown whether Nagin kept his election night promise to send them a post card.) Instead, we better hope there is a Paul Tagliabue of R&B Music.

(Keegan Chopin, Senior Correspondent in The Weathers Report Houston Bureau, contributed to this story.)

________________

Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 13:43:38 -0500
From: “Lindsey F. Brown” <lbrown@ghcvb.org>
Reply-To: lbrown@ghcvb.org
Subject: RE: Essence Festival –

Stormy,

Going forward, all information about the Essence Festival in Houston will come directly from the festival. Thanks!

—-Original Message—–
From: sweathers@weathersreport.com

Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:50 AM
To: Wanda Zuchniewicz
Subject: Essence Festival – http://www.weathersreport.com

Good morning. I’m working on a story for The Weathers Report concerning Houston’s efforts to have the Essence
Festival permanently relocated from New Orleans. Would someone from the Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau care to comment on that? Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4117189.html

–Stormy

Stormy Weathers
Publisher
The Weathers Report
http://www.weathersreport.com

ACLU Report Rips Sheriff Gusman over Katrina Thursday, Aug 10 2006 

coveralt.jpgAlthough it comes too late to help the Gerald DeSalvo for Criminal Sheriff campaign, the ACLU has issued a blistering report on the preparation, response, and reaction of Sheriff Gusman before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Anyone concerned that the liberal ACLU would pull punches in a report critical of an African-American sheriff has nothing to fear; it absolutely lambasts him.

In a 145-page report entitled “Abandoned & Abused,” released after an 11-month investigation involving hundreds of interviews and written accounts, the ACLU concludes Sheriff Gusman failed to make adequate emergency preparations, abandoned both his deputies and the prisoners in deplorable conditions, and pathologically lied about it to win re-election. It closes by urging the Justice Department to commence a federal investigation into civil rights violations.

Loyal readers may recall, The Weathers Report broke the story back in March that Sheriff Gusman had checked himself into the honeymoon suite in a hotel in Gray, Louisiana in the midst of the post-Katrina chaos. The ACLU report is short on details of the desertion, merely discussing the mass resignations of deputies after being “[a]bandoned [b]y [t]he [s]heriff.” It does, however, contain an account by Brady Richard, formerly a OPP medical supply officer, who recalls a horrific stint at the jail before being transported by bus, along with other employees, to the Lions Club Hall in Gray, Louisiana. There, Sheriff Gusman apparently gave a bizarre speech, admonished the employees to behave, and left without thanking them, adding that he wasn’t “sure what you’ll eat tonight but we’ll try to get something hot for you tomorrow.” According to Mr. Richard, these events occurred on Friday the 2nd. Indeed, the same night Sheriff Gusman went honeymooning near Houma.

Sheriff Gusman’s term expires in 2010, when the Orleans Parish criminal sheriff and civil sheriff positions will be consolidated, like every other parish in the state.

Pro Bono Lawyers Needed to Keep Criminals Behind Bars Friday, Aug 4 2006 

080306_tremearrest.jpgWith a criminal district judge threatening to release poor defendants due to a post-Katrina lack of funding for the public defender’s office, the search is on for volunteer lawyers to pick up the slack.

The Louisiana State Bar Association sent out a call this week to all Louisiana lawyers, even those who handle business, personal injury, and domestic matters: Volunteer to represent a criminal! “Without adequate and indigent representation for defendants,” says LSBA communications director Brooke Monoco, “due process rights are at risk and the state may be forced to release many defendants.”

So, you’re a lawyer but don’t know the difference between an arraignment and a preliminary hearing? You quit watching The Practice when Bobby Donnell left the firm? Not a problem. The bar is offering a free program to “refresh” civil practitioners on criminal law.

Fellow counselors, we owe it to the community to volunteer. Without our pro bono efforts, these criminals will be back on the streets. If we do represent them, there’s at least a chance these criminals will stay in jail. Second thought, given most civil lawyers’ inexperience with the criminal justice system, there’s a very good chance of that. So don’t do it for the criminals; do it for a safer New Orleans!

Who will take Raymond Amison, 18, above, recently arrested for quadruple-murder? (By the way, it looks from his Astros baseball cap that he’s spent some time in Texas. Thanks again, Houston.)

________

Louisiana Attorneys,

New Orleans needs your help. Because the primary source of funds to support the Indigent Defender Board is sorely under fuded this year and unable to provide the necessary level of representation to the estimated 3,600 detainees awaiting trial in Criminal District Court. Additional money may be forthcoming from the state, but the crisis is immediate. Without adequate indigent representation for defendants, due process rights are at risk and the state may be forced to release many defendants.

Please consider volunteering to represent a criminal defendant on a pro bono basis. Not sure you know enough about criminal procedure and substantive criminal procedure and substantive law to undertake criminal defense? The New Orleans Bar Association will offer a free 4.66 CLE program to refresh civil practitioners on criminal law Friday August 4. Learn tips from experienced criminal defense lawyers and law school professors. And at the end of the day, you can sign up for an appointment to OIDP. There is no obligation to sign up for an appointment, but if you do, OIDP will honor any requests for appointment to “less” serious cases for those who request it.

Earn CLE hours at no charge while learning skills to help maintain the rule of law in New Orleans. For more information go to LINK. To register for the CLE please contact pcotogno@neorleansbar.org.

If you have experience in criminal law and would like to volunteer as a criminal pro bono attorney please call Brooke Monaco at 504.619.0118 or bmonaco@lsba.org

Thank you for your consideration.

Brooke Monaco, Communications Director, Louisiana State Bar Association

Retraction: Don’t Run for Your Life Thursday, Aug 3 2006 

This just in: It appears Tropical Storm Chris may not be the first Atlantic hurricane of the season. Carry on.

Run for Your Life!!! Wednesday, Aug 2 2006 

Chris may become first Atlantic hurricane of 2006!!!!