What with all the murder and weather problems, you’d think you’d want a steady hand at the helm in the New Orleans mayor’s office. But as the race for mayor wound down, two commentators for the Times-Picayune suggested it “has been perhaps the blandest mayoral campaign season in New Orleans history.”
The biggest issue in this crucial, historical race was the use of a City Council credit card. As the campaign began, leading candidate LaToya Cantrell paid back the city for $4,000 she’d charged to her city gubment card.
Only strident supporters of Cantrell’s opponent Desiree Charbonnet think that Cantrell did anything illegal. The only worthwhile debate that might arise out of all this is that of why members of the N.O. City Council have a $30,000 expense account to begin with.
As if she were determined to find an even more inconsequential issue, Cantrell responded to credit card questions by saying that Charbonnet was getting a homestead exemption she wasn’t entitled to. But Charbonnet’s ex-husband lives in the house in question. So, again, there was absolutely nothing illegal — or even unusual — about the matter.
In the meantime, people kept on getting killed in New Orleans. Were voters expecting to hear some new ideas about how to reduce the murder rate? No such luck. At a debate, the candidates were asked to say something nice about each other. Cantrell conceded that Charbonnet is a “snappy dresser” (in the words of the Times-Picayune).
Well, that’s what New Orleans needs right now. A snappy dresser.
Not to worry. The political party system will no doubt work it all out.
Tough Day In The Parole Dept.
As November began, WBRZ-TV correspondent Natalia Verdina reported that a Parole Board officer in New Orleans was instructing “newly released inmates in Louisiana.”
In the photo I saw, there was a total of six people in the audience. “As long as we know where to find you, you are good,” said the parole officer. I don’t guess I’m any kind of expert on where you’re going to find paroled prisoners, but I think I have a pretty good idea of where you were not able to find them on one particular day.
You’d think that at least one or two more people would have shown, given that Louisiana gave nearly 2,000 prisoners early release (90 days) the very day the meeting was held. The release was meant to target nonviolent offenders.
Of course, that’s bound to mean more work for parole officers. WAFB in Baton Rouge reported that even before the release, a parole officer in that city handled — on average — 146 cases. The ideal number is 100. High turnover among parole officers is one consequence.
Good news for parole officers? A state raise will kick in in December.
In an interesting side note, Gov. Bel Edwards proved you don’t have to be a Trumpist to do a slash and burn condemnation of the media rather than directly address your problem. In an interview with the Times-Picayune, Edwards launched out in surprisingly hostile language:
“Well, part of [the negative reaction to the early release] is you all [the news media] presenting the information. All of these individuals are serving sentences for non-sex and non-violent offenses.” Then Edwards went through some number salad; he wound up the remarks with this: “Many of the news accounts lead people to believe that these are people who were going to be released who were not otherwise going to be released — and that is just not true.”
Now really. I followed this story from the get-go. And I knew from the get-go that it was non-violent offenders who were being released. I’d also note that any time a reporter says someone is being “released early,” you can take it for granted that the person is scheduled for release. It should go without saying.
Isn’t our gubner supposed to be a super-well-educated guy? Is the best he can do with media call them “you all”?
Of course, media is not to blame if people hear a few words from a news story and immediately whip themselves into a froth of hysterical fear. On the other hand, media is certainly to be blamed if it plays off the people’s irrational fears. That’s shoddy journalism and a violation of journalistic ethics. It’s not something you’ll ever see in Up Front.
And gubner — Democrats can benefit just as easily as Republicans from smooth relations with the media. I thought you knew that.
Where Is The Love?
Ready to have your mind blown? OK. Sit down and read this headline out of Covington:
“Fired teacher charged in biting of 2-year-old student.”
What was the thought process? How did the teacher get to the first step of thinking, “There are situations in which it is acceptable for a teacher to bite a student”? Then how did the teacher get to the second step of thinking, “Given that it is sometimes acceptable to bite students, I can identify situations in which it is acceptable to bite a 2-year-old.”
Somebody might say the teacher bit the toddler “without thinking.” But that’s the way we talk about dogs and cats. We like to think we’re different from them.
The teacher in question, 28-year-old Heather Marcotte, worked at Covington’s Northlake Christian School, which says it is a “special place where your child will be loved and nurtured.”
Really? That special, huh? School head Monty Fontenot responded to the outrageous biting incident by saying, simply, “We’ve handled it internally and there’s no further comment.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up there a second, Agnes. First, you’re telling me you’re loving and nurturing; then, when my kid gets bitten in the face, your loving response is to tell me “no comment”? I’m looking all up in here and I’m not feeling the love. How am I missing it? Where is the love?
Marcotte has been fired and arraigned under a charge of felony cruelty to a juvenile. Let’s hope she gets the help she needs — and that it truly is loving and nurturing.
Wanna See Some Litter?
Is all the interesting news for this issue from New Orleans? Don’t you believe it.
From LSU’s The Reveille newspaper comes this: “They have started a movement where people pick up litter, take a picture and upload it to their app.” And I thought it was boring when people posted pictures of their lunch, their coffee drink and their new grandchild.
What Do You Mean ‘What If’?
“What if La. had an election and nobody cared?” — Nov. 3 headline from the Shreveport Times.
The story concerned a run-off for treasurer between John Schroder (R) and Derrick Edwards (D) (as well as, presumably, other races and issues being decided in this November’s Louisiana election).
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Somebody in New Orleans has gotten concerned about the effects of those silly — I mean, educationally beneficial and community-building — school uniforms. N.O.’s The Lens is distributing a simple flyer that asks, “Has your student ever gotten in trouble for uniform violations? What happened?”
I don’t know whether Lens reporter Marta Jewson would be interested in SWLA horror stories, but if you want to check it out, the number is 504-517-3210.
I’m Not Going To The Funeral
From Houston comes word of the latest nail in the coffin of print periodicals. The long-revered Houston Press just announced that it will no longer have an in-house staff of writers. In the future, all Houston Press stories will be written only by freelancers.
In addition, these freelancers will be overseen by only one editor. If I’m reading it right, there will be a total of one editor on the premises of the Houston Press.
Gee, if a periodical as well-loved as the Houston Press can’t make it, who can? Well, I’m not quite sure. Lagniappe is still doing well and growing. That’s a fact. Half our issues this year have been at least 112 pages. That’s not at all bad for a place with a metro population of 200,000. I guess it makes sense to take your blessings where you find them.
Who Do They Think I Follow?
On one day, the two selections in my “Who to follow” box on Twitter were Roshini Bakishi, founder of “The Sanskrit Appreciation Hour” and FC Spartak Moscow, which I can’t describe, as the description on Twitter was written in Russian.
Maybe Twitter thinks I want to follow folks who write in languages I can’t read. Twitter bros — I may be eccentric, but I’m not that eccentric.
Thanks For The Heads Up, Son
BetterWorld Books offers for sale a volume titled The Greatest Disaster Stories Ever Told. The one consumer review — written by “C” — says only, “This book is incredibly depressing.”
“Science Says Regularly Attending Concerts Makes You Happier. If science says so, it must be true.” — Headline from Noisey Vice, Nov. 2.
“One person has been taken to the hospital with a severe arm injury after car overturns” — WBRZ (Baton Rouge) headline, Nov. 2.
“Wait! How did I miss that?
“Queen Bey joins ‘The Lion King’ and other things from this week” — CNN headline, Nov. 4.
“LSU fans boost team with paint, prayers, Tiger trailers, ‘Guice’ shirts, colorful cocktails.” Daily Advocate, Nov. 1. What was just as newsworthy as the headline was the photo that went with it — that of a man painted in purple and yellow pushing a push mower. Wow. Do you mean that in Baton Rouge, men still mow their own lawns with push mowers? It’s amazing how different things can be in a city that’s so close.