It’s been a while since the Up Fronter wrote about Southwest Louisiana’s premier surrealist painter: Lafayette’s Amy Guidry. Guidry’s work has appeared in many national magazines. But there’s nothing wrong with making a mention when a Guidry piece shows up in a Louisiana periodical.
Guidry’s recent painting Insight was just reproduced in Louisiana Vistas magazine. In typical surrealistic form, the painting depicts a running rabbit who has a great big human eye in its side.
Guidry says the eye is a reference to the Lover’s Eye: a 17th century tradition of lovers carrying around paintings of their loved one’s eye in jewelry they wore. In Guidry’s new painting, the eye on the rabbit represents “the way we see ourselves in animals as well as seeing the world through their eyes.” Note that the rabbit’s “real” eyes are covered by a cloth. In Guidry’s surrealistic world, it’s looking at things through the big eye it shares with human beings.
Want to know more? Visit amyguidry.com. Thanks to Louisiana Vistas for this image.
Like Surveillance Cameras?
For whatever reason, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu would like to spend $40 million of taxpayer money putting up surveillance cameras all over New Orleans. The cameras would be recognizable because they have red and blue flashing lights. Under the program, the city would gather feeds from the cameras of hundreds of local businesses. Here’s a nice touch: any business that sells liquor would be required to have at least one camera mounted.
The plan was protested by a large group that gathered in front of the N.O. City Hall on Feb. 23.
The protest contingent was made up largely of members of the Congress of Day Laborers and half a dozen other immigrant and worker groups. Protestors claim that federal immigration officials could use the cameras to track illegal immigrants and use the information gained to deport them.
Some protesters held pinatas that looked like surveillance cameras. Thus, when they broke the pinatas, the protestors could — symbolically — smash the surveillance cameras. As soon as the media videotaped that (which they were bound to), the public would certainly get educated about the matter.
N.O. Police spokesman Beau Tidwell said, “the camera system is intended to help deter and prosecute violent crime. This is not a surveillance operation that will have any role in immigration enforcement.” And he may really believe that. But of course, it only takes one powerful person to misuse the system and all sorts of horrible things might start happening — and not just to illegal immigrants.
To be fair, I’ll note that at present, the N.O. Police Dept. is forbidden by the federal government to ask about suspects’, victims’ and witnesses’ immigration status.
Protesters were no doubt aware of the much more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws by the New Orleans ICE field office that’s taken place since President Donald Trump took office. In 2017, the office — which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee — arrested four times as many immigrants with no criminal records as it did in the preceding year. And it deported more immigrants than it did in the last three years combined. You can see why protestors might be a little jittery.
Landrieu’s plan will have to be approved by the N.O. City Council before it can go into effect.
Santos Canales, a Honduran native who was at the rally, told The Advocate, “the reality is cameras aren’t going to change anything regarding crime. If people want to commit a crime, they are going to do it regardless of whether there is a camera there.”
I can’t entirely agree with him. I will say that if a criminal is dumb enough and precipitous enough, he will try to commit a crime under almost any circumstances.
‘Be On The Lookout For A Wraparound Tuba’
That was the headline the Associated Press ran on March 2. It appeared that someone had stolen the signature Sousaphone of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall — one of the centers of traditional New Orleans jazz. That Sousaphone was actually a recent replacement for its predecessor, which was ruined in Hurricane Katrina.
Musician Ben Jaffe played the Sousaphone on Feb. 24 at the New Orleans Airlift artists and musicians collective. After the show, the Sousaphone showed up missing. I don’t mean that it showed up. I mean someone figured out it was missing. Do you follow me?
The words “Preservation Hall New Orleans” are painted in large letters all around the instrument’s bell. There is a reward for the instrument’s return. The Preservation Hall would really like to get this one back, as a Sousaphone can be expensive.
Fee Hike Could Hit One In Five
Why does the Louisiana Legislature come up short every year when the state has a $1-billion (or so) budget gap? Why doesn’t it ever prevent the next year’s gap?
Do you mind if I hazard a few opinions? You don’t? Good.
Conservatives want to cut state spending. Liberals don’t mind if certain spending gets cut. But since almost no spending ever gets cut, liberals often want to cover increased costs by raising taxes.
If conservatives had their druthers, they might like to cut entitlements the most. But entitlements don’t make up a huge chunk of the budget — especially when entitlements related to the military and ex-military are factored out. And the feds and potential public outrage limit the degree to which entitlements can be cut. We know, for instance, even very wealthy people insist they should be on Medicare. After all, they say, they “paid into it.”
So, what else could be cut? Well, in Louisiana, the gargantuan backlog of pork projects could be cut. But neither conservatives nor liberals want to do this. There is something sacred about the pork project in Louisiana. No politician wants to cut one — not even when he’s term-limited or retiring. I think it may be a Louisiana thing.
So, what about raising taxes as a way of getting state revenue? Well, we know sales taxes get raised sometimes. But again, it’s something that neither conservatives or liberals like to do. Why? Sales taxes are regressive. That is, they tax rich people and poor people at exactly the same rate. That might not be too bad for rich people. But poor people live on fixed incomes. If state taxes go up, they’ll buy less stuff. They may not spend less, but they will keep their level of spending flat. That means no increased revenue for the state from its masses of poor people.
The Legislature could increase the income tax of those who can afford to pay higher income tax. But conservatives really don’t want to do that. Perhaps they feel they might offend affluent contributors.
As for changing the part of the state Constitution that prohibits the Legislature from taxing any area of state spending other than health care, education and human services, both conservatives and liberals are reluctant to do that. For some reason, both groups seem to feel that a constitutional convention is about as desirable as Armageddon.
It’s as if the Louisiana Legislature condemns itself to playing chess with nothing but pawns. All big-money moves are off the table. And that’s why every fee under the sun that can be raised gets raised (but doesn’t get called a tax increase).
Folks can get steamed about some increases in fees, such as fees for gasoline or cigarettes. But in other cases — such as the recent gutting of TOPS funding — residents don’t seem to mind when the failure of the Legislature to act forces them to spend more of their own money.
From Baton Rouge comes word of a proposed fee increase I think might rile up a huge chunk of the population. The fee hike being floated is a 42-percent increase in fishing fees and a 33-percent increase in hunting fees.
Jack Montoucet, a former state legislator, and the secretary for the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, proposed the hikes to the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Feb. 26.
If they become law, they’ll be the first increases in hunting and fishing fees in Louisiana in 18 years.
Why does Montoucet say the fees increases are needed? Well, it seems the LDWF has lost $65 million since 2009. Why have they lost so much? Get this — “because of state budget problems.” Who’d have guessed it?
Montoucet also offered up the perennial excuse that fee increases would “bring charges in line with neighboring states.”
For the fees to become law, Montoucet said, “certainly it is going to be an uphill battle.” Keep in mind that no fee increase can go into effect unless the state Legislature approves it.
The fee overhaul will be debated during the regular session. Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, will sponsor the bill that enables the fee hikes.
How many people might feel a burn about this? Louisiana has 700,000 licensed fishermen. If that number seems large, that’s because it is. Almost one in five Louisianans who’s eligible to get a fishing license has one. There are roughly half as many licensed hunters: 326,000; of those, 92,000 are deer hunters.
What would the increases amount to in dollars and cents? A basic fishing license for a year would go from $9.50 to $13.50, while a basic hunting license would climb from $15 to $20. The jumps would give the department an increase of $10 million a year. That increase would attract an additional $1.4 million from the feds.
So that would be a $9 a year increase for people who get both licenses. Would that amount be enough to get under people’s collective skin?
Just to play the devil’s advocate here, how much has inflation increased since the last hike in licenses? That would be 36 percent.
Now, suppose the Legislature doesn’t pass these fee hikes. Well, you live in Louisiana. You know the drill. The result will be lost jobs. Law enforcement agents and biologists will be laid off. And some of them will most likely head out for one of the 49 other states that have wildlife.
Do You Want To Talk About Tech?
The TechX Conference & Expo bills itself as “the event for all things technology, marketing and innovation in Louisiana.” The next conference will take place in Baton Rouge Jan. 9-11, 2019.
TechX 2019 will host more than 70 educational sessions. The TechX team has opened a call for speakers, including keynote and “power lunch” speakers. Topics will range from information technology and cybersecurity to emerging technologies and the business of technology.
Can you talk about any of those things? Organizers say the speakers chosen will come from “all walks of life.” You can go to the TechX website for more information about becoming a speaker.
‘It Has Snowed’
When reporter Sam Gelder of the Islington Gazette in Britain was told to do a fluff piece on a dusting of snow that had covered his city, he did what thousands of journalists have wanted to do over the years and expressed his frustrations in print.
The headline for his story read, “Islington, it has snowed.” The story’s initial text read, “For anyone looking at the Gazette before they look outside, it has snowed.”
Anita Singh, the person who Tweeted Gelder’s story to the world, wrote this text to accompany it:
“Can you do a weather story?
“Do I have to? They’re so boring.
“Just do it!