Have you ever seen Kinfolks — the quarterly magazine published by the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society? To get a subscription, you’ll need to become a member of the Genealogical Society. Annuals membership fees are $12 for individuals; $17 for a couple; and $22 for a patron membership (which provides additional financial support to the group).
In each issue, you’ll get informative stories about Lake Area history. The March issue contains a long selection from Adley Cormier’s new book Lost Lake Charles. There’s also an article by yours truly on Swamp Ferries, which I began with the sentence, “No historical situation better demonstrates the importance of documentation than that of ferries in the Lake Area.” If that’s not right, prove it!
The main reason I think you might want to subscribe to Kinfolks is that there’s always a bunch of hilarious material in the back. That’s where the headlines of a selected issue of the 19th century Daily American newspaper appear.
In that local paper of the past, a really big thing was society news (or, as the paper described it, “PUNGENT PERSONAL PICK-UPS. Pleasantly Put by Reporters While Pre-ambulating the Street.” Among the society news items of the July 29, 1897, issue were these:
— “Claude Mayo is transacting some business in Welsh today.”
— “Mrs. Thos. G. Kleinpeter has been sick for several days with rheumatism.”
— “T.A. Arceneaux, who has been visiting in the city, went to Beaumont this morning.”
— “Miss Flossey Wasey returned from Sour Lake, Tex., this morning, where she was visiting friends.”
So, that’s what Flossey Wasey was doing. And then there’s the court report. On July 29 in 1897, W. Graham was fined $2.50 for being drunk and “using bad language.” Tony Abraham was also fined $2.50, but only for the latter offense. Said Messor was also fined for being a potty mouth, but only in the amount of $1.50.
Of course, newspapers evolved quite a bit after that. If you read old issues of local newspapers from the 1940s and 1950s, you’ll find elaborate descriptions of what people served at their teas. If you want to get in on the Kinfolks magazine fun, send your membership fee to SWLGS, P.O. Box 5652, Lake Charles, LA 70606-5652.
The Difference Between 69 And 70
State House Republicans have hired a “communications consultant” to create a series of low-budget videos on social media that explain why its OK that they did nothing during the special session to deal with Louisiana’s $700-million dollar shortfall.
The videos stress that the panel that evaluates the state’s economic outlook says the budget will be $994 million short in the coming year. But the Republicans say that the estimate doesn’t take into account a $300-million boost in revenue that will come as a result of federal tax changes.
Well, let’s go ahead and subtract $300 million from $994 million. That leaves us with $694 million.
After the special session ended, reporters and commentators throughout Louisiana media stated repeatedly that the estimated budget shortfall was $700 million. And they said that figure was lower than expected because of federal tax changes.
So, if I interpret it correctly, the new GOP social media videos are complaining about a difference between $700 million and $694 million — a difference of $6 million.
That’s not really my idea of hardball politics. Writing about the Republican PR campaign, the Louisiana Budget Project said about what everybody’s saying: “Even with the extra income-tax revenue from the federal tax cuts, Louisiana still faces a serious budget crisis that will require deep cuts unless lawmakers agree to raise revenues.” As I’ve been saying for a few years, if you guys really want to cut spending, now’s the time.
Did You Get Your Money’s Worth?
To sum up what was said in the preceding piece, the Louisiana Legislature just met in a special session to address the state’s budget gap. They passed no legislation that had anything to do with the budget.
In fact, if I have it right, the Legislature only passed two bills during the special session. That’s right. A grand total of two bills. And, to repeat, neither of them had anything to do with the state budget.
The 15-day special session cost taxpayers $643,000. That’s for two non-budgetary bills. That’s $321,500 per bill.
Do you feel that you got your money’s worth?
The special session’s costs break down to $42,862 a day.
Here are some of the more interesting figures:
Per diem and mileage: $313,590
Staff’s extra hours: $100,160
Desk clerks: $18,060
Dining room: $3,675.
As usual, it costs an awful lot to get nothing done.
‘It Ain’t No Bluff’
One group officially took umbrage at the Legislature’s failure to do anything about the budget gap. That group is Louisiana’s public-private partnership hospitals, which has just taken legal measures to end its partnerships with the state.
Why? Well, when the Legislature failed to provide new budgetary resources, it automatically “left the hospitals on the chopping block,” as one writer put it. The hospitals are taking the position that they have no guarantee the state will continue to provide its share of the hospitals’ funding.
Lafayette General Health System’s president David L. Callecod sent a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards in which Callecod said, “It is unfortunate that the budget impasse the State finds itself in could lead to devastating … instability for thousands of employees, physicians, learners and patients who rely on the critical healthcare services UHC [University Hospitals and Clinics] provides … As part of the termination and withdrawal process, either LSU must elect to take over UHC’s operations or LGH will be forced to prepare for the following events:
“Terminating the employment of over 800 hard-working employees;
“Terminating GME [graduate medical education] training programs, and …
“Notifying the community … that LGH will vacate UHC … and services will be ended.”
Are the hospitals just blowing smoke in order to start a fire under the lazy behinds of state legislators? Maybe not. An anonymous “politico” told Lagniappe’s Jeremy Alford, “It ain’t no bluff. They’re already working on a timeline to implement it and turn the lights out by June 30. But they’re gonna keep that canned up until they can see what happens in the special session. I suspect there will be other notices forthcoming in the next three to four weeks.”
I’m assuming that refers to the special session that will take place after the current regular session. Doing nothing isn’t just costly. It’s complicated.
The Lemony Fresh French Quarter
In its April 4 issue, The Baffler magazine published a story titled “The Garbage Man,” which takes a look at the world of New Orleans entrepreneur Sidney Torres, who often appears on some reality show called The Deed.
It made me chuckle — especially one paragraph in which writer Will Meyer explains how Torres benefitted financially from the “post-Katrina gentrification” of New Orleans.
Torres’ hauling company, IV Waste, sought contracts to clean up hurricane trash in the French Quarter when city services weren’t able to. These actions earned him the novel nickname “Trashanova.”
Meyer doesn’t say how Torres feels about the nickname. But he indicated Torres feels pretty good about his garbage work. He quoted Torres as saying, “We were the first and only company that cleaned the French Quarter to a Disney World-like clean and made it smell lemony fresh.” Yeah, he actually uttered those words. Meyer interpreted the statement as “mean[ing] that IV Waste specializes in squirting a lemon-scented spray around the French Quarter to mask its storied miasma of piss and vomit.” Tell it like it is, man. Tell it like it is.
What You’re Doing With Your Life
From the Nielsen data analytics company’s list of Top 10 Most Liked Games — Mobile for the week ending March 31:
No. 1. Candy Crush Saga
No. 3. Candy Crush Soda Saga (up from No. 4)
No. 6. Trivia Crack
No. 7. Candy Crush Jelly Saga (up from No. 8).
Lord, please give me the means to invest in the Candy Crush company.
“’Ace of Cakes’ star gets engaged with twine” — CNN, April 3
“The Rock’s celeb crush will surprise you” — CNN, April 4
“Steph Curry names the worst popcorn in the NBA” — CNN, April 4
“Kate Upton shows off husband’s huge rung” — CNN, April 5.
It’s occurred to me that some people may think there’s some bias in the fact that CNN is so often chosen by the Up Fronter as the purveyor of silly news. Here’s why that happens.
Each day, I start my search for news at CNN. If there’s nothing I want to learn more about, my news day may end with that single visit. And CNN usually has enough silly headlines to meet my needs.
But CNN is by no means the worst offender. There are plenty of sources that have CNN beat cold when it comes to silly news, or what we might call “non-news” (but not fake news). Large internet providers seem to be particularly bad offenders.
We Have A Winner!
In the March 1 edition of Up Front, I gave loyal readers a chance to pariticipate in the column. I put photographs of Iggy Pop and Keith Richards side by side and asked readers to decide which celebrity has the “most beat-up, haggard, grotesquely wrinkled face.” Readers were invited to notify the Up Fronter of their choice by email.
I don’t mind telling you that I was more than a little surprised by the outcome. Here’s the final tally:
Iggy Pop — 0 votes
Keith Richards — 0 votes.
Well, who could have seen that coming? Hey, I enjoyed this reader participation thing. Let’s do it again soon.