Government & Politics
‘Enemy for life’: Mayor Mitch Landrieu accused of steamrolling those who disagree with him | The Lens – Tyler Bridges delves into the mayor’s pattern of retribution:
Landrieu has worked hard to move the city forward. But he has displayed little patience for those who aren’t on the team. While jovial and gregarious in public, he often lacerates and retaliates against those who question that one voice — his.
The Lens interviewed more than 30 New Orleans residents who said that the mayor mistreated or punished them after they expressed a contrary view, or that they had firsthand knowledge of the mayor’s heavy-handed behavior. They include current and former elected officials, business people, a wide range of civic activists, attorneys and an opponent in the 2010 mayoral race.
Some of them say the mayor withheld funding or cut off city contracts. Others say he forced them from city boards or jobs. Still others say he chastised them with curse words over the phone or accosted them in public.
Kristen Gisleson Palmer talks politics at ‘Breakfast with the Newsmakers’ | The Lens – This morning, The Lens’ Charles Maldonado interviewed Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer at The Lens’ “Breakfast with the Newsmakers” event. Last month, Palmer made the surprise announcement that she would not seek re-election to the District C seat she’s held since May 2010.
No mid-year budget cuts will be required as Louisiana revenue dips only slightly | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – The Jindal administration will close a $35 million budget year shortfall with proceeds from the state’s tax amnesty, rather than make cuts. However, state economists are puzzled by weaker-than-expected corporate tax revenue numbers.
Zurik: $70,000 in federal grant money… for nothing | FOX 8 WVUE
A public servant has pleaded guilty in federal court to theft charges stemming from a series of FOX 8 reports. She’ll be sentenced by a federal judge next month.
For six months of work, taxpayers paid Schwann Sumas of New Orleans $70,000 – but our 2011 investigation showed she did little work for that pay.
Congressional Moneyball | Brookings Institution – Brookings reviews the performance of the 113th Congress and sees historic futility: fewer public laws passed “than any other Congress since at least 1947.” A baseball metaphor pervades a sortable chart of the “batting averages” of individual members of Congress, reflecting the percentage of sponsored bills that made it through committee. Here’s how the local delegation did:
Rep. Steve Scalise had one “hit” in four at bats for a batting average of .250. Cedric Richmond had zero hits in nine at-bats. U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu had six hits in 27 at-bats. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen David Vitter — despite having 61 at-bats, the most of any senator, was hitless.
With lethal-injection drugs hard to get, states turning to custom pharmacies | The Lens – Prison officials in other states have turned to compounding pharmacies to get the drugs they need for executions. Louisiana’s next execution is scheduled for Feb. 5, and it’s not clear whether the state has the poisons it needs or will seek a pharmacist willing to make a special batch.
OPP inmate shows up in court too high to stand, prompting probe | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – “An Orleans Parish Prison inmate has shown up for court three times too doped up to stand for his appearances, prompting court-ordered drug testing and an investigation at the jail, records show.”
Judge Clement makes friends with Big Oil | The New Orleans Advocate – Columnist James Gill argues that federal Judge Edith Clement has a conflict of interest because she is a board member of The Foundation for Research into Economics and the Environment, which Gill describes as a front for Big Oil.
Live blog: Lawyers suing oil & gas industry defend suit before state coastal authority | The Lens – The meeting turned out to be as contentious as predicted. Lens environmental reporter Bob Marshall’s live blog coverage has a play-by-play of the fireworks between attorneys for the state and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, the levee board that filed the suit against oil and gas companies for coastal land loss. Graves, a Jindal appointee, strongly opposes the suit.
Louisiana’s top coastal official may explore lawsuit to block levee board suit against energy companies | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – I can say from firsthand observation (and brief participation), that the last four hours of this meeting were intense. Bottom line: the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board voted to give Chairman Garret Graves “the power to explore a lawsuit to nullify the contract between the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East and its attorneys in the wetlands litigation.”
Louisiana forests being sacrificed to fuel Europe’s biomass boom | Al Jazeera America
“It’s ludicrous that we’re chopping down our forests and shipping them to Europe to help meet their energy goals,” said Scot Quaranda, the campaign director for the Dogwood Alliance, a forest watchdog group. “But in the South, on private land, you can basically get away with anything.”
Fed turns sour on banks’ physical commodities trading | Financial Times – An absolutely fascinating article — to me, anyway. It shows unexpected financial repercussions from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. A decade ago, the Federal Reserve eased commodity trading restrictions on large bank holding companies such as JPMorgan Chase. In the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill, the Fed noted that these companies are shrinking their exposure to volatile commodities trading. Ironically, disaster risk exposed by the BP oil spill may result in fewer large banking competitors for BP’s energy-trading division.
Appeals court says teachers were improperly fired | Associated Press – Breaking news: “A state appeals court has affirmed a lower court ruling that thousands of New Orleans teachers fired after Hurricane Katrina were denied the constitutional right of due process.”
Unauthorized credit card use among issues faulted by OPSB auditors | The Lens – Another problem: the computer program for the Orleans Parish School Board automatically adjusted staff seniority to reflect pay grades, regardless of actual years of service.
St. Bernard Parish seeing revitalization along St. Claude | WWL-TV – St. Bernard residents hope that streetscape improvements and new businesses will reinvigorate Old Arabi.