Experts and court observers expressed dismay at the misconduct [U.S. District Judge Kurt] Engelhardt cited, calling it a major blow to the Justice Department … “It’s one of the most hard-hitting condemnations of the conduct of the Justice Department and several prosecutors in the Justice Department that I’ve ever seen,” said Pace University professor Bennett Gershman, a national expert on prosecutorial misconduct. “It’s a powerful expose of sleaziness, dishonesty, misconduct, egregious, flagrant — these are words the judge uses, and he’s right.”

“There are two New Orleans,” says Deon Haywood, executive director of Women With a Vision, an advocacy group for sex worker rights, drug policy reform, reproductive justice, and people with HIV. “The city is rebuilding and it’s making a comeback,” says Haywood. “There’s a new medical district, new schools, new businesses, new hip and happening areas, new housing options, and more technology. But in the other New Orleans, the poverty rate is the same as it was in 1999, the HIV rates are higher, the sheriff is building a larger jail, and adult education is at an all-time low. Oh, and bicycle lanes are growing.”

[Dan S. Collins, a Baton Rouge minerals consultant] discussed the recent flurry of interest in Mississippi. “Mississippi passed a severance-tax reduction law this year that’s a little better than Louisiana’s,” he said. “It trumped Louisiana.” A severance tax is a levy on the removal of nonrenewable resources, including oil and natural gas. Effective in July, Mississippi’s tax rate on hydrocarbons from horizontal wells was cut to 1.3 percent from 6 percent for the first 30 months of production or until the well pays out. During the first two years of drilling in Louisiana, the state has no severance tax on sales of oil produced. But Louisiana’s tax jumps to 12 percent after two years.”

Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and...