With Letten gone, ’tis the season for intrigue and wild rumors

Mob boss Carlos Marcello. Wikimedia

It’s transition time at the local U.S. attorney’s office, now that Jim Letten, the nation’s longest-serving federal prosecutor, and his top three lieutenants have retired in the wake of a scandal involving anonymous online comments.

How much does a jail-happy society owe its exonerees?

Exoneree John Thompson, of New Orleans, was awarded millions in compensation for wrongful incarceration but has been unable to collect. How much would you need to be paid to spend 25 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola?

Busting Jon Johnson shows early promise of a new kind of news

Councilman Jon Johnson’s indictment and abrupt resignation last week caught political observers off guard, but the gist of his wrongdoing was disclosed by my former colleagues at The Lens more than  a year ago. The Times-Picayune, which recently announced savage newsroom cuts as part of a transition away from daily print publication, only managed to cover the press conference.

Bill could end TP’s longtime hold on lucrative legal-notice ads

A bill passed by both houses of the Louisiana Legislature and now on its way to the governor’s desk could end The Times-Picayune’s decades-long monopoly on publishing the lucrative mandatory legal notices from public agencies. Clarification: The bill and this story refers only to state-required judicial notices issued by various agencies, a substantial subset of all legal notices, bids, advertisements and other “official journal” requirements that now appear in The Times-Picayune.

Open Society Foundations renew and increase funding for The Lens

We’re proud to announce a continuing and increased grant from one of our major donors, the Open Society Foundations. The Lens was founded in 2009 as the city’s first nonprofit newsroom with a grant from Open Society, and it has supported us at an average of $160,000 over the past three years.

Why the hurry, Congressman? A legal payoff lay ahead

Lee Zurik’s Fox 8 report on allegedly fraudulent oil leases owned by Gov. Huey Long’s “Win or Lose” corporation, worth hundreds of millions in royalties over the years, and passed down to Long’s  friends and descendants, is a fascinating investigation. Remember that Long, the Kingfish, rose to fame campaigning against Big Oil.

Head to take at-large seat immediately — even though it costs her a shot at 2 full terms

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

Defying political speculation, Stacy Head told The Lens Wednesday she plans to take office as one of the City Council’s two at-large members before May 7, meaning she would not be eligible for two full terms after this partial term is over. “I think it is important to take office as quickly as possible with a short transition period.” Head said in a telephone interview.