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Some stray thoughts from Louisiana on hurricane reconstruction, moral, physical and political.

Updated: 2017-08-27T11:51:12.451-05:00


Fort McComb, Lake Catherine, Louisiana


Ho Ho


Bobby Jindal MOCKS RNC Staffers: 'Stay Away From Bourbon Street' (VIDEO)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave some choice advice to Republican National Committee staffers during his appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Friday, recommending that they "may want to stay away from Bourbon Street."


But then we knew it was a Federal disaster to begin with.


Amnesty International report: US is guilty of Katrina-related human rights abuses |
Amnesty International says the U.S. government and Gulf Coast states have consistently violated the human rights of hurricane victims since Hurricane Katrina killed about 1,800 people and caused widespread devastation after striking in August 2005.

I'm really looking forward to "Treme" this weekend.


Horrible -- who can trust the police after this?


Raw, chilling details in Danziger Bridge shooting described in court document | -
Raw, chilling details in Danziger Bridge shooting described in court document



2010-04-08T11:37:35.555-05:00 | News | National group to probe LSU’s firing of professor — Baton Rouge, LA
A national college faculty organization is starting an investigation into LSU’s termination last year of Ivor van Heerden, one of the leading critics of federal engineers before and after Hurricane Katrina.


A reprieve.

2010-02-12T20:38:45.300-06:00 | News | Budget to spare higher ed — Baton Rouge, LA
Budget to spare higher ed

How long will this last?


Yeah, Payton!

2010-02-10T19:45:12.893-06:00 Blogs » Blog Archive Scenes from a Super sideline «
“It’s going to take balls to win this game,” said Payton.


Apparently talk of LSU layoffs is getting some people's attention.


What's the reason for the cuts? It's simple -- and simple-minded: tax cuts have gutted the budget in a time of recession.

Education, health care get soaked in Jindal's cuts

Here's more opinion. An open letter to Governor Jindal in the Shreveport Times.
Clearly, there also are some opportunities that need your focused attention. You said we would have 21st-century schools and colleges. What we see are colleges dying due to neglect and sending the best and brightest out of state for educational opportunities. During the interview process (campaign), you mentioned consolidation and specialization strategies to let our universities be centers of excellence in meeting their stated master plan objectives. This will not be achieved without bold leadership. The politics of the past without listening to the educators will kill the patient before treatment begins. Where is your focus?

Cuts will reduce LSU to mediocrity

Jindal cuts threaten education

Education cuts are the result of bad choices

This editorial from the Monroe News Star suggests a solution, one which we have long known about, but which few have the couragepush very far.

Why shouldn't higher education, an economic engine for Louisiana, enjoy at least an equal footing with other areas of state government during lean budget years?

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who ordered the midyear cuts to bring the state budget into balance, said he would support bills in the 2010 legislative session to direct dedicated revenues to higher education during lean times. That would mean other areas of state spending would pay, not a happy solution but a necessary one.

If it takes a constitutional amendment to protect higher education, well, the governor, a one-time ULS president, ought to demand that. The Legislature should provide the needed bills. That should be a top priority for the administration and lawmakers.Constitutional amendments involve a long process, but, goodness knows, our amendment-packed Louisiana Constitution has been altered aplenty over the last three decades. Jindal, who still packs substantial clout by virtue of his powerful office and statewide popularity, should be able to make that happen.

Otherwise, we might hear more unhappy words like these uttered by Moffett, who talked about "a cumulative down slide" for the campuses:

"We're going to the edge of the cliff, and we're getting ready to go over the cliff."


Boy Blunder should stick to politics.


Miami Dolphins chop block Bobby Jindal - -
The Miami Dolphins had to correct Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday for wrongly claiming his 12-0 New Orleans Saints could be the first team in league history to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl.


Maginnis is wrong on this score


I'm usually in Maginnis' corner, but this time he's siding with the jihad against regional universities on the mistaken presumption that it's too easy to get into college these days. But read the article and my comment.

First, create the crisis. Then solve it with your pre-ordained agenda.

2009-11-19T11:06:40.339-06:00 | News | State colleges may lose some degree programs — Baton Rouge, LA
Commission member and former LSU Chancellor James Wharton pushed three other recommendations approved Tuesday.

“There may be graduate programs that don’t have anything to do with that region of the state,” Wharton said. “Should the state support graduate programs that don’t have anything to do with the region?”

Commission member Belle Wheelan, who is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools president, said some of the bachelor’s degree-focused universities “grew too far.”

Commission member Mark Musick, the Southern Regional Education Board president emeritus, said regional universities should focus more on teaching undergraduates, while LSU must do a better job of attracting and educating graduate students.

Wharton has complained, for example, that too many public schools have specialized engineering programs. LSU, Southern University, the University of Louisiana at University, Louisiana Tech University and the University of New Orleans all have multiple engineering degree programs. McNeese State University has a general engineering technology program.

Wharton on Monday and Tuesday has mentioned the University of Louisiana at Lafayette when discussing the outgrowth of regional universities and degree programs.

A case right out of Shock Doctrine (a political must-read by Naomi Klein.) We created the state shortfall last year when Jindal pushed through tax cuts. The shortfal is exactly the amount of the cuts. Now we can use that crisis as an excuse to get rid of iritating programs, James Wharton has the ax out for graduate education in Louisiana.

One of my contributors pointed out that while Wharton NOW wants to close "programs that have nothing to do with that region of the state," a while back he was a big promoter of LSU's LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) in Livingston Parish. What, Dr. Wharton, does LSU, Louisiana and Livingston Parish have to do with gravity waves? Does Louisiana have a space program I don't know about? Of course, the LIGO project is one worthy of state support, and Wharton's past support for it shows the hypocrisy of his very parochial and provincial stance now.


This is big. Real big.


BBC News - US Army Corps blamed for Katrina floods
A US judge has ruled that negligence by the US Army Corps of Engineers led to massive floods in parts of New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

The court upheld complaints by six residents and a business against the Corps over its maintenance of a navigational channel.


Consequences: Intended or Unintended?

2009-11-03T09:40:30.769-06:00 | News | Lawyer: Jindal ‘crippled’ La. ethics — Baton Rouge, LA
ouisiana’s ethics system has been “crippled” as a result of legal changes made during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 2008 special session on ethics, the chairman of the Louisiana Board of Ethics said Monday.

“This is a convoluted and crippled ethics system we have today,” Ethics Board chairman Frank Simoneaux said. “It does not make sense. It does not work well.”

Simoneaux said the main culprit is a law that moved judicial power from the Ethics Board to administrative law judges, called ALJs. The ALJs are hired by an appointee of the governor.


Some sense enters the dialog, but it will not last in the Legislature.


Expert: Focus on La. universities | | The Advertiser
Instead of worrying about whether it has too many state universities, Louisiana needs to concentrate on making the ones it has the best they can be, says an out-of-state expert who is serving on a state review panel.

Critics of the higher education system have said having too many campuses — especially those close together — splits limited resources and leads to mediocrity.

David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education and a member of the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission, says every state has

similar situations, but the key is to define what each institution should do and then fund it appropriately.

"The real question isn't whether there are too many, but whether you have the critical mass to be viable," he said in an interview.

By "critical mass," Longa-necker said he means enough enrollment to economically warrant running a four-year university and "faculty adequate to do the task."


Vitter waffles.


Vitter Confronted By Rape Victim Over Franken Amendment Vote
At a town hall meeting this past weekend, meanwhile, the Senator was confronted by a constituent who, after recounting her tale of being raped, demanded to know why he opposed Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn) amendment.

The exchange was contentious, heart wrenching, and potentially damaging.


Maginnis understands -- we're going to cut expenses by denying more students the opportunity to go to college.


Louisiana Politics by John Maginnis
Path Set to Change Colleges

On its surface, a policy recommendation from the higher education advisory commission to increase graduation rates seems like a nice idea with little real future impact. But if implemented the way the Jindal administration seems to want, it could dramatically decrease enrollments of four-year schools over the next few years by increasing admission standards.

The real action, however, must be taken by the Board of Regents, which can direct the college governing boards to set higher admission standards and to reduce exemptions. The Regents can do that on their own, without legislative approval. Higher education sources believe that is no accident but a strategy to down-size some schools without legislators having to take hard votes.


Kathleen Blanco defends higher education in Louisiana.


Don't give up on Louisiana | | The Courier | Houma, LA
Because of financial problems caused primarily by short-sighted fiscal decisions last year, state government is faced with budget shortfalls. This answer leads to penalizing our people when capable students are denied access to four year degrees. Draconian cuts to higher education simply result in a meltdown into mediocrity, something that will take generations to overcome.

Do not accept this flawed logic that says dumbing down Louisiana is the answer. Education is a cause worth fighting for. Let your voices be heard on this issue or Louisiana’s gains will perish, I guarantee. It behooves all faculty members, students, families and the business community to seize this moment and insist the madness be stopped.


Ethics. Jindal style.


Jindal Fires State Employee Day After She Criticized Him
Gov. Bobby Jindal fired a state worker, Melody Teague, one day after she publicly condemned his plans to privatize state services. The worker's attorney claimed Teague was told that she was terminated for poor performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, years ago.


Jindal vs Cao on high speed rail.


Jindal rejects $300 million in stimulus money for high-speed rail | | The Thibodaux Daily Comet | Thibodaux, LA
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal is at odds with a fellow Louisiana Republican over the governor's decision not to seek $300 million in federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Like other governors, Jindal had a midnight Friday deadline to submit an application for the money. But Jindal aides have said the administration is not applying because of concerns about the project's ongoing costs. They said the state would incur an annual $18 million bill to run the rail system once it became operational.

But U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-New Orleans, on Friday called on Jindal to apply for the money. Since all U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill for the stimulus spending, Cao said, the state's elected officials should see that Louisiana gets its fair share.

"It's our duty to obtain as much as we can to rebuild this region," Cao said at a news conference at his city's train station.


Blanco takes on idea that we have too many college graduates.


She took aim at state officials with the Economic Development and Labor departments who have said the state has a surfeit of four-year college graduates and not enough workers with two-year degrees, considering the demands of Louisiana's job market. "I don't think there's a soul in this country who has ever accused Louisiana of being overeducated," Blanco said. "This is a huge mistake, and we'll pay for it for generations." She said LSU System President John Lombardi has not been afraid to speak out against the cuts and "dumbing down" of the state's education system, but that "the political class will probably try to silence him" and "run him off." She finished by saying, "Add your voice to this fight. . . . March over to the state Capitol and demand proper funding for all levels of education"


A good, snarky letter to the editor


No brain, no drain -
Curt Eysink, appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal as executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, has found an easy way to fix Louisiana's brain drain, and his logic is impeccable: If there were no brains, there would be no drain.

So Louisiana, let's quit growing those pesky things. It might take a while to reduce the "surplus" of college graduates without some help. To that end, I propose we start by asking two to leave -- Curt Eysink and his boss, Gov. Jindal.


Incredible! Too many graduates???? So create more jobs!!!!


4-year college graduates a surplus in Louisiana - NOLA.comBATON ROUGE -- Louisiana has a "surplus" of college graduates getting traditional four-year degrees and needs to steer more people into community and technical college programs to meet future job demand, the state's top labor official said Monday.Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, cited occupational forecasts that show the state will produce 10,312 more four-year graduates than there are jobs to fill between 2008 and 2016, while at the same time there are 3,892 more jobs available requiring associates' or technical degrees than there are people to fill them."We're producing a workforce that we cannot employ in Louisiana," Eysink told the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission, which is looking for ways to overhaul the state's higher education system.The panel was created by the Legislature this year and is expected to deliver a plan to the Board of Regents by Feb. 12 outlining proposed changes to the state's colleges and universities. Gov. Bobby Jindal has directed the group to identify $146 million in possible budget cuts as the state prepares for years of likely budget shortfalls resulting from stagnant revenues and rising costs.Eysink cited forecasting models that show the state's top-growing occupations to be low-skilled, service-industry jobs such as ticket-takers, cashiers and customer service representatives, as well as more skilled occupations such as nurses, teachers and trades such as welders and carpenters.Several commission members were unhappy with the perspective, as Louisiana already trails the rest of the South and the nation as a whole in nearly every educational indicator, including the percentage of the population with college degrees. Only 21 percent of Louisiana residents ages 25 to 64 have a four-year degree or higher, compared to 26.4 percent for the South and 29 percent of the nation as a whole.Saying a state has too many four-year graduates "is like telling a rich guy he has too much money," said Artis Terrell of Shreveport, a principal in the Williams Capital Group. "Can you ever have too many four-year degrees?"Is this the best Jindal can do?  We chould cut higher ed to make sure that the number of burger-flippers and dial-readers is sufficient for our low level industries. A guarantee of mediocrity for the next hundred years!In this article, the BoR Chariman fired back.Commission members said while community and technical college enrollment needed to grow, they didn't think that needed to come at the expense of four-year university degrees."It's like telling a rich man he has too much money. Can you ever have too many four-year degrees?" said Artis Terrell, chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents.For example, Terrell said Shaw Group Inc. founder and CEO Jim Bernhard recently told state officials that he chose to locate an engineering office in Charlotte, N.C., because of a shortage of engineers in Louisiana.And to make matters worse, we ALREADY have a horrible graduation rate.Only 5 percent of students graduate from two-year colleges compared with 16 percent in the region, said Joan Lord, a vice president of education policies for the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta.Lord said 37 percent of students in Louisiana graduate from four-year colleges and universities compared with a 52 percent average in the region.This editorial in the Picaynue makes the right argument -- let's not cut education, let's plan for an [...]

Kennedy draws line against LSU head.


Treasurer, LSU System chief at odds on higher education | | The Advertiser
BATON ROUGE — Treasurer John Kennedy believes the state's public four-year universities should be governed by one board to help cut costs, but he said Monday he opposes any suggestion to limit spending under the TOPS free college tuition program.

Those ideas, along with the treasurer's opposition to college tuition increases for students, put Kennedy at odds with the leader of the higher education system that includes the state's flagship university.


Jindal endorses Democrats’ health care reform bill


The Political Carnival: Jindal endorses Democrats’ health care reform bill
8 out of Jindal’s 10 are already in the President’s plan and the variations wending their way toward a merge process. [...]

Jindal’s article makes it clear that conservatives agree with how we’re proceeding on health care reform. It looks like Democrats made a serious effort to bring conservative principles into play where they could as a proxy for the demagogues in Congress who decided stonewalling is the way to reform our health care system.


Vitter has a challenger.

2009-08-31T19:13:27.174-05:00 | News | Melancon to take on Vitter — Baton Rouge, LA
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Charles “Charlie” Melancon announced Thursday that he will challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter next year in what is expected to shape up to be a political donnybrook.

The Napoleonville Democrat’s entry into the race is expected to immediately attract national attention with ammunition in the form of campaign dollars from the national parties.

I might get my wallet out for this one.