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Library Chronicles

Paradise plastic. Cheap and fantastic.

Updated: 2018-02-22T17:12:43.745-06:00


The gun debate is boring


It isn't an interesting dilemma. There aren't any complicated politics. It's not one of those things where we all have to sit down and work out a grand compromise that respects the validity of "both sides" regardless of whatever David Brooks says. Also, why are people still worried about David Brooks? The big op-ed pages aren't just bad, they're utterly irrelevant. Don't read that stuff. Don't discuss it. Don't give it any power. That's exactly how we end up behaving as though something completely straightforward like gun control is "controversial" and therefore inactionable  even though that clearly isn't the case.

This isn't a debate at all.  It's just a straightforward assertion of power by a well-focused and funded single-issue lobby.   Also it is boring and predictable. That it remains boring and predictable in the face of the horrors it enables is an obscenity. Nobody's going to stop that by going on CNN to have meaningful dialog with soulless death merchants.  Sure, it's cathartic to watch Dana Loesch and Marco Rubio get owned by a bunch of teenagers. But, really, that's what they want. It isn't going to shame them into yielding. They get to keep the money they were paid to endure it.  Putting them on the stage and beating the hell out of them just reinforces the conceit that they need to be reckoned with.  They don't. They need to be ignored. This is a dumb argument. And people keep dying because we allow it to go on.

First world problems


What it's like here in the richest nation on Earth where the people and the laws are very civilized and freedom loving and such.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana prison brutally punishes suicidal and mentally ill inmates by isolating them for months or even years, chaining them to wooden chairs and opening windows to expose them to extreme cold, a federal lawsuit claims.

The class action, filed Tuesday, asks the court to rule that prison officials are subjecting inmates at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer to unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment.” It also seeks a court-ordered end to the “extreme, abusive conditions” at the north Louisiana prison.
LOL, very funny, Jeff. You had us going there. But see, that is Louisiana which everybody knows is only technically part of First World America where they have the common decency to let the bounty hunters do all the criminal justice stuff for them

All we do is build nice things for rich people


The "YIMBY" crowd keep shouting up from behind their Econ 101 coloring books that building nice things for rich people inevitably trickles down the price of housing because the God of  SUPPLY AND DEMAND says so.  But that's not really how any of this works.
Demand for luxury apartments is still strong, but that demand is by choice, not necessity. Tenants in luxury buildings are often renting a second or third home or perhaps downsizing from a larger suburban home. They are not struggling to afford the monthly payments.

"In our portfolio, which represents 70,000 units mostly in the luxury space, we're seeing that our renters are spending a relatively low amount of their income on rent despite rents being perceptively high," said Toby Bozzuto, president and CEO of The Bozzuto Group, a multifamily management and development company operating in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. "That being said, it is a tale of two cities. In the middle income and the lower income markets, people are spending proportionally more on their rent — so much so I believe there's an acute crisis headed our way."

Despite rising incomes, nearly half (47 percent) of all renter households (21 million) pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing, including 11 million households paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing, according to a late 2017 report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

"While the market has responded to rental housing needs for higher-income households, there are alarming trends that suggest a growing inability to supply housing that is affordable for middle- and working-class renters, let alone those with very low incomes," said Christopher Herbert, the center's managing director.

"Artwork, lighting or whatever it is"


Ron Forman doesn't sound so sure what the video board was even about here.  But he does make it sound like there might end up being a roof on the ferry walkway after all so that's nice.
Speaking Monday, the Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO Ron Forman acknowledged that the Audubon had requested up to $2 million to "dress up" the bridge with "artwork, lighting or whatever it is." He said that Audubon initially did not want the bridge next to its $200 million aquarium, and that any bridge design should complement the aquarium's aesthetics.

As for a roof, Forman and Manning left the door open Monday night for the bridge to have some sort of overhead covering.

"I don't think there's any reason it can't be covered," Forman said.
Or, at least, it can be covered in some way. 

Start with the fascists in your own streets



These NOPD eyeballs with blue and red flashing light accessories have been going up along the Uptown parade route this week. They're supposed to be monitored in "real time" from a fancy new video lair. It turns out they're only today running at 100 percent of full capacity. Which might explain why I couldn't get anybody to holler back at me the other day despite the fact that  FBI is supposed to be watching social media in coordination with the Real Time camera monitors.  I'll try again once the parades roll. Leave it to New Orleans to build a totalitarian state panopticon but never figure out how get it to work properly. The phrase, "So far behind we're ahead," springs to mind. Then again that may be too much to hope for in this case. 

In all likelihood, the camera provision will be... um... stripped... from the ABO ordinance in order to pass it. In the meantime, Mitch et al will have to stick to their regular program of harassment.  In which case, it falls to the oppressed to push back.
A Jan. 31 press conference about the Bourbon Street infrastructure redevelopment turned cacophonous when a group of gentlemen's club workers and their allies staged a demonstration, drowning out city and tourism officials.

Holding signs that said "Why the celebration?? Strippers are out of work," "We are workers, not political pawns" and simply "Can you not?", a group of at least 70 workers gathered behind officials on the 300 block of Bourbon Street, blocked by a few scattered New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers. As the conference began (and cameras rolled), workers began to chant, rendering officials' statements almost inaudible.

The conference, which was announced late Jan. 30, was called to celebrate progress on the ongoing construction on Bourbon Street and to "remind residents and visitors that [Bourbon Street] is open for business," according to a city press release. But as Department of Public Works director Dani Galloway cited project developments, including completion of major construction on the 100-800 blocks of Bourbon, enhanced water pressure in fire hydrants and other developments meant to improve public safety on the street, workers broke in with chants of "Worker's rights are women's rights," "Their body, their choice" and "Sex work is real work."
There is a mad fascist government in Washington D.C. threatening your rights and your livelihood. That is a scary thing and it is appropriate to be concerned.  But if that feels too big and out of reach for us right now, there are still plenty of arrogant bullies to act against at home.  And they are less difficult to find.

It all moves in a circle


I think I see the problem here.
NOJO Chairman Ron Forman, the broadly respected head of the Audubon Institute, told WWL-TV on May 12 that the NOJO board had agreed to pay all of the Library Foundation money back, as soon as they can raise the money from private donors.

Brown said none of that money has arrived yet, but he is working to craft a written agreement with Forman and NOJO as soon as possible to memorialize the Jazz Orchestra's commitment to pay back the money and so the Library Foundation can budget for a specific amount.
Just a stab in the dark here but it seems like if NOJO could raise the money through only its own donors, they never would have had to raid the library foundation in the first place. Also, there is the problem of this being a small town where the pool of possible donors to any of these non-profits is pretty tight.  Odds are if you're giving to one, you are at least getting pitched to by all of the others.

Sometimes you end up in one of these funny situations where the organization you are donating to this year needs your money to pay back what it stole from the one you gave to last year.  And the odds are Ron Forman is on both boards anyway so that saves a lot of work. It's very convenient.

Jim Henderson is turning down the sound


Jim Henderson is retiring.
Jim Henderson, who has provided impassioned play-by-play as the voice of the New Orleans Saints since for the past 30 years, is retiring from the broadcast booth. Henderson made the announcement Thursday afternoon (Feb. 1) on WWL radio, where he has worked since 1986.

"It's time," the 71-year-old Henderson said. "This is a good year to go out. I will miss our Saints Radio broadcast team; I will miss calling the games.  But, I'm looking forward to experiencing Saints football purely as a fan."
The customary title of the play by play guy for any LOCAL SPORTS TEAM in any market is, "The Voice Of The (LOCAL SPORTS TEAM)"  There are only a few instances where the person referred to in that phrase actually justifies its use.  There was a season back in the early 90s when Henderson did TV work for CBS and the radio broadcast did not even sound like it was a Saints game. Have you seen those old trailers for Star Wars before the John Williams score was added? That's what a Saints game without Henderson sounds like. The whole spirit of the things is different. Gonna be real weird next year.

Crying at work is the new normal


I'd love it if it were possible to boycott the omnipotent leviathan that Amazon has become but I think maybe the better path would be to take some sort of state action against these kinds of abuses. Employees who spoke with Business Insider said the walks have instilled fear across every department of Whole Foods’ stores.“I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares about maps and inventory, and when regional leadership is going to come in and see one thing wrong, and fail the team,” a supervisor at a West Coast Whole Foods said. “The stress has created such a tense working environment. Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.”The maps this employee referenced are diagrams drawn up by Whole Foods’ corporate office that dictate where every item in the store should be placed.“The fear of chastisement, punishment, and retribution is very real and pervasive,” another worker said.Of course that's also not likely to happen. Last I checked our elected representatives were bending over backwards to subsidize the behemoth with public funds. Florida said he admires Amazon as a company and believes some incentives for tech jobs can be a good idea. But he said research suggests that offering big subsidies to large companies rarely drives economic growth, and Florida worries that a new precedent is being set, one in which public officials feel obliged to hand over increasingly larger magnitudes of money to corporations.Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has proposed $5 billion in incentives, while New Jersey has offered a reported $7 billion subsidy deal to bring the company to Newark. Other cities and states have yet to make public their bids; they could be offering even more. Hogan called the Amazon project “the single greatest economic development opportunity in a generation,” for its potential to bring a Fortune 100 corporate nameplate, high-paying jobs and economic growth to the state.“The level of incentives that some communities were talking about were overdoing it and not fiscally prudent,” Florida said. “Even worse, I was worried that the Amazon search was signaling to the environment that megadeals and megadeal competition is the new normal.”As usual, Richard Florida is behind the curve. Public bribes to billionaires isn't the "new normal." It's just normal. Your so called progressive local politicians are likely to call it economic development. LaToya Cantrell's recent campaign for mayor centered around her enthusiasm for offering "incentives" to developers and employers like Amazon. She was quick to tout her role in facilitating the much publicized package handed over to DXC recently. It's not clear just how involved she actually was in that. But her eagerness to take credit tells you something about just how normal it is for your representatives to do these deals with the devil.And, yeah, Amazon is definitely the devil.  Companies love using the latest and greatest technology to keep track of employees, even when they’re at home. But Amazon’s new idea goes to extremes to treat employees like fleshy robots. The Seattle-based company was just granted two patents for employee wristbands that look like something from dystopian science fiction.The two new patents, first spotted by Geekwire, are for wristbands that track where a given warehouse workers’ hands are at all times. You read that correctly. I have seen the future, and it’s just rows and rows of low-paid workers in endless warehouses being told to stop picking their noses. Or to get back from their bathroom break, as it were.People want to let this company fix health care now too.  Sounds like a fantastic idea.  [...]

High deference


A federal judge refused to order a halt to construction on Bayou Bridge.  This isn't the end of the case but there's little reason to expect success. At least that's what the judge says.

Dick said the plaintiffs correctly noted that they didn’t have to “win the case” at this stage. But the judge said she couldn’t justify the “extraordinary remedy” of a temporary restraining order because she isn’t convinced it’s “substantially likely” the groups will “prevail on the merits” of the case.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said in an email Tuesday that “construction activities” began in the basin earlier this month.

Yesterday a letter appeared in the Advocate laying out some of the lawsuit's complaints. Among those, the Corps of Engineers' faulty adherence to its own permitting procedure. 
The Corps must also analyze and address the cumulative impacts of a proposed project. Cumulative impacts are the result of any past, present, or future actions that are reasonably certain to occur. Such effects “can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.”

Leaving spoil banks in place after completion of pipeline construction is a violation of permits issued by the Corps. However, the Corps has failed to enforce such permits; allowing pipeline companies to leave these spoil banks in place for years or decades, to the considerable detriment of the Basin’s ecology. Given budget cuts to all agencies, I’ll speculate there isn’t funding to enforce the law. Permit cost needs to be high enough to pay for verification of compliance. And failure to comply should carry a penalty big enough so it’s cheaper to comply than not.
But, as the judge points out, the Corps tends to get a lot of leeway.
Judge Dick, however, said she reviewed the Corps’ 92-page environmental assessment and “cannot find that the Corps was arbitrary and capricious” in its review.

“Simply having an opposing opinion, or disagreeing with the mitigation plans imposed, is insufficient to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, especially in light of the high deference that the law requires the Court to afford the Corps,” she wrote.
Right now flooded out Houstonians are grappling with the implications of that same high deference. We're already pretty familiar with it ourselves.

What are they there to "assist" with?


The reason the State Police are so valuable (in the mayor's estimation) in policing the French Quarter is they are allowed to get away with more.
But the proceedings opened a window into the disparate rule books governing the State Police and the New Orleans Police Department. The NOPD is subject to a strict federal consent decree that forbids racial profiling and allows officers to make investigatory stops only when they have "reasonable suspicion that a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in the commission of a crime."

The State Police began patrolling the French Quarter on a regular basis in 2014 following a high-profile shooting on Bourbon Street that killed one woman and wounded nine people. Since then, troopers have assisted the NOPD in seizing weapons and drugs and investigated a host of other crimes at a time when the NOPD has struggled to recruit new officers.

"We were never told not to do our job," Edmonson said in a recent deposition. City officials, he added, "clearly knew what we brought to the table" when they requested assistance patrolling the French Quarter. 
There is an expectation right now that the NOPD consent decree may be coming to an end soon. At which time they can go back to doing their own bullying and harassing of citizens without consequence and the State Police "assistance" is likely to end. 

Republican legislators love the fiscal cliff


They don't really care if the state is solvent or not. They do care about making sure their wealthiest patrons don't have to pay taxes.  And they love using any resulting crisis as an excuse to slash Medicaid benefits.

It is going to be another fun special session.