Monday, April 1, 2013 Written by IND Monthly Staff
C’EST BON Treating marijuana like cocaine and methamphetamine has had hugely unnecessary social and fiscal costs for American communities since the War on Drugs ramped up a few decades ago. Nearly half of the roughly 1.5 million drug arrests annually in the U.S. are for marijuana possession, and the cost of enforcing marijuana laws and incarcerating pot smokers is enormous: an estimated $5.5 billion annually. This is arguably even more germane to Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. But a sensible bill by New Orleans Democratic Rep. Austin Badon addresses this issue. Badon’s House Bill 103 amends the criminal penalties for second and subsequent pot possession offenses, slashing the maximum jail time defendants face, and prevents prosecutors from applying habitual offender statutes to people convicted of marijuana possession. Long overdue. Now here’s hoping the bill gets a serious hearing on April 20.
PAS BON Badon’s colleague in the House, Republican Frank Hoffmann of West Monroe, is at it again. The chief water boy for the Louisiana Family Forum has again filed a bill, HB 116, that would effectively neuter the state school board in its oversight of textbooks used in public schools in Louisiana. The LFF is a well-known proponent of setting Intelligent Design — creationism in a lab coat, in other words — right beside Darwinian evolution in biology classrooms, and getting the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education out of the text-selection equation is a nice place to start. Hoffmann’s bill among other things takes that authority away from BESE and gives it to local school boards, opening the door for Louisiana’s more evangelical parishes to introduce stunningly unscientific curricula into science classes. Sorry guys, but dinosaurs and homo sapiens — ermahgerd we said homo! — were not contemporaries. A similar bill filed in the 2011 session withered on the vine. We hope this one does, too.
COUILLON There’s a Democrat in the White House, and he’s black, probably socialist and possibly Muslim. If that ain’t a Petri dish for cultivating crazy, we don’t know what is. Just check out the creeping fungus known as the SOAR (Save Our American Republic) Project, a bunch of Bible-thumping “patriots” pushing lawmakers — any lawmaker — to sponsor in the upcoming session the Louisiana Balance of Powers Act, a law that would give the Pelican State the “authority” to ignore federal law because, you know, guns and FEMA Death Cathedrals and stuff. Nary a state suckles Uncle Sam’s hammy man-teat more than Louisiana, but hey — don’t matter. As of this writing no lawmakers have pre-filed a bill along those lines, but the SOAR Project did find a compatriot in the “oath-keeping” sheriff of Iberia Parish. In a full-page ad in The Iberian, the SOAR Project thanks Louis Ackal — and reproduces his endorsement letter — for “Taking a Stand Against a Tyrannical Federal Government.” Citing an absence of [the Christian] religion in public places, Obamacare and the dire threat to the 2nd Amendment occasioned by background checks, Ackal vows to “defend the citizens of my parish from unconstitutional abuse or harassment by federal agents.” We wish him well in that noble endeavor. By noble endeavor we mean paranoia.
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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