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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OCT 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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