Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Written by The Independent Weekly

When a bipartisan think tank, summoned by President Barack Obama, issues a report calling for an end to the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, we think we can see the handwriting on the wall. The study by the Bipartisan Policy Center stated that the administration has put rules into place that “provide an adequate margin of safety to responsibly allow the resumption of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.” The rules include immediate requirements over blowout preventers, and also call for third-party certification of the equipment and other verification. The seven-member board included a representative from the Environmental Defense Fund, who supports the center’s findings. When the oil industry and the environmental community lie down like lions with lambs we see a rare harmony in the energy sector that indicates even the skeptics among us support deep water drilling. However, it remains for the Obama administration to take action to lift the band. As Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, who had introduced legislation to end the moratorium, told The Advocate, “It’s only good news if they act upon it.”

Now that 3rd Congressional District hopefuls Hunt Downer and Jeff Landry are in a runoff, expect a sling-off between now and Oct. 2 — as in mud slinging. In a surprisingly acrimonious primary campaign by the two Republicans, both of them attorneys and military veterans, the pair took to each other’s throats with unbridled gusto. While Landry delivered the deepest gash by characterizing Downer as a “pro-gay trial lawyer” (a downer indeed if you’re Republican), Downer hasn’t been shy about firing back. The pair has a lot in common, notably opposition to virtually every initiative of the Obama administration, but they’ve pulled no punches with each other. Expect amplified antipathy for the next month. And when the Oct. 2 runoff is done and a winner emerges, the Democrat waiting on the other side for the Nov. 2 election, Ravi Sangisetty of Houma, better be ready: If Landry and Downer are willing to treat a fellow Republican this way, wait until they set their hands on a Democrat.

The same week Baton Rouge’s Advocate newspaper garnered a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its series on police mistreatment of Katrina evacuees, the paper was evicted from the press room at City Hall — a room named for a longtime Advocate reporter. BR Mayor Kip Holden, our couillon in this affair, insists the eviction of Advocate staffers from the Gibbs Adams Memorial Press Room adjacent to the mayor’s office and across the hall from where the Metro Council meets had nothing to do with an Advocate story published the day before questioning the city’s surveillance camera and gunshot detector systems. The press room was occupied by two reporters, one who covers 19th Judicial District Court and another who covers city-parish government, including Holden’s office. Holden has also has blamed The Advocate for turning voters against last fall’s $900 million bond proposal (despite that the paper twice editorialized in favor of it). Holden claims his office simply needs the space. It smells like petty retribution to us.

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