Saturday, December 18, 2010

You Can't Do That to a White Man!

I guess this counts as my inaugural contribution to the Hostilidays.

Merry Christmas! dammit.

From, 12-14-10: "A bus driver in Champaign-Urbana, IL resigned after officials with the transit agency saw this video of his bus running over a snowman in the middle of a street. Another vehicle steered around the snowman just before the bus hit it."

Proving yet again that the primary purpose of our American systems and institutions is still to ensure the protection and privileges of white men. *ba doom, rimshot*

Friday, December 03, 2010

Landrieu & Vitter Silent on Taxes and Unemployment Benefits

I couldn't help but notice that LA's Senators are strangely quiet about the two biggest Congressional issues plastered all over the news this week: extending tax cuts for the wealthy and extending unemployment benefits. Neither Sen. Landrieu nor Sen. Vitter have even so much as a one-sentence press release regarding these issues on their websites.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Turns Out Rust Colored Water Probably Not So Good After All

This always happens when I can't sleep. I lie in bed checking my CrackBerry and come across something that angers or excites me leaving me even more awake. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, but alas, I am just as human as you are.

This time the culprit was a brand spanking new study showing that exposure to the substance manganese found in groundwater is linked, for perhaps the first time, to IQ deficits in children. "Yawn." I know. Big deal considering exposure to the current sociopolitical climate is making all of us more stupid by the day.

Then I suffered (because insomnia IS suffering) the thought that woke me up. Even though I can't find it anywhere online, I swear I saw a recent news story about rust colored water in St. Tammany Parish homes. I'm almost certain a spokesman in that story said it was probably because of the high levels of manganese in the area and that while the water looks weird, the manganese is harmless. An online document from the St. Tammany Parish government website calls manganese "a nontoxic substance" (see Why Is My Water Discolored on page 2).

Maybe not:
Lead author Maryse Bouchard explains, "We found significant deficits in the intelligence quotient (IQ) of children exposed to higher concentration of manganese in drinking water. Yet, manganese concentrations were well below current guidelines."

The analyses of the association between manganese in tap water and children's IQ took into account various factors such as family income, maternal intelligence, maternal education, and the presence of other metals in the water. For co-author Donna Mergler, "This is a very marked effect; few environmental contaminants have shown such a strong correlation with intellectual ability." The authors state that the amount of manganese present in food showed no relationship to the children's IQ.

The difference in IQ was 6 points. To put that in some perspective, the current black-white IQ gap for 12-year-olds in America is approximately 9.5 points. That realization then led me to ponder the strength of the environment-over-genetics argument for the gap in racial achievement in the U.S., and you better believe that thought REALLY had me wide awake! That's going to have to be a whole other series of posts for another day.

There was definitely no sleeping after that because now I had to get up out of bed the children. So I just emailed Tammany Utilities to alert them to this. In their defense, as indicated in the research article, while airborne exposure to manganese is harmful to adults and children, manganese in the levels present in groundwater in North America has heretofore not been widely known to be a neurotoxin. Lots of other public water systems need to take heed too.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: the next time some snot-nosed, smart aleck kid mouths off at you, smile and offer them a nice glass of water.

Filtered water, people! What kind of an animal do you think I am?!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Olbermann Tired of News, Wants to Star on SNL

I was so disgusted when I saw this horseshit on a "news" network tonight. Following the clip is the email I had to write to MSNBC just to get this crap off my chest.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maybe your skit of Keith being the voice speaking to Glenn Beck was supposed to be a lighthearted aside from the news, but it seemed like a new low to me. It's symptomatic of what's wrong with cable news. Correcting the lies on Fox & conservative radio is one thing, but do it like a respectable journalist would. And do it with actual NEWS, not childish skits. MSNBC has become a total joke.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like After Katrina, Outside Folks Getting the Disaster Contracts

The fine folk over at The Lens informed the citizenry today that "Gulf Coast states lag behind other states in getting contracts for oil disaster work." Only 12% of the $53.3 million in federal oil-spill related contracts have gone to Louisiana companies. Most of the rest of that has been contracted to companies in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Colorado -- not to other Gulf Coast states suffering the direct environmental and socioeconomic consequences of this disaster.

People in other states need work too, and it seems quite plausible to me that some of corporations best able to execute the particular terms of some contracts are not Gulf Coast business. Maybe many Gulf Coast businesses were already at full capacity due to having already received state or local contracts or contracts directly from BP to do disaster-related work.

My point is I just don't know enough about the details to know whether we're getting shafted down here in the federal contracting game for this disaster. I do know, based on past experience, that we need to dig deeper into this before it becomes like the Katrina recovery in which local workers were brazenly left out of the citizen driven recovery we were promised. That is, if it's not too late. I blogged about it on 9/16/2006, and I'm going to be quite pissed if this sort of thing is happening again...
The Army Corps, Bechtel and Halliburton are using the very same "contract vehicles" in the Gulf Coast as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" open-ended "contingency" contracts that are being abused by the contractors on the Gulf Coast to squeeze out local companies. These are also "cost-plus" contracts that allow them to collect a profit on everything they spend, which is an incentive to overspend. [, 8/17/2006]

...and we were supposed to have learned our lesson so that our federal government could protect us from shady contract deals.

I hope that last part didn't make you laugh TOO HARD.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Levine Admits Republicans Don't Know Much About Health Care

This is from today's Times-Picayune, page A-6:

"The shortest book in the world is, 'Republicans that I've known and met that know a lot about health care,' " Levine said. "And so there's been a lot of candidates for governor or state legislators from various states who reach out and call and ask, 'What are some of the basics? What are some of the real hot issues from a health policy standpoint?' " [T-P, 7-18-2010]
I guess that explains why Congressional Republicans weren't able to come up with sensible remedies to our nation's health care problems, and why the ones they keep insisting on proposing are often...well...shitty.

The T-P article also offered some insight as to why Levine has overseen the decimation of mental health care services in Louisiana. It seems he might not have known what the hell was going on down here because, like his bossman Bobby, he's been too busy traveling the country instead of doing the job we've paid him six figures to do here at home.
"LA Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine...has been busy doling out policy advice to Republican political candidates around the country,"

"In recent weeks he's written a health care "white paper" for the Republican Governors Association, addressed Republican U.S. House members about the effects of the new health care law on the states, and spent a day in California recently with policy advisers to Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running for chief executive of the Golden State." and said he hopes to continue doing so through the 2012 presidential cycle." [T-P, 7-18-2010]
So cut the guy some slack, y'all! He didn't KNOW that our children's psychological well-being was in the terlet. How was he to know? He wasn't even here! So lay off of him, people!

The upshot for Alan is that he has used all of these connections he's been busy cultivating to land a posh private sector job back home in Florida, now that he's done fucking the good people of Louisiana over. Way to go, Al! Best Wishes!

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Top 5 Hurricane Vulnerable & Overdue Cities"

From the The Weather Channel:

"(New Orleans, Gulfport-Biloxi, Galveston and Houston are examples of locations not on this list because they've recently been severely hit.)

While certainly not an exhaustive list, the following five metropolitan areas have been selected based on a combination of the amount of people and property at high risk, and how long it has been since the area has been directly affected by a very strong hurricane. It is a matter of when, not if, these areas are struck next."

Drumroll, please...

#5 Atlantic City, NJ

#4 Savannah, GA

#3 Tampa Bay

#2 New York City, NY

#1 Miami / Ft. Lauderdale

And just to show that they care about your safety if you live in these areas, The Weather Channel has posted links to evacuation maps for each of these locales.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why Is Jindal Taking Our Money?

I just read two news reports that share an interesting common thread. The first story involves the dissolution of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, formed after Katrina to guide the state in its expenditure of federal recovery dollars:
HB1173 would have required legislative approval of proposals and contracts for the use of more than $50,000 in recovery dollars while HB1175 would have allowed parishes to seek alternative uses for allocated recovery funds. Under opposition from the Jindal administration, neither bill won final passage.[Louisiana New Link].

With the dissolution of the LRA, the Jindal administration essentially is allowed to write a blank check on the remaining funds"[]
The second story is about how Jindal wants to hold on to the money the state has gotten from BP and prefers that the affected coastal parishes go obtain any money BP owes them on their own.:

Gov. Bobby Jindal unleashed his veto pen late Friday, nixing lawmakers’ attempt to direct $24.9 million to parishes and small towns affected by the oil leak...In his veto message, Jindal said BP should pay the municipalities directly for the impact of the April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Left unnoted in Jindal’s veto message was the fact that the money legislators wanted to give to the municipalities comes from a fund fattened by a grant from BP. The Jindal administration wants state agencies to have use of the money. “If it’s acceptable use for state government, then why isn’t acceptable for local governments?” said state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, who co-sponsored the amendment that would have diverted much of the BP money in the state’s Oil Spill Contingency Fund to help 11 coastal parishes and the towns of Lafitte and Grand Isle. []

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Ain't Nobody Gonna Wanna Eat an Oirly Crab"

Wise commercial fisherman Oliver Rodesil aptly summed up the latest predicament facing south Louisiana (at about the 2:00 mark). Definitely the quote of the day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Now Learn the Reverse Jindal Two-Step

In my previous post, I taught y'all how to do the Jindal Two-Step. Now I'm going to show you the Reverse Jindal Two-Step. You may recall that in the simple Jindal Two-Step you do something THEN you claim you're not doing that exact same thing. The Reverse Jindal Two-Step is merely the same thing except backwards:

1) DON'T do something (or say you're not going to do that thing):

Governor Jindal said: Unlike Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Mexico, which all assumed in their budgets that FMAP aid would be extended for their states - this budget does not anticipate federal relief for FMAP, out of an abundance of caution. [, 2/15/2010]

2) Then do that thing you told the world you would not do:
By relying on a federal bailout to solve the 2010-11 budget deficit, Jindal is courting potential opposition from legislators who might be leery of using that money until Congress has acted. [T-P, 4/17/2010]
As you can see, you'll add flair and pizazz to the first part of this dance move if you also criticize others for doing something that you'll turn right around and do yourself. Try out these moves at your next Fais Do Do. It'll be a hit! Let me know how it works out.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Learn the Jindal Two-Step

Here's how you do the Jindal Double-Talkin' Two-Step:
1) Do something:
[LA Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek said:] “While the governor’s proposed budget does not dedicate state funding to support teacher stipends... [, 3/7/2010]

2) Then claim you're not doing the very thing you're doing:
...our Nationally Board Certified Teachers will receive their annual $5,000 stipend through their local school districts.”[, 3/7/2010]

To sum up, Jindal and Pastorek would have us believe that even though the Governor hasn't included money for teachers' stipends in his budget like he did last time, he's not the one cutting teachers' stipends because the local school districts have these surpluses they can use to pay the bonus stipends. Unfortunately, the local school districts beg to disagree:
Local school board officials counter that without the traditional annual cost-of-living bump, Jindal’s proposed standstill MFP saddles them with increases in a variety of costs such as health care and retirement... John Dilworth [Superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System] wrote a letter to The Advocate’s editor Thursday challenging the validity of Pastorek’s numbers. He says declines in revenues, such as sales taxes from which the public schools receive much of their money, are being offset by the surplus. Dilworth does not commit to paying the stipends. [, 3/7/2010]

If this song-and-dance seem familiar to you, it may be because you remember that Gov. Jindal dispatched his minions to try and pass the same okee-doke routine over on us when they closed NOAH and cut inpatient psych services while claiming that they weren't cutting services at all.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Message to the City of New Orleans

I found these tips on The Little Rules of Action on Zen and have found them personally helpful to me. Thus, I would like to share the goodness, particularly with the incoming administration and the N.O. City Council. They can ignore the tip about not getting bogged down in perfectionism. They've long mastered that one. The following three, however, are relevant:

1. Meetings aren’t action . This is a common mistake in management. They hold meetings to get things done. Meetings, unfortunately, almost always get in the way of actual doing. Stop holding those meetings! [except for the ones required by law, of course].

2. Talking (usually) isn’t action. Well, unless the action you need to take is a presentation or speech or something. Or you’re a television broadcaster. But usually, talking is just talking. Communication is necessary, but don’t mistake it for actual action.

3. Planning isn’t action. Sure, you need to plan. Do it, so you’re clear about what you’re doing. Just do it quickly, and get to the actual action as quickly as you can.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jindal, OMH Decimating Outpatient Psych Services Too

Remember back when Gov. Jindal, DHH Secretary Alan Levine, and top OMH officials assured us that by closing New Orleans Adolescent Hospital (NOAH) they were freeing up $14 million to "improve much-needed outpatient services"? I can't help but assume that money never made it down to the outpatient clinics I work at everyday because no one in Baton Rouge wants to even pay for us to have voicemail, and it's not because they're paying to lease clinic space after removing us from the space we had at NOAH. The lease at our cramped new digs is $0 where, incidentally, they have consolidated so many employees that the power goes out 3-5 times a day from the now overloaded circuits. Try faxing in a prescription authorization to pharmacies when the power goes out whenever you hit "Send," or when that telephone/fax line periodically goes dead. When I receive a call, I have to walk down the hall because we can't transfer calls to each other despite being in the same building; and while I'm on the phone, no one else can call. OK, actually that's not true. People can still call us but that call goes immediately to a voicemail system that no one from here to Baton Rouge can tell us how to access. All we can do is hope none of those are urgent, which is a fantasy since we serve very ill, troubled youths. Actual assistance or a simple acknowledgment of these problems from OMH are also fantasies much of the time.

We serve the same number of clients even though we have fewer therapists. They left because they were fed up with this sort of foolishness, but they won't be replaced because of Jindal's hiring freeze even though the state has already budgeted for those positions just like they budgeted for all that money closing NOAH was supposed to free up.

Working at a place where your co-workers, even some of the ones making close to six figures, openly discuss finding a new job and share job leads with one another can be nerve-racking. That sort of stress will complicate any job but especially when your job is helping others deal with their own constant psychological stress.

A story about continuing cuts to healthcare in Louisiana is, interestingly, posted to a web page titled Accidents & Disasters. I fear we'll being seeing more of those in the near future. Not just the spectacular, front-page headline kind, but also the excruciating, painful type of tragedy that slowly and quietly ruins families' lives. If you need an example, think of the economic and social ruin left in the wake of an Orleans Parish school system starved of basic necessities. Talk to anyone now in the position of trying to provide state-funded services within LA's Office of Mental Health(OMH). Ask them how employee morale is these days. I should know. I am one of them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

LA Legislators Think About Doing Something

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Legislative leaders are expressing concern about the cuts to health-care programs in the governor’s $24.2 billion proposed state operating budget.

However, members of House and Senate budget committees said they do not have an alternative spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, said there still is time for legislators to develop their own agenda. [Advocate, 2-18-2010]

Umm, yeah, y'all might want to get crackin' on that.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Lie, Jeff Crouere

This fetish that old school local white people have with blaming Moon Landrieu for the fall of New Orleans continues to fascinate me. It is both amusing and sad, and it lives on as displayed by a recent piece by Jeff Crouere.

"Since the beginning of the Moon Landrieu administration, the population of New Orleans has declined by approximately 300,000 people, going from over 600,000 in the early 70’s to just over 300,000 today."[Jeff Crouere,, 1-22-2010]

A quick Google search yields numerous hits showing Census numbers which placed New Orleans' population at 627,525 in 1960 and 593,471 in 1970. The population began its decline before Moon Landrieu took office in 1970 and was already below 600,000 by then. Also, I wasn't even born yet, but I do know that urban decline was a national phenomenon during that time that can hardly be blamed on Moon Landrieu. In addition to New Orleans, a number of cities' populations peaked between 1950 and 1960 followed by a precipitous loss of people since then, among them: San Francisco, Oakland, Birmingham, Mobile, Hartford, New Haven, D.C., Augusta, Savannah, Chicago, Gary, Des Moines, Sioux City, Louisville, Baltimore, Boston...I think you get the point. Jeff Crouere, however, apparently does not.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Faith in Haiti

These don't look like the devil-deal making type of folks Pat Robertson made them out to be. Over the course of history, many Protestants have looked askance at the Catholic religion and our "idolatry"; and I wonder if that sort of thinking is also the source of Pat Robertson's ridiculous statements since Haiti is 80% Roman Catholic. But I tell you this, I and most people I know, regardless of our religions, would choose to have the faith displayed in this video by the people of Haiti any day of the week over that of Pat Robertson's.

Also, as a Katrina survivor, I want people to know that then, just as now and despite the media focus on a "breakdown of society," most people pull together and do not descend into chaos. Please don't mistake anguished pleas for help, whether to God or to the cameraman, as a sign of impending chaos -- especially if you've never found yourself in such a situation. Just hush your mouth, show some compassion, and do something to help even if it's just a prayer or sending a check to get relief on the ground.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just Shut Up, Chief Riley

"Riley said the recent release of a poll - showing that only 33 percent of citizens are satisfied with the NOPD - was timed to dissuade him from entering politics. The poll was unveiled by business leaders shortly before the political qualifying period. Riley also alleged The Times-Picayune chose that week to release several negative stories about him." [T-P, 1/10/2010]

Chief Riley,
You can bitch and moan all you want, which you're exceptionally good at by the way, but I would like to say to you from one black man to another that you're so missing the boat if you think the timing of that poll and those news stories were to dissuade you from running for office. Besides, we all know you're aware that the local media runs negative stories about you year-round because you're constantly complaining about it year-round.

What should have dissuaded you from entering politics is the fact nobody, including the scores of black citizens who have lost their children to murder and crime and/or who have been harassed, hassled, and unjustifiably arrested by NOPD, wants to vote for your ass. Period.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Here's an Idea for Improving Student Test Scores

$150 million for improving accountability measures?

If Louisiana is selected by the U.S. Department of Education for the grants, about half the money would be distributed to districts to help with programs aimed at helping the poorest performing schools improve their rankings and student test results. Stronger accountability measures and teacher evaluations would be part of the process. [T-P, 1-9-2010]

I'm all for accountability, but here's an idear: How about spending the money on mental health services and more special education resources like more individualized supports, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy or on-campus health clinics or supports for parents to help their kids do better in school -- you know, all of the things that research has actually shown to help kids perform better in school.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Where is the Stimulus Money for RSD Students?

A recent T-P article raised questions about the shortage of teachers and services in RSD's schools. RSD maintains it has a sufficient amount of teachers, but I can vouch from my ongoing interaction with RSD on behalf of my clients -- or lack thereof to be more precise -- that not only are there not enough staff available, but that RSD is standing firm its resolve to not provide staffing and services that even Stevie Wonder could see is needed.

In that Dec. 26th article, RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas said:
"We actually have not downsized staff as much as some of our budget and finance people would have liked," he said. The district had a pot of one-time federal recovery money three years ago that is now largely gone. [T-P, 12/26/09]
Funding shouldn't be the main barrier because in July 2009, the state enthusiastically announced the dedication of stimulus funds to servicing at-risk students:

The flow-through funding that will be dispersed to Louisiana through stimulus funds over the next two years almost doubles the funding that districts would have received for at-risk students. This funding represents a significant increase for local districts, and I know we are all eager to see that we take full advantage of this opportunity.”

In addition to the recommendations developed by the Tiger Team, the Department has also developed an Accountability Document, which it will utilize to track the use of ARRA funds in each district. Each district’s Accountability Document will be updated and published by the Department on a quarterly basis.[LA Division of Administration press release, 7/7/2009]

In fact, teams of local school superintendents, called Tiger Teams and tasked with compiling the state’s blueprint for the effective use of stimulus funds, stated at the time:

Our state will receive almost double the regular federal allocations through ARRA. More than 372 million dollars will flow through to districts to help improve student achievement, statewide. [Tiger Team Recommendations]
Those recommendations also said: something, something, "Recruit and retain teachers," something, something, whatever.I'm paraphrasing, of course. Hey, Mr. Vallas, would you mind checking your notes and getting back to us with another excuse? Here, I'll even help. Look in the file labeled: "Meetings, Tiger Team."