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Racism means no, money, no drainage

Racism means no, money, no drainage

Racism plagues the New Orleans drainage system.

Originally posted to  r/NewOrleans

Racism
A. Baldwin Wood (left), inventor of the wood-screw pump (photo 1)

Drainage and Racism

As we travel once again into the realm of drainage solutions butthurtia, let’s discuss why whyte people get so indignant and angry whenever it rains.
Meet A. Baldwin Wood, inventor of the wood-screw pump. His invention facilitated the drainage of the city for decades. Those pumps were built in the 1910s and 1920s. They were expected to last for fifty-ish years. So, what happened fifty years later?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 happened. Whyte people ran from Orleans Parish to the suburbs. The remaining ones pulled their kids out of public schools in the city, enrolling them in Catholic schools. Those schools were able to continue de jure segregation, protected by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Since they were paying tuition, they didn’t want to pay property tax. That shifted the burden of paying for city services to businesses. Those folks had the money to donate to political campaigns, making sure their property taxes didn’t go up.

“I’m not paying more taxes to give to a black mayor who will misspend it and steal it.”

They said that when Dutch took office in 1978.
They said that when Sidney took office in 1986.
They said that when Marc took office in 1994.
They said that when Ray took office in 2002.
When Mitch took office in 2010, whyte people blamed his daddy for encouraging black people to vote in his first mayoral election in 1971.

All the while, businesses did what they always do, shift the burdens to the residents. Whyte people in the suburbs sat, waiting for the city to tank. Their dream was to have the city fall apart under majority black governance, then step in with regional control. David Vitter led this movement in 2004 with the Recovery School District. By then, Orleans Parish Public Schools were in such a state that the Legislature mustered the votes to take over. The plan was to transition the black-managed schools to charters. (Hurricane Katrina accelerated this like nobody expected.)

The pumps today

racism
Melpomene Pumping Station, named for Baldwin Wood (photo 2)

Back to drainage. Those pumps from the 1920s were in need of replacement by the 1970s. Suburban whyte people missed the boat on where the city anchors the suburbs, not the other way around. As the revenue base in Orleans Parish eroded, the suburban parishes refused to help. They wanted black folks to give control back to them. Regional solutions weren’t going to happen–shit, Jefferson Parish wouldn’t even join the Regional Transit Authority, lest a robust bus system bring more black people near their homes. Republicans in the suburbs wouldn’t pony up to fix the city’s drainage. Federal solutions under Republican presidents weren’t likely, either.
Now, it’s 2023. Louis Armstrong was a twelve-year-old boy selling newspapers on Canal Street when Baldwin Wood’s pumps were installed. They’re still in operation (sort of). Saying you won’t give money to Cantrell because she’s corrupt (translation: she’s Black) is silly. She didn’t create the problem, and wouldn’t have the funds to fix it even if she didn’t travel to Europe and the Emirates.

Reddit downvotes won’t drain the water. Working in the suburbs to affect change in the attitudes of elected officials will.
(h/t to James Karst for the factoid about Pops)

Maybe it’s a camera?

Maybe it’s a camera?

Is it a gun or a camera?

Maybe it’s a camera

I found this meme on Da Twittah. So, I shared it on Zuckerbook. I figured it would give folks a chuckle. That plan sort of backfired. Many people who follow me saw a gun here.

It’s not a gun. It’s a camera, on a tripod. A lot of photographers take a rig like this and throw it over their shoulder to move from, say, one room or building to another. Moving the camera while assembled speeds up their work day. You don’t have to break down the equipment, pack it, move, then re-assemble.

We see what we want to see

If it looks like a gun, it must be one, right? Think again. How many times have we read about someone getting shot for holding a toy, or even a mobile device. The cop explains, they thought they saw a gun. They reacted as if their lives were in danger.

Guess what liberals? You just did the same thing here. Your brain processed this image as a weapon. You might even have the same reaction as the cop.

Words are important

Some folks stopped looking at this image when they read the caption. It says, “Give me ONE reason why any civilian needs access to something like this.”

How about because they’re taking pictures of their kid’s soccer game? They’re a bird- or (like me) a train-watcher. It’s a feckin camera.

But you didn’t pause to consider that. Your mind said “gun.” The caption implies “gun.” You don’t like guns. You think people should have guns.

When it comes to guns, you’re not wrong. Thing is, this isn’t a gun. You need to work on your critical thinking.

But…but…but

Then there are the double-downers. One person on Instagram commented on this. I suggested they look again. Their reply was that people shouldn’t set up a camera so it looks like a gun. Doubling down on an error is rarely a good idea. When your double-down is particularly stupid, well, that’s when I mute/delete/block.

 

 

Buried Bankruptcy Lede

Buried Bankruptcy Lede

The buried bankruptcy lede in Da Paper is the motivations of plaintiff/creditor attorneys. Featured photo is of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, courtesy Infrogmation.

buried bankruptcy lede

Corner stone of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 3200 Canal Street. Infrogmation photo.

Buried Bankruptcy Lede

Da Paper did a page one (print) story on the real estate sales the Archdiocese of New Orleans submitted to bankruptcy court. The article (online but paywalled) lists seven properties the Archdiocese wants to sell and have been approved by the court. The article’s headline, describing these properties as “vast” is hyperbolic nonsense. While movement on the bankruptcy is indeed news, these sales aren’t the important part of the story. The buried bankruptcy lede is the issue of new plaintiffs and increasing attorney profits.

What’s for sale

buried bankruptcy lede

St. Jude Community Center, 400 N. Rampart Street.

The big-ticket items here are the St Jude Community Center and Sacred Heart Church on Canal Street. the Community Center, located at 400 N. Rampart Street, is the “parish building” for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. It currently functions as a social services hub and food pantry for the neighborhood. Operations there are affiliated with Second Harvest, the regional food bank owned by Catholic Charities.

The other big item here is Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Canal Street. The parish was founded in 1879. The first church stood at 3200 Canal until 1924. The parish built the current church next to the original. When it was completed, they demolished the original church. The parish built the current school building in its place.

The Archdiocese sold the school building years ago. The school, Sacred Heart High (not to be confused with Sacred Heart Academy on St. Charles Avenue) re-organized as Seton Academy in the 1980s. That school merged with Redeemer High School in Gentilly. The merged school, Redeemer-Seton High School, continued in Gentilly until Katrina. The archdiocese sold the school building. It is now the “3222 Canal Apartments.”

Impact of these sales

While these properties will boost the coffers of the Archdiocese, there are bills to be paid. The bankruptcy is in its third year now. The archdiocese retains outside counsel and an outside accounting firm to oversee the myriad of legal activities and financial reports required for reorganization. A significant amount of the proceeds from these real estate sales will go to paying the lawyers and accountants.

The attorneys for clergy sex abuse victims know this. It’s problematic for them, because they’re working on contingency. Chapter 11 proceedings rolled up all the lawsuits against the archdiocese into the overall action. So, the victims are just creditors now. They hold the same status as the water service and coffee service companies that had outstanding invoices at the time of the filing.

Expanding the victim base

That’s the buried bankruptcy lede. Riegel mentions it in passing in the article. The plaintiff attorneys, seeking new clients and new fee potential, want the court to allow new lawsuits against the archdiocese. want the court to allow new lawsuits, based on a 2021 law passed by the state legislature. That law permits claims from years, even decades ago. The law is a part of a current trend to bring sexual assaulters to justice. A related New York State law enabled E. Jean Carroll to take action against Donald Trump.

The crux of the current argument is, should the federal court recognize new claims based on the state law. Bankruptcy cases usually “ban” new lawsuits during the reorganization phase.The theory is, creditors want to see the entity re-organize, so they can recoup some of what they’re owed.

That’s not the case here. There are two groups at odds with the archdiocese who don’t want it to re-organize. The victims share the assets as of the bankruptcy. It’s not clear how much cash the court requires for this. Since the lawyers work on contingency, their share of these settlements won’t be what they desire.

More plaintiffs expand the payout pool. The lawyers receive the same percentages, but on a higher total amount.

Outrage Reporting

Plaintiff lawyers nurture outrage reporting. They’re loving the coverage of Fr. Lawrence Hecker, the 90-something-year-old priest who admits to raping kids. The lawyers leverage the publicity to draw out victims who haven’t spoken up prior to now. So, more victims means more plaintiffs means higher fees. This case has no doubt been a serious financial drain on the lawyers. This became evident when a plaintiff lawyer leaked sealed documents relating to the archdiocese’s finances to the press, which earned him a half-million-dollar fine.

Or maybe not. The other group of people involved here are folks who want to burn the Catholic Church to the ground. I mean, their anger and pain is certainly understandable. The problem here is that bankruptcy law doesn’t know how to handle this grief. In most cases, creditors either want a re-organization, or they want the assets transferred to an entity that will turn things around.

Burning it down

There’s no transferring the church to another entity. It’s not like the Episcopalians or Methodists can just absorb Catholic parishes. The “burn it down” faction wants to put the archdiocese totally out of business. They desire perpetual proceedings here. The more money the archdiocese spends on lawyers and accountants, the more they have to close churches and schools to raise funds. This faction wants to see it all razed.

At some point, however, the burn-it-down group hits the lawyers head-on. While the archdiocese does have assets to sell, the lawyers need settlements. Look for more leaks from these folks as their sense of urgency grows.

Bringing it to an end

The judge wants this case closed. Being party to the destruction of the Catholic church in a city as Catholic as New Orleans is bad politics. It’s also bad business. If the bankruptcy judge allows further asset liquidation, it won’t be open-ended.

 

 

Broussard Water

Broussard Water

Katrina – Broussard Water caused over $1B in damage in 2005.

broussard water

Metairie, Louisiana: flooding on Veterans Boulevard near Clearview after Hurricane Katrina. 30 Aug 2005, via Commons user LSUSoccerbum

Broussard Water

We monitored Hurricane Katrina in the days before the storm’s landfall. As a family, we were weren’t the people who evacuate regularly. Between small children and pets, the process of putting everything in the car and leaving seemed more of a challenge than staying. So, it was a Big Deal on the morning of 28-August-2005, when we decided to leave the house in Metairie. I texted a friend in Shreveport and they welcomed us with open arms. That first night was fitful. The next day was just horrible, since we were 300 miles away.

The news focused on the water coming into the city, particularly from the breach in the 17th Street Canal floodwall. It was an ugly sight. Before moving to Metairie, we lived in Gentilly. Hearing that Lakeview and Gentilly was filling up with ten to fiften feet of water was heartbreaking. The one consolation, though, was that canal breach was on the eastern side. The water wasn’t going to our house.

Pumping Stations

I should have been more concerned when I heard Parish President Aaron Broussard on the radio on 28-August. Like most New Orleanians during a crisis, we had the radio tuned to WWL-AM (870) as we made our way North. Thing is, bumper to bumper traffic, stressed-out kids, and a cat full of anxiety tend to be distractions. Still, I heard the red flags.

Aaron Broussard had lost it. He melted down right there on the phone with the radio station, telling the feds to bring down 10.000 body bags for the aftermath of the storm. He begged folks to leave. It was, well, unhinged is an overused word, but it’s a good description. Fucking crazy would be better.

I’m not sure if Broussard said he was evacuating the crews for the pumping stations at the outfall canals in the parish on the radio. The guy who wanted those body bags ordered the crews that manned those stations onto trucks. They bailed north, heading to Washington Parish.

After the storm

The levees held in Metairie. While water drowned the city, the suburbs held together. That’s when things went wrong. Catch basins in the streets channeled water into drainage pipes which led to the canals. When they got to the canals, though, the mechanism to get the water out of the streets and into the lake shut down. Nobody was at the pumping stations to turn the pumps back on. Those crews were in Washington Parish. The water filled the canals, then backed up into the pipe, into the streets, up the lawns of houses. The water didn’t stop in the street, or on the front lawn. It went inside houses. Some folks got inches, others got several feet of water.

The only reason those homes flooded was because nobody was there to start the pumps. All that flooding gets traced right back to Aaron Broussard.

Damage Assessment

Our home accounted for about $150,000 of the $1B total damage incurred in Metairie. While homeowners tried to sue Broussard, the courts ruled that, as a public official, he could not be held personally accountable for his ineptitude.

Passing on Threads for now

Passing on Threads for now

Threads isn’t ready for primetime.

threads

Meta’s Treads isn’t worth the bother…yet

Like a zillion other folks, I installed Threads from Meta last weekend. I lasted about thirty-six hours before taking it off my phone. As the list of things about the platform I didn’t like grew, I gave up. Some items I didn’t like, below.

Instagram connection

While it made sense for Meta to tie their Twittah buster to Instagram, Meta made a poor choice in featuring Instagram “influencers” so prominently in the home feed of Threads. If I want to see Instagram Performers, I can go to IG. if I want Mr. Beast. I come to Da Twittah to talk to people.

User Interface

The home feed’s a mess with all the Perfrormers. The “notifications” section is also problematic. When you follow someone on Threads, you see posts from folks they reply to, before you see the reply. So, I’m reading something that the person I follow thinks is interesting, but it might not be to me. I don’t even know how that post got in my feed until I scroll past it. That increases my temptation to shitpost someone spouting nonsense. Oh, I know, that “nonsense” might not be viewed as such by my realtor, human resource, and social media friends, but context is important. If I see their posts first, I know to move along.

The other UI goofy “feature” I found amusing is the “Tweet this” button. While one Performer thought this was the height of petty on part of Meta, it’s a good example of an unfinished package. You make a post on Threads and want to share it on the other platform. So, you click the button, and it brings you over to Da Twittah. You share your post, but now you’re back on Twitter. There’s no return to the original platform! Not sure that’s what Meta wants.

API

The lack of an API at this time is inconvenient. I use Dlvr It to post to multiple platforms simultaneously. I can hit Twitter, Facebook, IG, and Mastodon from a single posting. It also picks up the RSS feeds of my blogs and shares those. To get something over to Meta’s new platform, I have to manually go back for it.

The bottom line is, I’m out, but may be back when it becomes a usable platform.

AP Style doesn’t like TERF

AP Style Guide thinks TERF is too vague.

TERF

TERF as a descriptive term

AP Style issued a recommendation on the term TERF. The term is an an acronym for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” The term appeared on the social media radar in 2008, with a limited definition. Over time, however, folks applied TERF to more than just a specific subset of anti-trans people.

Now, transgender activists and supporters use TERF to describe anti-trans people in general. It’s a logical progression, since it’s short and recognizable. Many people apply TERF to Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, for her incredible bigoted views on transgender people.

AP are correct

Thing is, the AP recommendation is correct. Most people described as TERFs don’t fit the term. For openers, they’re not feminists of any stripe, much less “radical feminists.” For example, the Times-Picayune editor who published an incredibly anti-trans letter to the editor in the 14-June-2023 edition of the paper isn’t a TERF. They’re a bigot, certainly, but that’s as specific as one can get. Until the paper comes out and identifies the individual, that is. So, a writer striving for accuracy should re-consider the use of the term in such an instance. From an @APStylebook tweet:

On our updated Transgender Topical Guide: trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
We recommend avoiding the vague and politicized term to describe cisgender women or others who object to the inclusion of transgender women in women’s spaces.

The term is both vague and politicized. If a writer wants to include the acronym, a better approach might be to quote someone who uses the term. Still, that’s not perfect, either.

Alternatives

Some of my preferred alternatives to TERF:

  • transphobe
  • anti-transgender
  • Member of the Louisiana Republican Party
  • Member of Moms for Liberty
  • Christianist
  • bigoted shitgibbon

There is also a great deal of overlap between anti-transgender and others on the conservative side of the political horseshoe. Groups advocating the banning of books from public libraries often include titles that address transgender people on their lists. Rather than use a vague term, it’s easy to nail down who and what these people really are.

 

I owe Louisiana Illuminator an apology @IlluminatorLA

I owe Louisiana Illuminator an apology @IlluminatorLA

I should have read up on the mission and structure of Louisiana Illuminator.

louisiana illuminator

Independent news from Louisiana Illuminator

Count me as one of those excited when Louisiana Illuminator  (LAI) started up. The folks writing for them are all top-notch. Even if they don’t align exactly with my take on the state’s issues, they’re smart people I respect. So, imagine my frustration as the 2023 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature (#lalege on Da Twittah) progressed, and LAI wasn’t offering much in the way of opinion. Lots of facts, but no commentary/opinion.

I live on a steady diet of “librul news,” particularly from Slate and Slate Podcasts. Oh, I follow other sources and commentary, particularly old-school locals like Clancy Dubos. I couldn’t make sense of what I saw as a disconnect between the LAI philosophy/mission and this lack of commentary.

LAI’s Mission

louisiana illuminator

From their “About Us” page:

The Louisiana Illuminator is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization driven by its mission to cast light on how decisions are made in Baton Rouge and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians, particularly those who are poor or otherwise marginalized. Here readers will find in-depth investigations and news stories, news briefs and commentary, all of which is intended to help them make sense of how state policy is crafted, how it helps or hurts them and how it helps or hurts their neighbors across the state.

OK, the part about casting light on issues that affect the poor and marginalized is what I came for. In terms of factual presentation, LAI hits this on the head.
It took a message from Editor Greg Larose messaged me, explaining the part I didn’t get. It’s the “nonprofit” part:

An affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers like you, the Louisiana Illuminator retains editorial independence and is presented to readers free of charge and without advertising.

It’s the 501(c)(3) part that limits LAI’s ability to offer opinions. The reporters can offer personal opinions, but the publication can’t. As I told Greg, Now that I understand, I’ll try to be less of a dick to them on Da Twittah.

Nonpartisan

The temptation to cringe when a writer/writers declare they are “nonpartisan” is strong. That’s because all to many outlets equate “both sides” writing with “nonpartisan.” In truth, “nonpartisan” has nothing to do with both sides. It has to be with an ethical presentation of the facts.
The Truth.
And that’s something that’s lacking in The Media of late. LAI tells the truth.

LAI facts, my opinions

And that’s the bottom line for me. Going forward, I’ll be using this blog to expound on the facts offered by LAI, using them to offer calls to action. Progressive/Democratic/Liberal Louisiana needs this. It’s the trailer that the truck full of facts needs to pull behind it. Sometimes with a large sound system blaring the call to action as loudly as possible.

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