The buried bankruptcy lede in Da Paper is the motivations of plaintiff/creditor attorneys. Featured photo is of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, courtesy Infrogmation.
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
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.
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.
AP Style Guide thinks TERF is too vague.
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.
Some of my preferred alternatives to TERF:
- Member of the Louisiana Republican Party
- Member of Moms for Liberty
- 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.
Bayou Brief at Yatpundit’s Pub
Two segments today at the pub. We’ll talk about the new progressive news site for Louisiana, The Bayou Brief, then we’ll talk food, grits and the Holy Trinity.
The Bayou Brief
The Bayou Brief – Nevertheless, we will Progress!
The Bayou Brief is Louisiana’s news site for long-form stories with a Progressive focus. There are three basic types of stories produced by The Bayou Brief (my categorization, not theirs): Cultural/Louisiana, Goverment, and “Red Meat” for Democrats/Liberals. FULL DISCLOSURE: Lamar’s publishing the first chapter of my forthcoming book, Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store, on Wednesday. The concept for The Bayou Brief dates back to December, 2015. Lamar organized a group of progressives involved in media/communications to kick around ideas, in the wake of the election of John Bel Edwards as Governor of Louisiana. Yes, we’d chosen a Democrat, but the media in Louisiana was still overwhelmingly conservative The Bayou Brief offers progressives in the sate a place to read solid news and features, coming at issues from a progressive perspective. This is a Big Deal, and that’s why we discuss it today.
Bayou Brief Coffee Mug, along with a Blue Dot Donuts orange donut at Wakin’ Bakin’
You know you need a Bayou Brief coffee mug in your life. While you may read other sites, your support progressive journalism in Louisiana is essential.
Grits Bowls at Wakin’ Bakin’
Wakin’ Bakin’ on Banks Street in Mid-City New Orleans. Wakin’ Bakin’ is by far my favorite breakfast place in New Orleans.
“Holy Cluck!” (Wakin’ Bakin photo)
“Holy Cluck!” – a Breakfast bowl with grits, swiss cheese, the Holy Trinity (sauteed onions, green pepper, and celery), topped with two eggs.
The Breakfast Bowl is the most popular item on the WB menu. So, they start with a base: grits, hash browns, or black beans. Add a meat (bacon, breakfast sausage, hot sausage, chorizo, chicken. Add cheese if you like, cheddar, swiss, pepper jack (occasionally they’ll use brie on a daily special bowl). Top with two eggs, any style. This bowl has grits, chicken, swiss cheese, the Holy Trinity, and two eggs. Delicious!
Podcast (yatpunditpub): Play in new window | Download
In this week’s write-up of the email she gets, Elizabeth Jensen responds to listeners’ concerns about coverage of same-sex marriage. You just gotta love NPR, they’re probably the only media outlet getting dinged for not covering Christians who support same-sex marriage. Two listeners wrote, calling the network out for painting all Christians in the fundigelical corner.
One of the network’s responses was interesting:
Chris Turpin, vice president of news programming and operations, weighed in, as well. He said he’s pleased with NPR’s coverage of same-sex marriage overall, leading up to and following the Court decision: “On the whole I thought we did a very, very nuanced job.”
That said, he added—with the caveat that live coverage and responding in the second is not always neat and clean— “We probably had a couple of pastor interviews too many. There were a couple places where it would have been great to have just a little bit more context of the overall breakdown of where American Christians stand on gay marriage.”
“pastor interviews” – that’s almost a dogwhistle. I knew what he meant, the fire-and-brimstone type of preacher who thinks Pastor Huckabee walks on water. Ms. Jensen does a good job breaking down the numbers showing overwhelming support for marriage equality. I’m just as guilty as anyone of this sort of assumption, that pastor won’t approve of a woman marrying her girlfriend. It’s not the case, and there are whole Christian denominations endorsing marriage equality. While the catlick bishops may not approve, there are more than a few priests who get what love is as well.
In other Ombudsman news, it’s good to see that listeners have kept the memory of Michel Martin’s program, “Tell Me More”, arguably the most-diverse program on the network. It was cancelled a year ago, and that was a sad day. While the staff of NPR is quite diverse, the on-air presentation of subjects is not. Sure there are a lot of good projects out there, like Codeswitch, but Tell Me More was a daily presence. It’s good to see that Martin’s coming back on-air:
It’s not a daily presence, but fans of Martin are getting their wish: Martin, as it was announced Thursday, will begin anchoring the Saturday and Sunday editions of All Things Consideredbeginning in September. She replaces Arun Rath, who will return to Boston, where he was previously based.
Now, give her back her show.
Jensen also details a number of recent personnel moves that will be of interest to NPR-geeks.