The Son of a Son of a Sailor sails on.
Rest easy, Son of a Son of a Sailor
Looking at Forty – Bless you, JB.
Jimmy Buffett and Zac Brown perform Pirate Looks At Forty at Lakewood in Atlanta – Apr 27, 2010
Calling Baton Rouge before Alabama vs LSU 11.5.2022
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
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
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.
Katrina – Broussard Water caused over $1B in damage in 2005.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I should have read up on the mission and structure of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Before the Whistle – one of the best local sports folks has an insightful podcast.
Maddy Hudak – Before the Whistle
Maddy Hudak is a sports journalist based in New Orleans. An alum of Tulane University, Maddy is a Sideline Reporter for Tulane Football, as well as a very busy freelancer. She’s appeared on television, radio, and podcasts since before she popped up on my personal radar, and now it’s great to see Maddy doing her own pod.
Here’s her description of the pod, from her episode website:
Maddy Hudak is one of the rising stars in sports journalism. She provides her insights each week as a sideline reporter for Tulane University football, as a contributor to The Saints Wire for USA Today and ESPN 104.5, as well as many other television and radio programs. A lifelong student of the game, Maddy is also a graduate of The Scouting Academy. Before the Whistle isn’t about hot takes. The ”why” and the ”how” are just as important as the ”who” and the ”what.” If it impacts winning and losing, Maddy will be talking about it on Before the Whistle. New episodes each Tuesday and Friday.
I listened to her ep of 5-May-2023, Rethinking Sports Through The AIQ w/ Mike Clark, Ph.D. Very informative! I learned much about heard of the concept of “Athletic IQ.’ So much of football talk focuses on the games and not what happens behind the scenes. Maddy drills deep into that content. It’s not the kind of thing you hear from your average sports reporter.
With the exception of Association Football, I avoid sports podcasts. I’m a soccer kind of person. Other than soccer-specific pods, the only omnibus sports pod in my playlist is Hang Up and Listen, from Slate. While I don’t see increasing my diet of football coverage, I think Maddy’s pod will be fun. Check her out!
Understanding the origins of Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations.
Alphabet Soup – Black Political Organizations
I read with interest an article on Verite News, The rise and fall of Black political organizations in New Orleans. My first reaction to the Professor Collins’ article was, as I tweeted, disappointment. The story of Black political organizations in New Orleans deserves a full telling.
A second reading revealed it wasn’t intended as a full treatment of the subject. The editors tagged it as a “4 min read.” Perhaps what was delivered was all Verite wanted.
What really struck me, though, were two serious omissions.
The first is in the telling of the rise of BOLD, COUP, LIFE, SOUL, and other groups. Collins offers no background here, other than increasing Black voter registration was how these groups came into being. That’s true, but only a small part of the story. The Black organizations did indeed come together. They supported Dutch Morial in his campaign to succeed Moon Landrieu as mayor. Collins doesn’t mention the biggest accommplishment of the political groups at that time.
The Deal With The Judges.
Collins offers this summary of the political landscape of the 1980s:
It should be noted that by the late 1980s, suburban white flight was in full effect in New Orleans, decreasing the white population, and increasing the Black population. The Black organizations enjoyed their most power during this period when the city voting rolls flipped from majority white to majority Black. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the groups increased their power by electing many city council members, state legislators, and judges.
This is entirely accurate, but it’s not enough. The whyte infrastructure of New Orleans eroded over time, starting with Dutch’s election in 1977*. A Black leader in City Hall marked the start of the transition, but for all intents and purposes, city government was incredibly whyte. Right out of the gate, Dutch was forced to face down the whyte police union, as NOPD went on strike. While Dutch overcame the union, the strike demonstrated just how deep the whyte roots of government extended.
That’s when the Black organizations discovered a way to strengthen their position. They struck an unofficial deal with the judges of Orleans Parish. In exchange for the Black political infrastructure allowing those judges to run unopposed, the judges agreed to not endorse whyte candidates to succeed them. Black lawyers fought it out as the incumbents retired. It took longer to shift the balance, but it worked.
There are other stories related to the Black organizations that don’t fit in a “4 min read,” and I can’t hold Professor Collins for that. Still, the piece leaves so much out.
Collins writes about the groups’ decline:
There were several structural factors that led to this decline. The first was unique to New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina in 2005. These organizations are neighborhood-based. The hurricane ripped apart many traditional neighborhood ties as former residents rebuilt in new locations.
The decline of the Black organizations pre-dates Hurricane Katrina. Department of Justice came for these organizations almost immediately after George W. Bush took office as President. James B. Letten succeeded Eddie Jordan as US Attorney. Letten and staff came for outgoing Mayor Marc Morial (LIFE). He then came for Congressman Bill Jefferson (Progressive Democrats). Years before the storm, Republicans aggressively came for the Black political infrastructure.
They incarcerated Oliver Thomas
DOJ locked up Bill Jefferson.
The feds came hard for Jacques Morial, in the hopes he would roll on his brother.
Bush’s Department of Justice seriously damaged the Black organizations in Orleans Parish.
Understanding the past is how any group moves forward. Understanding just how much Republicans want to destroy voting blocs who will never support them is important.
*While Dutch did not take office until 1-May-1978, he won the election in November of the previous year. That long delay between election and inauguration was changed for Mitch Landrieu’s second term.
There’s a Mayoral Recall in New Orleans.
Mayoral Recall is dumb
Residents of Orleans Parish filed a recall petition against Mayor LaToya Cantrell in August. It was a silly idea then and it continues to be a month later. Here’s the top five reasons the recall is dumb:
5. City Leadership aren’t interested
At least in public. Oh, you know full well they’re quite interested. Like most folks, they just don’t want to give the petition oxygen.
4. Horrible timing
Petitioners filed on 26-August, which means they must produce 54,000 signatures. While the grass isn’t greener for the other six months of the year, the Fall, going into Carnival, is dumb. Any and all events taking place during this period become automatically more interesting. Events that attract tourists make it more of a challenge to collect valid signatures.
3. Costs will be more than $30K
The recall effort will absolutely cost more than $30,000. That’s basically the amount at issue here. Yes, the petitioners have a lot of things to say about the mayor’s “leadership” and such, but what they’re really upset about is that her honor sat in the front of the planes she took on her European junket. Your opinion on spending city money on flight upgrades doesn’t matter at this point. Someone decided first class was the rallying cry. That means the direct outrage focuses on thirty large. If the organizers get their signatures, the city will then be forced to spend half a million on the election.
2. Most problems with the city date back decades
While there are many things a city chief executive or manager can do to screw things up in a couple of years, those are relatively minimal. Pumping stations? The electric grid? NOPD? All of these items were a mess when Cantrell took office. Shit, they were a mess for Morial. That’s why the pro-recall types needed a specific incident that they could hang directly on Cantrell. This is why almost all of the city’s elected officials are silent on the recall. They don’t want to kick the hornet’s nest. They know this is a “there but for the grace of god” situation. It might not be air travel upgrades, but there’s something worth $30K in everyone’s past.
1. It’s racist
The motivation behind the Cantrell effort is absolutely racist. How dare a Black woman fly first class? Imagine having to sit next to her?! Horrors! Racism is what brings Whyte New Orleans out to vote.
New Orleans is a minority-majority city/parish. This drives the larger whyte population in suburban parishes insane. We’re talking about whyte people who simply loathe the notion of Black people in charge. If there’s an opportunity for the whyte folks to increase their control in the city doesn’t come around every day.
So, let’s rile up the whyte people! We’ll bring along some Black folks who don’t agree with the flight reservations, either. While whyte legislators squeeze the city regularly, this would be an internal foothold. And yes, I know how this sounds. This nonsense is for real.
It’s too late to completely stop the recall process. It’s possible to remind folks of why it’s dumb until next February.