Just something off my facebook feed this morning. The Zombie Walk of Alexandria looks like just the sort of event that we really need to be happening on a regular basis. It’s not huge, probably had very little budget, but got people out and about, and having a good time downtown. Bravo.
I don’t think this issue requires much of an introduction because the debate over paying for crossing guards within the City of Alexandria has been an issue for most of the past years. The existing system in which crossing guards are paid for by the City of Alexandria is simply not something that works anymore in this new world of added budgetary constraint. And actually, as budgets get tighter, this will likely be only the first of many many such debates along the lines of what services should be provided and if so by whom.
This crossing guard issue hits to the core of what the purpose of local government really is. Governments are formed to use the combined resources of a community to deliver to that community products or services for which it would be either prohibitively expensive or impractical for individuals to provide themselves. Crossing guards, however, are simply not one of those resources that require special government funding and regulation.
Amelia Durand, originally from Mansura (and I’m pretty sure now the communications director with a winery in California) is featured on the Food Network series Barefoot Contessa.
The episode entitled “Cooking with Rice” features Durand’s family recipe for Jambalaya. It’s nice to see the Central Louisiana version of this Louisiana favorite getting some good press. Durand is the daughter of the former Mayor of Mansura and her family owns and operates Durand’s Food Center (by the way, if you’ve never explored on a short road trip, probably the best hog’s head cheese and boudin can be found around Mansura — I recommend Lonas Kelong’s (Kelong’s Grocery on Main Street), Juneau’s Specialty meats (expensive but good – across from the Casino), and T-Jin’s in Cottonport (especially for Hog’s Head Cheese — but call first before making the drive as they don’t make it everyday).
In case you didn’t know, the CenLa versions of most traditional Louisiana foods are quite different from the South Louisiana and New Orleans versions. There are a couple of reasons for this. First is the type of terrain. When it comes to a combination of growing vegetables, grazing livestock, and fishing and hunting, Central Louisiana has about the best land and weather in the entire state. This means the people who settled here had access to considerably more ingredients than their cousins in the swamp. Also, even though various Louisiana staples can be traced to either Cajun or Creole or Isleño (look it up) roots, the versions we know today are rarely the original pure forms. Also, many of them like Gumbo and Jambalaya were sort of accidental to begin with. You actually find Jambalaya in many cultures (as fried rice in Asia, as Paella in Spain and Latin America, and as various regional varieties in France). It was simply a way to stretch leftovers and the various bits and pieces left in the pantry. Poor food. Interestingly, the word boudin in much of France actually refers to any food (often in a casing like ours) in which leftovers are mixed with rice and recooked.
Our native Central Louisiana versions of things like Jambalaya, Gumbo, e’touffe (it means ‘of the pot’ basically Cajun French for stew), creole, boudin, etc are really about the earliest example of ‘Fusion Cuisine’ you can find. We were a hundred years ahead of the popularity curve on this one (sorry Emeril). CenLa food is like CenLa culture and CenLa highways. It’s a mix of everything that makes Louisiana great. Our cuisine has its roots in the Prairie Cajun traditions of northern Acadiana, the Appalachian country food of North Louisiana (remember the area above Alexandria and Natchitoches was settled almost entirely by free land programs the US government instituted to bring in “Americans” from Kentucky and Tennessee to balance out the French/Spanish/Catholic established population of the state whom they feared would rebel), traditional planter cuisine from Mississippi, a bit of Texas, some traditional New Orleans Bourbon cooking (especially around Alexandria and remember New Orleans french settlers (many of whom first came our way) were not Cajuns and were in fact from an entirely different region of France), and of course some good local soul food from our black residents. It’s a big mix, a lot of people and cultures, and a lot of flavors. But that, is what CenLA is all about, and that’s wonderful fusion that is our Louisiana Cuisine.
Certainly the differences aren’t huge. The main thing is we use more and usually better (perhaps I should say, more expensive or what would have been considered better way back when simply due to the higher availability of culinary resources in the region) ingredients. And, it’s usually spicy (as in having lots of spices in it) yet not overwhelmingly hot and peppery (which tends to be the predominant spice in the Lafayette and Baton Rouge versions because pepper was a sturdy cheaper spice that everyone could keep back then). The New Orleans influence usually means more vegetables and a more neutral roux or butter base. And, our African influences generally mean that you’ll find considerably more okra (Gumbo actually is Senegalese for ‘okra’, so gumbo was originally any soup with okra in it), and more usage of meats like chicken livers and other organ meats from cattle and swine (the biggest difference between CenLa boudin and South Louisiana versions is the presence of liver in ours).
Well, check out the show if you see it. Head down Highway 1 and taste your way around Avoyelles, and stop by Durand’s (I’m going to next time I get the chance. I’ve never had anything from there.). Amelia’s recipe is in the link below:
It’s not very often that something nearly a hundred years old would be considered a ‘must read’. However, given our current political climate, our various financial, regulatory, and social issues at hand, and the relative dysfunction of either of our two parties to do much about them, it may be time to take a look at this.
In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt lost the Republican nomination for president to incumbent Taft. His response was to form his own Progressive Party. Known as the Bullmoose party, the Progressives lambasted the corruption of the Republicans and the inability to adjust and get anything done in the Democrats (sound familiar?). Keep in mind that Roosevelt at no point changed his political stance. He had been a lifelong Republican and felt that he was indeed running and forming this party as a true Republican.
The Republican party — his Republican party — was not one of conservatives demanding nothing in life ever change and idealizing a mis-remembered yesteryear that never existed nor never can. His party was not one of so called libertarians professing a myth that no government is the only good government. His Republican party, the party that idealized the stand of Lincoln, and drew its roots from the ideals of Jefferson (yes, I said Jefferson), was a party of progress. It was a party that was born amid massive economic and social strife and who made their original stand, albeit a very nationally painful one, forcing the nation to progress its social system which at the time kept millions of people in bondage.
What Roosevelt cedes in his break with his party is that their progress driven purpose had by this time become corrupted by power and money. The connections and siding with business interests had stripped the party of its ability to push the nation forward as needs to occur with time.
Thus, he formed his own breakaway group from supporters within the Republican Party, and this was, for the most part, the birth of American Progressive Politics.
Excepting the few things specific to the era of this election. I believe you’ll find reading the Progressive Party’s actual 1912 platform to be an eerily familiar mix of political ideas found within both parties platforms today:
Much has been said in the nearly six weeks since BP’s spoiled rig began spewing barrel after barrel of oil into the Gulf about the lack of quick decisive federal response and the various bureaucratic hurdles effecting such impotence.
Like post-Ivan / pre-Katrina hurricane preparedness, this lack of action- due to demand for studying, observing, debating, planning, and reviewing- is only serving to amplify the destructive action of a situation, which, while perhaps not fully preventable, is, in fact, nearly fully rectified with available tools, methods, and technologies.
In recent weeks, the region has seen millions of gallons of chemical dispersants added to an already toxic blend with no certain knowledge of eventual effect, or any plan of what to do with the now uncoagulated volumes of oil leaching oxygen from the Gulf’s already suffocating waters. In this same period, safe and effective proposals have been offered up, yet repeatedly denied oportunity by either BP, the Corps of Engineers, or the EPA.
Fisherman wishing only to preserve their livelihoods had to originally fight BP and the Coast Guard for permission to use their boats to deploy protective booms. Terrebonne and LaFourche Parishes have both had plans to use bagasse (a natural and nontoxic remnant of the sugar cane processing industry) to soak up the chemical slick only to have the government agencies overseeing the cleanup give a resounding no. Actor turned green entrepreneur Kevin Costner has offered use of a technology which is capable of cleaning the oil from the gulf’s waters in place. His company has enough equipment sitting on barges in Venice right now to clean 99% of the oil from the water at a rate which is faster than the well is leaking into the water. Not only would this eliminate the current slick, it would control any future leaking crude until the well is fully plugged, AND it leaves all of the oil as reclaimed, clean, and fully usable for refining. All parties involved have repeatedly told this company no.
Finally, Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser has been trying for weeks to get approval for his plan to use dredging machines and barges to build a series of sacrificial barrier islands which would seal off the states valuable, irreplacable fishing and oyster grounds from the encroaching petroleum scourge. As Nungesser has repeatedly pointed out, the oil is troublesome yet possible to overcome when floating offshore or sitting on beaches. It is however nearly impossible to effectively clean up once it enters the marshy natural wonder that is Louisiana’s gradual coast. Nungesser’s artificial burms would act as a sort of at sea levee keeping these poisoned waters out of the marsh while still allowing the tar and sludge to deposit itself on this newly created, already dead land. The sand is there, the knowledge and manpower is there, and as anyone who has ever watched the continuous dredging operations off the Florida and Mississippi coasts knows, the dredging equipment is there. Like Costner’s super filters, the dredging machines are onsite, equipped, manned, and ready to go. The Corps and EPA however are continually saying no.
The news of federal bureaucracy overcoming its ability to maintain the slightest semblance of effectiveness is nothing new. These agencies are tasked with their own area of control and often manage to corrupt that need for protection into a bureaucratic feifdom that halts progress on any front. These agencies are tasked with serving the people in whatever their particular capacity is. However, there only one person who is elected by the people of Louisiana to protect and serve Louisiana herself. That man is of course our Governor Bobby Jindal.
Jindal as shown by his embrace of lawsuits challenging the recent health care overhaul is a champion and defender of state’s rights. What state right could be more important than protecting the economy, lifeblood, and ecosystem of the state of Louisiana. I call on Gov. Jindal and ask you all to call on him as well, to exercise his right as the supreme executive of the state of Louisiana and make those decisions that the Feds seem incapable or incompetent of doing.
Governor, give Billy Nungesser the go ahead to build his islands. Tell Kevin Costner to turn on his machines, and DO SOMETHING TO CLEAN UP THAT OIL!!
If this becomes a pissing match between state and federal officials, so be it. But make the decisions, get to work, and deal with the legal and bureaucrats fights later on.
We only have one coast and we only have one shot at this. This is your Katrina. Do you really want to be our next one-term governor, sitting in your livingroon hearing everyone say “if only he had acted…”?
I haven’t heard anything about this, but there is an ad on Craigslist for employment with Buffalo Wild Wings which is “Coming Soon to Alexandria”.
The city of New Orleans has released their NOLA 2030 masterplan. It’s really worth a look as it takes a very holistic approach to restoring the green urban qualities of our largest city in a very responsible and attainable manner.
I think paying attention to such a project for New Orleans is very good for Cenla, as our community actually has much more in common with NOLA than most people think.
I wasn’t actually out looking for this, but found this summary in a state-by-state comparison (which has nothing to do with the Health Care Plan) — From Insureme.com:
Louisiana has taken great care to ensure that its residents have access to health insurance.
Here are some facts you may not be aware of in your state regarding health insurance:
- If you receive coverage from a group plan, Louisiana’s nondiscrimination policy prohibits you from being denied or receiving limited coverage because of your health status.
- If you become ill, guaranteed renewability ensures that your health insurance plan won’t get cancelled.
- If you are a small-business owner purchasing group coverage, the guaranteed issue ensures that you cannot be turned down for medical insurance on account of your group’s age, gender or health status.
- If you lose your group coverage and meet other qualifications, you may be able to purchase individual Louisiana health insurance through the Louisiana Health Plan (LHP). You won’t face a pre-existing condition period unless you have been previously denied coverage by two or more insurance companies.
Your coverage will depend on what kind of Louisiana health insurance you carry. If you receive coverage through a group plan, your coverage may provide more extensive coverage.
Individual health plans vary in benefits covered, so you’ll want to confirm what’s mandated by your state’s department of insurance before purchasing your policy.
The State of Louisiana has implemented some remarkable programs to help its 576,000 uninsured residents receive coverage. If you make a low or modest income, you may be eligible for free or subsidized health care through Louisiana Medicaid. Louisiana Medicaid offers coverage for pregnant women, families and the elderly and disabled.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program provides full health benefits through Louisiana Medicaid for women who are screened through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
If your children are currently without Louisiana health insurance, you may receive full health benefits through the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Plan, or LaCHIP.
Is it just me, or does what our legislature has already set up sound a LOT like most of what’s in the Health Care overhaul that they are all so adamantly opposed to?
Our recent predicament with Levee decertification has resulted in page after page of finger pointing both in print and online with one resounding theme of people being unclear about which government entity is responsible for what in regard to local levees. With the Levees, there is debate over whom actually is ultimately in charge of the structural integrity of waterway protection in Rapides Parish — The Corps of Engineers, Red River Atchafalaya & Bayou Boueff Levee District, Rapides Parish Police Jury, City of Alexandria/City of Pineville, individual property owners…who? Any? All?
One thing we learned after Katrina (actually we learned it after Ivan but chose not to act prior to Katrina) is that not knowing whom is in charge can lead to the most ultimate of detrimental effects. In the same way, having too many chiefs creates nothing but confusion and bureaucracy and creates huge hurdles to development and effective management of scarce local resources.
New Orleans — the Carnival King of nepotism and who d’ya know is slowly taking the steps to rectify the mess that is their local government system. Combining levee boards (somewhat), assessors, sheriffs, etc will eventually allow them to operate more effectively and efficiently with great cost savings, unified visions, and streamlined governance. If it can happen in NOLA, it can happen elsewhere. We need to follow that lead in CenLA.
From Language Log:
Fox News…has decided to count first-person pronouns in every speech Obama gives. Thus “The I’s Have It: Obama Hits 34 I’s in Washington D.C.”, FOXNews.com, 2/7/2010:
Much attention has been given to President Obama’s persistent use of “I” when giving speeches to sell his administration’s agenda. Is he taking responsibility — or, as his critics say, is he still in campaign mode? FoxNews.com is tracking the president’s speeches all this month and will report back after each to see whether The “I’s” Have It.
The article goes on to show that Fox News and their Anti-Obama cohorts left one little nugget of info out of their “analysis”:
Obama’s use of ‘I’ is far lower than Palin, Boehner, and a whole slew of Republicans; And, his use of ‘We’ is far higher than theirs.
Read the entire article.
There was a comment posted a while back saying that Alexandria could never be used as a filming location for anything but scenes needing small southern town Americana sort of stuff.
Alexandria Film Maker Marshall Woodworth has this video:
Camera angles and lighting obviously do a lot, but it doesn’t look terribly small town’ish to me.
Or dismay, depending on your views:
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has been for the most part, strangely quiet regarding President Obama’s healthcare proposals. Certainly he’s done a bit of grandstanding to remind any potential voters and donors that he’s their kind of conservative. But for Jindal, who has used every unpopular democratic proposal as his own personal soapbox for the past year to steer mostly clear of healthcare seems odd. Well, actually it doesn’t…
I think Jindal has a dark and dirty secret he has to hide from his Republican cohorts.
Bobby’s got a crush on Obama.
Well, maybe he isn’t exactly in love with B-Rock himself, but he surely must have a twinkle in his eyes for the President’s plans for universal healthcare. Why? Well Bobby, like most of his peers has a nice free publicly funded healthcare plan for himself and his family. In fact, he’s had taxpayer-funded health insurance since he was in college. He doesn’t have to worry about his own healthcare, so from a personal health standpoint the Obama plans really don’t affect him too much. But, aside from his own occasional scraped knee or Flu shot, Bobby does have one big worry that is always on his mind — the Louisiana State Budget.
Nobody Knows the Troubles He’s Seen
So here we have Bobby Jindal — child star of the GOP — the party of budgetary restraint and responsibility (we’ll ignore the past 12 years and assume they still practice what they preach), and we have him balancing the running of the state of Louisiana with his hopeful shot at the big national job in a few years. So Jindal has to manage a pretty amazing balancing act — he has to be the voice of fiduciary responsibility while meeting the needs of one of the poorest populations in the country.
It’s that population that creates a problem for Jindal. Louisiana is a state with more potential wealth than most of the country, yet centuries of privateering upon the state by business and national government interests have left the 25th most populous state with the 49th most impoverished citizenry. Most years entail huge budget shortfalls and problems with transportation, education, and healthcare funding throughout the state; in a time when government wants to be concentrating on economic development, Louisiana has problems filling potholes and paying for band-aids.
Louisiana has a population of around 4.5 million people. Together they pay $4 billion each year in income taxes to their state government or roughly $1000 per person on average (certainly many pay no taxes and many others pay considerably more). As last year’s electoral support for Ron Paul shows, Louisianians have a strong libertarian streak. They like to take care of their own, but they expect maximum return on their tax investment and would just as soon not pay for anything they don’t have to.
Louisiana’s libertarian streak is balanced in a strange way by an equally strong sense social responsibility not as evident in most states. Louisiana has always had a strong history of publicly funded education, infrastructure, and healthcare.
Going back the 1920′s and the populist movement of Huey P. Long, Louisiana has maintained one of the most comprehensive charity hospital systems in the nation. The charity system in Louisiana is by far not perfect, but it does make the state unique in that technically, every person in Louisiana does have universal healthcare. Sure it’s not the best, and if they feel you can afford it, they will bill you, but everyone here can go to a hospital or clinic, or Parish health unit and get care. This care gets expensive. Even with those in the state who have private insurance not using the Charity system, we still spend $8 Billion each year running our state healthcare system — that’s about $2,000 per person per year, or roughly twice what the average income tax per person is.
Our other big public expenditure is education, and in particular higher education — the many colleges and universities of our state. There are roughly 150,000 college students at Louisiana’s colleges and universities (a little over 3% of the population).
Money, Money, Money must be funny…
Higher Education and Healthcare have one main thing in common for Bobby Jindal: They fall into that part of the budget that is not protected from budget cuts. That means that no matter how vital these services are, or how popular they are, when it comes time to make up a shortfall in revenues, it’s Healthcare and Higher Education that get the axe in Louisiana.
So it’s rather funny, the two areas that have the most impact on Louisiana’s future economic viability are the most vulnerable in our budgeting process. Obviously we need healthy workers and more obviously we need an educated workforce to lift the state’s populace out of poverty. What’s also a bit funny — not comical, but ironic — is the fact that higher education and healthcare are Bobby Jindal’s two shining bullets on his elect-me resume. Having worked for Governor Mike Foster as the youngest head of the University of Louisiana system and then as part of the Bush administrations healthcare team. If there were anyone in the governor’s office in Louisiana in the past 20 years who should know how to deal with Louisiana’s health and education needs it should be Bobby Jindal.
Unfortunately for Bobby, much in the same situation as Obama, he’s been dealing with money far more than medicine and with the economics of running the states colleges and universities in an ever deepening deficit. This budget year will see the Governor slashing 635 million dollars in higher education spending. Take that $635 m and divide it by the 150,000 college students in the state and you have per student burden of those cuts equaling a ghastly $5,000 each! That $5,000 per student cut can only be directly felt by those students and their families as either a lessening in educational quality and opportunity or a very hefty increase in tuition in a time when no one can afford an increase in anything.
Executive Branch Romance
Higher Education and Healthcare aren’t Louisiana’s only funding problems. As reported in the Town Talk last week the state’s transportation infrastructure backlog is nearly a decade behind — even after the huge influx of federal dollars from economic and storm recovery programs. And, in Central Louisiana alone the finding backlog sits at $250 million with only $12 million in annual spending being available on a good year.
So how does this all tie into how the secret romance could be budding behind the executive households of Washington and Baton Rouge?
Well as beneficial as it has been for Bobby Jindal to politically challenge every proposal the Obama administration has put forth, that alone can’t win him a future Republican nomination. The Christian Conservative wave on which Bobby Jindal has built his personal political career has very quickly moved from being the centerpiece of his Republican party to now being openly referred to as a fringe element. While Bobby certainly has the support of that fringe, even here in Louisiana where vast stretches of the state vote as their preachers tell them to, people are looking for something more than vacuous ideology and hateful rhetoric.
No Bobby won’t win in the future only on arguing against gays and for God. He has to do far more than that. His first foray into the realm of the new Republican has thus far backfired with the true colors of his “Ethics Reform” showing the cracking finish of a once gleaming facade. Jindal needs to show the state and more importantly his national party that he can be one of the new Republicans — that he like the long unfulfilled promises of his party can move beyond a decade of massive political corruption and conservatism with corporate sponsorship. For the Governor to ever be more than governor, he must show that he can solve the social and societal issues of his state and make it more attractive to economic development, all the while limiting taxation and reigning in the now very bloated state budget.
Change that even a Republican Could Use
This past week Louisiana Congressman Cao made big news by being the only Republican to cross the very demarcated party divide to vote for the house Healthcare bill. But Cao may not be the only Louisiana Republican who sees the massive benefit his state could reap from Obama’s universal health coverage. Bobby is not a dumb man and he’s very good with numbers…
Those numbers as mentioned above are that Louisiana currently spends 8 billion dollars of its state budget every year on providing healthcare for its citizens. What that has to do with universal healthcare is incredibly simple and it’s amazing ingenious of him not to oppose it. If the federal government were to pick up the tab of funding healthcare of Louisiana’s citizens, then suddenly the state would have $8 billion more dollars a year than it has now. Actually they may end up with even more because they would have the opportunity of converting one of the nation’s largest charity hospital systems into a profitable network of healthcare providers funded not by the state’s taxpayers but by a national healthcare program.
What would that $8,000,000,000 mean for Louisiana? A lot. What would it mean for Bobby Jindal? A nomination.
With the 8 billion dollar healthcare burden removed from the state budget the Governor and Legislature could fully fund higher education, could fund every transportation backlog in a single fiscal year, and could actually eliminate the personal income tax from the state altogether. Look again at the numbers:
$8,000,000,000 (healthcare expenditures)
- 635,000,000 (Higher Ed Cuts)
- 4,000,000,000 (total personal income taxes paid)
$3,365,000,000 (left over to play with)
It’s a new Republican’s dream and if Obama get’s his wish in Washington, Bobby Jindal just may get his as well.
“Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine’s version of “America’s Got Talent.” She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and “sand painting” skills to interpret Germany’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.”
What is in this video is only a piece of glass with a light shining through it and sand — nothing else, no computer enhancement or anything.
The Nazi regime in Ukraine was quite brutal with much of their assault on the territory intending to cut off Russian from their breadbasket and oil fields.
Former Louisiana Governor Dave Treen of Metairie died this morning at East Jefferson Medical Center of complications related to a respiratory illness. Treen (pictured 2nd from right above with fellow Governors Foster, Roemer, and Edwards) was the first Republican elected to the governorship in Louisiana since Reconstruction.
Treen, originally of Baton Rouge, was a graduate of Tulane University and Tulane Law School. He was a veteran of the US Air Force and practiced law in the New Orleans area. In 1972 he was elected to Congress, representing Louisiana’s 3rd District throughout the 70′s.
Treen pushed for legislation to improve states’ rights in negotiating offshore drilling agreements and leases in the Gulf of Mexico as well as extending SBA assistance to traditional Louisiana small businessmen such as Fishermen. As a member of the Armed Services Committee Treen helped steer federal dollars to Louisiana working with other congressmen to greatly expand Barksdale AFB in Bossier, Bell Chaise in New Orleans, and England AFB here in Alexandria.