Sunday, August 31, 2008

For Cynthia and Grandmère Mimi

This video is for my niece and her family who left their home in Houma for shelter with her mother, for Grandmère Mimi, our wonderful blogger friend, and her husband. Even more, it is a prayer for all of those who had to leave their homes to seek shelter in strange places.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Michael Moore: Gustav is proof there is a God

I couldn't believe what he said to Keith Olberman. "Gustav is proof there is a God, hitting New Orleans on the first day of the Republican Convention?"
What is he, the left wing Glenn Beck?
First we heard that Gustav was hitting because Southern Decadence, a gay celebration, is this weekend. Now it is to wreak revenge on the Republicans.
The people of New Orleans, and all of South Louisiana, are the victims of a god intent on punishing one political side or the other?
Here's the video.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jim Brown: The Most Dysfunctional Agency in Louisiana

It looked like it was going to be a real horse race. Who would win the title of being the most dysfunctional political body in Louisiana? The final choices were whittled down to three. The mayors of both New Orleans and Mandeville made the final cut. But when all was and done, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Company won the title of being the most inefficient, corrupt and dysfunctional agency operating in Louisiana state government.
The two mayors in contention, both in the greater New Orleans area, gave it their best shot and made last-minute efforts to show how inept and out of touch both could be. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who seems to create some major blunder monthly, is back in the daily headlines by trying to justify his way out of a rehab housing scandal that involves his brother-in-law. There is plenty of evidence that private companies billed the city of New Orleans for demolition work that they did not actually performed. Nagin brushed off both the criticism and calls for investigations by saying that those who criticize are “hurting the recovery efforts.”
He may soon be able to express his protests to a Grand Jury.

And there seems to be a new revelation about Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price as the sun rises each day. Price has been alibiing his DWIs and squandering of city funds for months now. And it’s hard to top his logic of misuse. When auditors raise questions about his using a city credit card to cover the cost of a cruise to Mexico and other personal travel, Price simply said that he is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and (I love this part) "takes note of architecture and other things that provide a benefit to the city while he is on vacation." I've been around public life in Louisiana for almost 30 years, and I've never heard one like that.

But as disreputable as the antics of both Mayors were, they could not hold a candle to the continuing dysfunction of Louisiana's state created property insurance company. Last year, the Baton Rouge Business Report referred to Citizens as the single biggest financial disaster in the state’s history. Since those allegations were made, the scenario at the offices of this state run disaster has only gone from bad to worse.

The board of directors of Citizens was scheduled to approve a 41 % increase a few weeks ago, which was, by the way, the third such increase rubberstamped by the Louisiana Insurance Department since Katrina. The problem was that there was no board of directors to give such approval. There are presently eight vacancies on the board out of 15 members, so the company cannot even get a quorum to meet. The parameters for membership are set by the Louisiana legislature.

But several individuals who were approached for membership flatly turned the board appointment down. They pointed to the continuing scandals at Citizens and the staff’s inability to perform even the most basic financial oversight. As one potential member stated; “The Citizen’s mess is just going to get worse. There has been blatant incompetence in running this state company and I want nothing to do with it.”

Just last week, the Louisiana legislative auditor published evidence that Citizens is two years behind in filing financial audits required by law. Every other private insurance company is required by the Louisiana Department insurance to file both quarterly audited financial statements, and full annual audits. Citizens has been allowed to float without filing the required financial information for the past three years. A private insurance company so mismanaged would have been shut down long ago. Unfortunately, Citizens is the only option for thousands of homeowners in South Louisiana. But just as unfortunately, they are buying a pig in a poke with continually rising rates from a troubled company that has massive internal financial problems.

The final coup de grace that assured Citizens of becoming the state's most dysfunctional public body was the public disinterest on the part of the company's management in pursuing past wrongdoing. A federal class-action lawsuit had been filed some months ago alleging racketeering, money laundering and both wire and mail fraud on the part of board members and former executives. The judge in the case indicated that private individuals did not have standing to bring the lawsuit. The obligation would fall on those running the company.

But instead of directing their attorneys to bring legal action against those who have created massive losses in the past, the present chief executive for Citizens dismissed any corrective action simply by saying "we want to put this behind us and do something more productive." Apparently, holding accountable those who allowed major mismanagement and unlawful spending was not something that would be "productive" for Citizens. A company moves on, and the policy holders are the losers.

So after tallying up all the scores, the race was really not that close. For the third year in a row, Citizens Property Insurance Company continues to hold the title of the state’s most dysfunctional publicly run body. And in a place like Louisiana, there is always a lot of competition for such recognition. Way to go guys.


Once a man holds public office he is absolutely no good for honest work.
Will Rogers

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s column appears weekly, and is published on a number of newspapers and websites throughout Louisiana. You can read past columns by going to Jim’s website at Jim’s regular radio show on WRNO, 995fm out of New Orleans can be heard each Sunday from 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Giuliani will give Keynote Address at Republican Convention

Rudy Giuliani has nailed the Keynote address for the Republican Convention. The Republican Convention website has posted a list of speakers for the convention. Governor Jindal will speak before the vice-presidential candidate, whoever that may be.
Looks like he didn't get his second-greatest wish either. . . .

Monday, Sept. 1
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.)
Vice President Richard B. Cheney
First Lady Laura Bush
President George W. Bush

Tuesday, Sept. 2
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.)
Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Pa.)
Gov. Sarah Palin (Alaska)
Gov. Jon Huntsman (Utah)
Rosario Marin, California Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and former Treasurer of the United States
Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.)
Gov. Linda Lingle (Hawaii)
Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Md.)

Wednesday, Sept. 3
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.)
Meg Whitman, National Co-Chair for McCain 2008 and former President and CEO of eBay
Carly Fiorina, Victory ‘08 Chairman for the Republican National Committee and former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.)
Mrs. Cindy McCain
Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.)
Republican Party’s Vice Presidential Nominee

Thursday, Sept. 4
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.)
Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.)
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.)
U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.)
John McCain

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Many naysayers have predicted that the family summer vacation, a venerable American tradition for over a century, has now passed away quietly after a lengthy illness. Supposedly, the final coup de grace was the recent rise in gas prices. But I say they protest a bit too much. I've taken a vacation during the month of August as far back as I can remember. Now I know the family dinner hour has gone by the wayside with an onslaught of television, cell phones, and way too many over-booked extracurricular activities. But I'm staying sanguine about the future of American mobility, and I’m back on the open road again.

Jack Kerouac initially took me on our country’s byways through his 1951 Beat classic, "On the Road." He showed us a route through his words that led to discoveries not only of our country by ourselves. He well could have taken his cadence and rhythm from turn-of-the-century poet Walt Whitman’s The Song of the Open Road, in his classic “Leaves of Grass.”

From the sour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going were I list, my own master, total and absolute
Listening to others and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

One important step during my week in the North Carolina Mountains is to take a secular Sabbath and shake free of screens, bells and beeps. Unfortunately, even as I've gotten older, I've developed way too much dependence on laptops, and PDAs that can turn into a modem. But no more. As I started this trip, I looked in the mirror and told the face there that my name is Jim, and I'm a techno-addict. But on this journey, I've committed to unplug and try to be more connected to myself rather than my computer.

And another cardinal rule this week. Absolutely no TV and talk radio. I can get the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on DVD a few weeks from now, and I really don't care about John Edwards’s love child. Radio shows on the east coast have constantly complaining hosts taking calls from a miserable whining public that I can do without.

And quite frankly, as I try to enjoy the mountain breezes, daily hikes, and get myself in better shape, television does little more than feed an endless stream of information about what's wrong with us and what we need to buy to make it right.

There is a constant bombardment of medical solutions including Advair, Aleve and Ambien; Celebrex, Cialis, Claritin and Crestor; Flomax, Lipitor, Valtrex and Viagra to list a handful. Then you are given grave warnings about all the terrible things that could happen to you if you do use one of these products. So if you don't suffer terrible consequences from the disease, the side effects of the drug could make your life really miserable anyway. Living is worse than dying. I'm not taking a vacation to listen to an endless stream of that claptrap.

When the commercial ends, the news comes on to report about all the things our government is warning we should be worried about, and that apparently only they can fix. All with our tax money of course. Terrorists, sexual predators, pesticides, light bulbs, cell phones that cause cancer, cigarettes, fast food, cholesterol, SUVs, asbestos, lead paint and a whole list of other hazards where a government program is needed to correct. Enough already. I'm trying to enjoy my vacation.

So no communication tools. Just a few good books (fiction, nothing serious, good tune outs), some comfortable hiking boots, a little fresh fruit from highway stands along the way, a few bottles of wine from home, and my 20 year old banjo I swear I’m going to learn to play well some day.

I’ll make a deal. You stay abreast of the political radio gossip and TV drivel while I’m gone, and I’ll get back to the task next week of second guessing those who govern us. In the mean time, let me get on with my travels. Or in Whitman’s words: The road is before us.../ Be not detained.


“I envy people who can just look at a sunset. I wonder how you can shoot it. There is nothing more grotesque to me than a vacation.”
Dustin Hoffman

Peace and Justice.

Jim Brown

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Republican Activist mailed flyers attacking Kip Holden

Member of Republican State Central Committee mailed out flyers for money
From The Advocate

A self-described Republican activist acknowledged Monday he sent out a political mailer smearing Mayor-President Kip Holden, but refused to say who paid him to do it.
Scott Wilfong said he was paid through his business, Capital Business Services, to send out the mailers that allege the mayor had an affair with a married woman and was beaten up by her husband.
“I didn’t write it, I didn’t print it and I wasn’t responsible for its content. I simply did a job for a client and sent them out,” said Wilfong, whose post office box and postal permit were on the mailings.
Holden has called for a criminal investigation by the FBI and the state Attorney General’s Office into the brochure distributed through the U.S. Postal Service last week.
Wilfong said he doesn’t think any laws were broken, noting that Holden is a public figure.

Video of Wilfong interview

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chris Gorman: Spoof video on YouTube

Okay, first off - I didn't do it and I don't know who did. This hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Chris Gorman; first, two polls that show Dr. Fleming ahead in the Republican race, and then a poll today that shows Democrat Paul Carmouche blowing all three Republicans out of the water.

If that isn't enough, this shows up on You Tube. My better angels told me not to post it, but they have been so outnumbered for so long . . .

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kip Holden calls for criminal investigation

Baton Rouge Mayor's race getting uglier

From The Advocate (includes video)
A mailer filled with personal charges against Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden is causing a storm in the Capital City. Holden says the charges are false, and he says Kurt Sharper, the brother of Metro Council member Byron Sharper, has distributed some of the flyers.

Thanks to The Dead Pelican