Just back from a trip to Baltimore to deliver a speech on “Responding to Crises in Baton Rouge,” Mayor-President Kip Holden hit the road again this week, headed for Panama with a group of business and political leaders.

The trip was the mayor’s third in three weeks, including a trip to Taiwan the week of Sept. 5 that raised eyebrows. Some Metro Council members had questioned the mayor’s decision to jet off to Taiwan while they were dealing with debris pickup issues and deciding whether to change elevation requirements for homes that flooded.


East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden was not invited to testify about flood relief Fr…

Holden defended the Taiwan trip at a news conference when he returned and told reporters then that he would be leaving later that week for Baltimore. His appointments calendar shows he was in Baltimore from Sept. 14 to Sept. 16.

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The mayor hit the road again on Sept. 20, this time with a group of business and political leaders who have been visiting Panama over the past few days as part of their annual canvas trip.

Business and political leaders take off on the canvas trip each year to visit other cities and learn about how they handle economic development and other issues. The coalition of attendees often includes officials from both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The trip to Panama is the first time the canvas trip has taken the leaders to an international destination.

As for Taiwan, Holden told reporters at a Sept. 12 news conference that the U.S. State Department had invited him to go there, and that his capable staff was handling flood related matters and other issues in his absence.


Mayor-President Kip Holden on Monday defended his trip to Taiwan last week, saying he was in…

Records The Advocate obtained through a public records request show Holden, indeed, got an email in June from a U.S. State Department representative. Attached to it was an invitation from the mayor of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for Holden to attend the 2016 Global Harbor Cities Forum.

Holden has said he used the forum to try to create partnerships for the upcoming Water Campus. It was his third trip to Taiwan during his tenure as mayor, with the expenses paid for by Taiwanese government each time.

In Baltimore, Holden was on the agenda to speak at a forum on 21st century neighborhoods. The agenda gave the title of his speech as "Responding to Crises in Baton Rouge."

Let the negative campaigning begin in Baton Rouge's mayoral race

In the same week Republican mayoral candidate Bodi White cemented the Louisiana Republican Party's endorsement, two of his competitors started dialing up their attacks on his campaign.

State Sen. White, R-Central, has sought to present himself as the GOP establishment candidate since the day he announced for mayor, flanked by high-ranking Republican politicians. White wrapped up the state Republican party's endorsement this week after already receiving the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican party's backing.

But as White's endorsements and fundraising accounts grow, so do the attacks on his campaign.

Republican Metro Councilman John Delgado unveiled a website this week called www.bodiwhitelies.com. The website questions White's past decisions on the Comite River Diversion project, his past votes in the legislature and his past involvement in the movement to create the city of St. George.

Independent candidate Darryl Gissel also released documents this week that spotlighted some of White's campaign contributions. When White was in the legislature, he passed a law to make it more difficult for the government to obtain mitigation land near the Comite River.

Gissel alleges that due to White's legislation, land for the Comite River Diversion Canal was instead purchased from a mitigation bank, a private venture that allows developers or the government to buy wetlands from a company to offset damage to the environment. Gissel alleges that people who sold and made money off the mitigation land -- made possible by White's legislation -- are now donating to White's mayoral campaign.

Former U.S. Marshal finds new career after retiring - running a sports bar

A few days into retirement, Kevin Harrison is already back to work.

But this time the former U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Louisiana, who ended his 44 years in law enforcement earlier this month, might serve you a drink at the bar.

Actually, he'll be the one running the place.

Harrison, along with business partner Miles Holley, is juggling calls from contractors as part of his plan to open a franchise of the sports-themed Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar in Ascension Parish.

"When you're an Irish cop, it's kinda what you do," laughed Harrison, who takes pride in his own Irish family background. "You'll hear that amongst cops, that a lot of Irish cops when they retire, they open a bar. I got one right here in front of me! The guy that owns the bar in this strip mall, (Pelican Pub), he's a retired New Orleans police officer, and he's an Irishman."

The 63-year-old, who grew up in the town of Supreme in Assumption Parish, said he was inspired to become a restaurateur because he wants to keep working and be of service.

"I don’t know if it's in our DNA or what it is," he said on Thursday. "I never did not work, since I was 13 years old. So all the way through college, I bartended and did those kinds of things to get through school."

His job as U.S. Marshal -- he was appointed to the job by President Barack Obama in 2010 -- involved overseeing deputy marshals who catch fugitives and provide security for the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge, among other roles.

The job can be heartbreaking. His colleague, Josie Wells, a 27-year-old deputy U.S. Marshal who'd newly joined Harrison's federal task force, was shot and killed in 2015 in the line of duty while trying to capture an accused double murderer in Baton Rouge. Speaking at a memorial, Harrison said Wells, who left behind a wife and son still in the womb, died “at the hands of a coward hiding there who never even faced him."

Harrison has tried on new roles before. He wore disguises as an undercover agent in the Drug Enforcement Agency and has also been a trooper, a sheriff's deputy and city police officer.

"I couldn't keep a job," Harrison joked.

He said he hopes his Walk-Ons franchise will be open for football season next year.

Advocate staff writers Andrea Gallo and Maya Lau contributed to this article.