It was a year when Louisiana joined the other states of the Confederacy in becoming solidly Republican and bright red (but not crimson — never crimson).
After what seemed like a decade of Koch brothers TV ads, Bill Cassidy defeated Mary Landrieu for the U.S. Senate seat she held for 18 years. He did this by revealing the shocking fact that a U.S. senator actually knew and had met with, on more than one occasion, the president of the United States.
In the 6th Congressional District, another well-financed Republican, Garret Graves, won the seat vacated by Cassidy by beating an 87-year-old convicted felon and star of the worst “reality” TV show since the invention of television. (In their only debate, former Gov. Edwin Edwards and Graves called each other liars. Observers were perplexed when neither candidate’s pants caught on fire. …)
And in the 5th Congressional District, the winner was Republican Ralph Abraham, who hasn’t, so far as we know, yet kissed a staff member or pledged allegiance to “Duck Dynasty.” (Is this the end of the glamour up there?)
Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to rack up frequent-flier miles as he jetted around the country to appear at conservative Republican events, polishing his résumé as he readies himself to become president, or vice president, or a Cabinet member in a Republican administration, or a member of a conservative think tank, or a Washington lobbyist, or president of a private religious college, or, most likely, a commentator on Fox News.
Jindal did pop back to Louisiana on occasion to cut a ribbon or a budget.
With the governor increasingly likely to wind up in the District of Columbia in some capacity when his term in Louisiana ends, in a perfectly ironic world, he would buy Mary Landrieu’s $2 million Washington mansion.
Both Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter reversed their stands and announced opposition to the higher academic standards of Common Core, pointing out that it was a national effort and therefore suspect. They prefer Louisiana’s own academic standards — which include the teaching of creationism in the classroom.
Here are some of the more significant stories and quotes of the year, painstakingly taken from actual front pages of our various Advocates. You can’t make this stuff up …
A matter of priorities
The year’s most telling sentence was in an Advocate special report on “Giving Away Louisiana,” in a story about how much money the state puts into movie production:
“Louisiana sank more into ‘Green Lantern’ ($35 million) than it is putting into the University of New Orleans this year.”
Artist at work
After meeting with other governors and President Barack Obama at the White House, Gov. Bobby Jindal used the occasion to stand in front of the West Wing and lash out at the president for opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and focusing on raising the minimum wage.
Jindal’s remarks led Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, to term him a “cheap-shot artist.”
The Louisiana-Mexican border?
“This is the first time in our history that a governor has said that the U.S.-Mexican border is a threat to Louisiana.”
— East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s trip to the Texas-Mexican border to weigh in on immigration. (Holden is running for lieutenant governor in 2015.)
The other immigrants
“You would think it would be a natural for him to claim that with authority and speak from that point of view. For some reason, he seems reluctant to do so.”
— Pearson Cross, head of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette political science department, about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s not focusing on his own family’s immigration background when going to the Texas-Mexican border to call for stopping the flow of thousands of Central American children
The American way
“We, like most American families and businesses, use our credit card for efficiency and cash management.”
— New Roads Mayor Robert Myer, after public records showed he had charged $133,979 since 2011 on his city-issued credit card, including airline tickets and hotel rooms in Miami, movie tickets and purchases at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and a Mardi Gras store in Metairie
In November, the Jindal administration came up $171 million short on its revenue estimate, forcing it to reduce spending by that amount over the next seven months. (It was rumored that Mayor Robert Myer, of New Roads, offered to put the shortage on his credit card.)
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, was caught on a security camera kissing a female aide. McAllister was elected with the help of the “Duck Dynasty” family, running as a devoted family man and Christian.
This led PSC member and former Congressman Clyde Holloway to proclaim him “a dead duck.” McAllister decided to run again but came in fourth, with 11 percent of the vote.
The annointed “Duck Dynasty” candidate, Zach Dasher, also finished out of the running with 22 percent.
It’s money that matters
U.S. Sen. David Vitter came out strongly for unlimited contributions from super PACs to finance his run for governor.
What, no guillotine?
“I’m going to bring back the electric chair.”
— State Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie, on proposed legislation to diversify ways to execute the 81 men and two women awaiting death in Louisiana prisons
Road to Morocco
Baton Rouge City Court Judge Yvette Alexander took taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and Italy before going to Morocco for a National Bar Association meeting that cost at least $2,898.
State Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, failed in his effort to have the Legislature label towns (specifically Washington in St. Landry Parish) as speed-trap towns.
‘We don’t need no stinking law’
East Baton Rouge Parish’s Metro Council voted to keep anti-sodomy laws on the books despite the fact that the Louisiana statute on sodomy was declared unconstitutional a decade ago.
Holy grope, Batman!
In sports news, New Orleans Saints fans sometimes generated more excitement in the stands than the team did on the field. Saints tight end (ironically) Jimmy Graham did a “Lambeau leap” into the stands after a touchdown and found himself being patted on the posterior by a fan dressed as The Joker.
And when a Cincinnati Bengals player scored a TD and attempted to toss the football to a young lady in Bengals colors, the ball was intercepted by a guy in Saints gear, who used “Mardi Gras rules” to defend his action. (Carnival experts say the rule did not apply, because he didn’t indicate he wanted the ball thrown to him by removing his shirt.)
Off he goes
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted by a federal jury on 20 of 21 charges that he traded favors for cash and gifts while mayor. He was sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison (spurring speculation that he will run for Congress when his sentence ends …).
Without a clue
“When I get a plan, I’ll let you know.”
— Fern Barnett, new police chief of Sorrento, who told the Town Council that she had no plan to get the defunct Police Department up and running again
The Wyatt Earp defense
“We make votes here all the time that are sometimes controversial, that sometimes upset groups of people.”
— State Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, explaining why legislators should be able to pack a pistol inside the State Capitol.
Playing the George card
“Those who oppose them now will look like George Wallace standing on the steps of the schoolhouse door, trying to keep two young African-American students from entering the all-white University of Alabama.”
— Metro Councilman John Delgado, addressing East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council members about the “fairness ordinance” banning discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance failed by an 8-4 vote.
Speaking of hyperbole
“I think we had already put the nail in the coffin with these other annexations. Now, the coffin has been dropped in the ground and they’re starting to throw dirt on it.”
— Attorney Mary Olive Pierson, on L’Auberge Casino and Hotel’s request to be annexed into Baton Rouge rather than be a part of the proposed city of St. George.
Terror in the ’burbs
Metro Councilman and Master of Hyperbole John Delgado, commenting on the efforts by St. George organizers to break away from Baton Rouge and set up their own city, compared them to al-Qaida, said they were trying to destroy “our community” and added, “I condemn them for the terrorists that they are.”
Tough day at the orifice
Cheron Brylski, a New Orleans political consultant, said in a Facebook post that while Mayor Mitch Landrieu can sometimes be a (bodily orifice), he is nevertheless a “productive” one.
The music man
“I am a huge music lover. My best friend is a good musician. I have no problem at all with the culture of New Orleans.”
— Sidney Torres IV, after suing Buffa’s Bar for loud music that disturbed him in his next-door mansion
Oh, we feel all better now!
After a federal scoring system rated 1,827 Louisiana bridges “structurally deficient,” Department of Transportation and Development Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda said, “It does not mean unsafe. This is just a technical term that is used to describe a bridge where some of the elements have deteriorated or they have been damaged.”
That sinking feeling
“If they could make this sinkhole go away and replace the swamp like it was, I wouldn’t take a penny. In fact, I would donate to that cause. But that’s not going to happen.”
— Mike Schaff, Bayou Corne resident, on the buyout of homeowners there who lost their homes to the Texas Brine sinkhole in August 2012
The judge is sinking too
“My frustration is why are we working and kneading me up as a judge over these small claims, and I’m having to deal with 1,000 New Orleans lawyers.”
— District Judge Guy Holdridge, complaining about the lack of settlement of suits by the state and Assumption Parish against Texas Brine and its insurers involving the Bayou Corne sinkhole
“I can get out and hustle things for Baton Rouge — why can’t Walter Monsour get things to fill his gap? I can give him a class on how to hustle money, but you can’t do it from behind a desk.”
— East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden, objecting to the parish Redevelopment Authority’s request for $3 million from the Metro Council to keep operating. Monsour later resigned as the authority’s executive director.
How about ‘Confederacy of Dunces’?
State Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, withdrew his bill to make the St. James version of the Bible the official “state book” after his proposal got national attention (and not in a good way).
Gridlock makes her blush
“It is an embarrassment.”
— State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Columb, D-Baton Rouge, about the city’s interstate highway traffic problems