Thursday, September 20, 2018

RISK TAKERS STICK IT TO TAXPAYERS IN LOUISIANA!


September 21st, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

RISK TAKERS STICK IT TO TAXPAYERS IN LOUISIANA!

It’s been ten years since the financial crisis on Wall Street filtered down through the insurance industry.  Many national insurance companies were under siege, and even though Louisiana is a small state in population, policyholders were affected proportionally at a much greater degree than in most other parts of the country.

Louisiana is a major customer for many insurance companies both nationally and worldwide. It’s not the population that matters. It’s where the risks are located. And there are a number of major companies operating in Louisiana that have significant exposure for insurance purposes.
Just imagine the cost of insuring the offshore oil industry operating along Louisiana’s coastline. How about the nation’s largest chemical industry located up and down the Mississippi River? And there are major risks to insure in the first, third, and fifth largest ports in this country all located in Louisiana. In short, Louisiana is in the top five of states that have the highest industrial insurance risks.

When the “too big to fail” giveaways took place back in 2008, the first major insurance company to be bailed out was the American International Group (AIG), which is the largest insurance conglomerate operating in United States today. AIG has a major presence in Louisiana, with a number of its subsidiary companies selling both property and casualty insurance as well as life insurance. The Federal Reserve System’s bailout of AIG cost taxpayers $85 billion. 

The first thing the AIG execs did after receiving your taxpayer financial infusion was to spend more than $440,000 entertaining their top executives at the posh St. Regis resort in California, including golf, massages, manicures, pedicures, the works. These folks sure know how to show their gratitude. You can imagine the criticism the company received for this junket. But after getting roasted for the taxpayer–funded weeklong retreat, far from learning a lesson, the same top executives thumbed their noses at taxpayers and kept on spending your money.

AIG begged and pleaded for more bailout money, and the federal government graciously complied by giving the faltering company an additional $37.8 billion in taxpayer–financed loans. So how did the top execs respond? They took off on an $86,000 hunting trip to shoot partridge in England. AIG’s philosophy is that they can have a party, but taxpayers end up with a hangover. 

So who is supposed to be watching out for these shenanigans? Who regulates companies like AIG? And why have they been allowed to get away with such outrageous and irresponsible behavior?  Simply put, this is the era of little or no regulation. Keep government off the backs of the private sector. Do not bog down insurance companies with all these regulations that tie their hands. You can trust them with your money…right? Let the free market reign.

In virtually every other state in the country, there is a consumer protection office, often located under the office of the Governor or the Attorney General, that independently checks and audits to be sure that regulated companies are following the law. Such oversight would apply not only to insurance companies, but also to utility companies that have a monopoly operating in certain areas of the state. But again, not in Louisiana. There is no independent check and balance. And the loser, of course, is the policy holder, the ratepayer, and the consumer.

The bottom line is that, thanks to the legislature, you have less protection as an insurance policy holder that just about any other state in America. And while the AIG shenanigans were ignored in Louisiana, the politicians in Washington keep telling us that companies like AIG, for the good of the country, have to be saved. 

The objective in Washington following the 2008 financial crisis was to take care of big banks and insurance companies like AIG. Little concern for homeowners and small investors who suffered big losses.  And here we are today as congress rolls back the fiscal requirements on the same banks and insurance companies that caused the financial crisis and wrecked the economy 10 years ago.
The goal seemed to be to keep billing taxpayers no matter what the cost. For while in the eye of politicians these companies are “too big to fail,” you and I are apparently not too big to fleece.
Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

IN DEFENSE OF DUMB COUNTRY LAWYERS!


September 13th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

IN DEFENSE OF DUMB COUNTRY LAWYERS!

I have a confession to make. And President Trump is not going to like it.  I’m a southern country lawyer. Darn proud of it.  In the president’s words, I may be a “dumb southern country lawyer.”  I just hope the president does not have a sneering contempt for all of us Louisiana lawyers who cut our teeth practicing law in the rural areas of the Bayou State.

If you are unaware of the President’s supposed pot shots at those of us who ply our trade in the more pastoral boroughs of the state, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodard has out a new “tell all” book entitled “Fear: Trump in the White House.”  Woodward you recall was the reporter who dropped the bombshell on the Nixon White House back in 1972, and was portrayed by Robert Redford in the film, “All the President’s Men.”

Woodward writes of many revelations claiming he received insider information from current White House operatives who listen to the President on a daily basis.  And, according to the book, Donald Trump makes it clear there is no love lost between him and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is quoted as saying that:  "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb Southerner. . . . He couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer."

Now I’m reading this to mean that “a one-person country lawyer” is about as simple and elementary as you can get if legal guidance is required.  No real talent or expertise required.  Just a little folksy off the shoulder opinion will do.

Do you have to be an Ivy League barrister to have the knowledge and expertise to make sound and compelling legal decisions? It’s a fact that all the current members of the U.S. Supreme Court attended either Harvard or Yale.  But maybe that’s part of the problem with a number of questionable high court decisions.  As Alabama law professor Ronald Krotoszynski wrote recently, “Are an attorney’s perspectives and capabilities “defined by the three years he or she spent in law school? Shouldn’t professional experience and judgment matter too? “

I graduated from Tulane Law School back in 1966 and moved to the rural town of Ferriday, Louisiana with a population of 5000. There were a few other lawyers in the surrounding parishes, most of who graduated from LSU.  No specialized legalese in these rural courthouses.  Lawyers had to know a good bit about all phases of the law, both criminal and civil.

I handled civil cases ranging from divorces and small claims and stood toe to toe with big shot eastern attorneys representing General Motors and a number of major oil companies.  On the criminal side, I was often appointed by the local judge to represent a cross section of those accused of robberies right up to capital cases. Many readers will remember the notorious Jim Leslie murder case that happened in Baton Rouge back in the 1970s.  Leslie’s killer was gunned down in Concordia Parish and I was appointed to defend this killer. I can tell you the whole sorted story.

Here’s my point.  Country lawyers, particularly in the South, rarely take a narrowly defined career path. Sure, an attorney has to know the law.  But there also is a need to comprehend the practicalities of how the law should be applied and how such application affects and impacts the average citizen.

I’ve come across a number of outstanding lawyers who graduated from Tulane, LSU and Southern law schools. They often have both solid legal aptitude and a good bit of plain old common sense.  Our judges, by and large, stack up with barristers anywhere in the country, and we certainly have the legal talent that is qualified to stand shoulder to shoulder with any justice presently on the U.S. Supreme Court.

So give us a break Mr. President.  We might surprise you down here in the deepest of the deep southern states. Yes, some up north may call us dumb southern country lawyers.  But I have worked with many Louisiana attorneys, particularly in smaller towns, that can go eyeball to eyeball with any Ivey leaguer.  Simply put Mr. President, we wear out southern country lawyer title proudly.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.




Thursday, September 06, 2018

LOUISIANA AND THE TURMOIL IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!


Thursday, September 6th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LOUISIANA AND THE TURMOIL IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!

We all know that there is a crisis in the Catholic Church right now. Allegations of sexually abusive clergy are pouring in worldwide.  Unfortunately, the roots of this terrible tragedy engulfing the Catholic Church have strong ties to the Bayou Sate.  Here's how National Public Radio in Minnesota titled their investigative story on sexual abuse by priests: “It All Began in Lafayette, Louisiana.” And it did, back in 1984.  
Lafayette criminal defense attorney Ray Mouton was contacted back then by the Catholic Dioceseof Lafayette.  Diocese officials badly need a criminal defense attorney who was a Catholic and who would have the church's interest at heart.  Ray felt an obligation to help his church, but quickly learned that criminal charges had been filed against a local cleric, Father Gilbert Gauthe, who was the first Catholic priest in U.S. history to be criminally charged with molesting numerous children throughout South Louisiana. 
Ray had been a longtime friend and political supporter of mine, and he would tell me how this case had taken over his life.  He was quoted in USA Todayrecently in saying that “he waded into his defense of Gauthe with a certain naiveté. As a criminal defense lawyer, he thought he had seen the worst of humanity, but this was his mother church. Gauthe must be an aberration, he reasoned.  "I honestly believed the church was a repository of goodness," Mouton said. "As it turns out, it wasn't.”
Ray was appalled at the growing number of priests involved in the same molestation accusations. He ended up fighting with church officials who opposed any effort to make his evidence public.  "The church fought me at every turn," Ray said. "They wanted me to plead him out and make it go away." 

The case cost Ray dearly.  His marriage ended, his law practice was in ruins and he became an alcoholic.  “I worked, battling the diocese, the American church and the Vatican until I literally burned myself up spiritually, mentally, and physically."   My friend now lives peacefully in southern France.  Ray has written a novel related to his experience called “In God’s House.”He is no longer a Catholic but he does slip into a local church from time to time. "I only go into churches to light candles for all the innocent children whose names I will never know," Ray said, "all those children who have been abused."
A second good Louisiana friend, Jason Berry from New Orleans, has written compellingly about similar problems in the church in his book, “Lead Us Not into Temptation,” published back in 1992.  In his forward for Jason’s book, Father Andrew Greely concludes that sexual abuse may be the greatest scandal in the history of religion in America.  Now this was written some 26 years ago. Yet the disgraces within the Catholic Church would seem to be at an all-time high today.

Jason, who is a devout Catholic, has been one of the most compelling voices in church reform for a number of years. His writings have received numerous awards, both within and out of Catholic circlesincluding the Investigative Reporters and Editors Best Book Award for his book“Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”Simply put, Jason’s view is that the church hierarchy needs purifying, not the faith itself.

Now I’m not Catholic.  But I’m close.  I was married in the Catholic Church, my three daughters were baptized as Catholics, and I have been attending mass for years.  Just two weeks ago, I was the only layman joining 20 Benedictine monks on my personal weeklong retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Covington, Louisiana. My home state is 28% Catholic, and like most Louisianans, I am deeply concerned about this ongoing church crisis.

I want to give accolades to the Ray Moutons, the Jason Berrys and a host of other lay Catholics who have the courage to openly confront the abuse that has been allowed to simmer in Louisiana and throughout the nation. And maybe that’s part of the answer.  More believers who stand by their faith yet are stirred to actively protest.  Hopefully, such committed Catholics are out there in growing numbers.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Meeting John McCain!


August 30th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

JOHN MCCAIN AND BUDDY ROEMER! 

John McCain was a rare commodity in U. S. politics.  He was a war hero, full of good-natured irreverence, and a contrarian in the Republican Party.  McCain made it abundantly clear that he put America before party politics.  And when they both served in congress, McCain and Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer became good friends.

I met and visited Senator McCain on one occasion at the invitation of Roemer. The meeting was at the former governor’s Baton Rouge office, and McCain made it very clear to me that he loved Louisiana. He told me outside of his home state of Arizona, “there’s no place I’d rather be to enjoy the great food and the company of really lively and interesting folks than down her in Louisiana.”
Buddy Roemer had been out of the limelight for seventeen years, once he stepped down as Louisiana’s Governor in 1991. But when Senator John McCain wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, Roemer found himself back in the catbird’s seat as a major player on the national scene.

Roemer signed on with the McCain team over a year before the election when the Arizona senator was just one of many in the pack. The Louisiana governor was on my syndicated radio show early on, touting McCain’s credentials when his campaign seemed to be in free-fall. By then Roemer had emerged as a key McCain adviser, and was featured in TV spots nationwide.

Buddy Roemer has always been a gambler. When he was governor, his campaign disclosure statements regularly showed winnings at poker games held at the Governor’s mansion. And Roemer has never been averse to playing a long shot, even on his own campaigns. He fought uphill races to get elected to Congress in the 1980s, and was in the rear of the pack in governor’s race when the campaign began back in 1987.

During the 2008 presidential election, Louisiana Senator David Vitter had initially pushed Louisiana republicans to support the quixotic campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But when Giuliani’s campaign crashed and burned, Roemer quietly began lining up support and raising campaign funds for McCain. If the Republican candidate had ended up being successful in that coming fall presidential election, Roemer would have emerged as a cabinet secretary, ambassador, or hold some other high post in a McCain administration. 

When George Bush was elected president in 2000, Roemer was under serious consideration to be Ambassador to China. He used to play tennis with the former President Bush 43, and stayed in touch with a cross-section of Republicans throughout the country.

After getting out of elective office, Roemer had been involved in several successful bank ventures. But the lure of public service was still there. If John McCain became the next president, the odds were pretty good that a former Governor of Louisiana was going to be heading to Washington, DC.
McCain’s presidential aspirations were unsuccessful, but he did carry Louisiana with 60% of the vote.  After being side tracked by Barack Obama, he went on to spend 10 more successful years in the U.S. Senate.  Roemer built more banks and became a popular Louisiana author.

If you had to sum up John McCain’s life in a couple of words, they would be “honor and character.” He ruffled the feathers of a number of republicans by working with democrats across the aisle on issues he felt were good for America.  His philosophy was simple - put country before party politics.
Knowing of his impending death, McCain said about his life: “ I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. … I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.  I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”

Sums up a pretty darn good life.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Saturday, August 25, 2018

WHY ELECT SO MANY STATEWIDE OFFICES IN LOUISIANA?


August 23rd, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

WHY ELECT SO MANY STATEWIDE OFFICES IN LOUISIANA?

Current Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has brought up an interesting idea.  Have the governor and the lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket.  Such a systemexists in a majority of states across the nation.

As Nugesser states:  “The ticket idea seems to work well in other states. We ought to consider it. The only way I can do the best job I can do is to have a good working relationship with the governor.”

Under the present Louisiana constitution, the lieutenant governor has no assigned duties. The person holding the office is at the beck and call of the governor.

When I served as Secretary of State back in the 1980’s, I would often make fun of my friend, Lt. Governor Bobby Freeman. If he were in attendance at a gathering, I would tell the crowd that I knew what the Lt. Governor did all day. “As best I can figure, thelieutenantgovernor gets up in the morning to see if per chance the governor died the night before. If not, he’s free go fishing, play bouree, or do whatever he wants.”

Freeman would always feign laughter, but the point was made. The job has no constitutional responsibilities. The legislature has put the lieutenant governorin charge of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, but do we really need to elect a bureaucrat to see that the trash is picked up in state parks and museum pictures are dusted off?

Seven states across the country do not even have a lieutenant governor, and Tennessee and West Virginia just gave the title to the president of the State Senate. In 25 states, the governor and the lieutenant governorrun as a team on the same ticket, similar to how national elections for president and vice president are selected. In fact, only 17 states have entirely separate elections for governor and lieutenant governor.  In seven states, they don’t even have a lieutenant governor.

Nungesser’s suggestion of having the two offices run as a ticket actually makes pretty good sense. The governor would then have a lieutenant governorof his or her selection, and would be able to assign duties to a colleague well trusted to work together as a team effort.

Quite frankly, several other statewide offices could also be appointed by the governor as is done in a number of states. I held two such offices that could well go on the chopping block. The Secretary of State is an appointed position in 12 states and three more don’t even have the office that some refer to as a “high end or glorified clerk of court.” The Louisiana constitution requires that the Secretary of State be the keeper of the “Great Seal of Louisiana.” I was Louisiana’s Secretary of State in the 1980s. I looked for the Seal during my entire 8 years in office, but never could find it.

And how about the office of Louisiana Insurance Commissioner? Would you believe there are only 11 insurance commissioners elected in the entire country? Commissioners spend a good part of their time raising campaign dollars from the very people they are supposed to regulate. Is this the best way to assure policyholders of reasonable insurance rates? Of course not.  I also held this elected office, and it could and should go on the chopping block.
Then there is the Agriculture Commissioner. Twelve states select, while 38 states appoint. It must make Louisianans more at ease to know that some politician is checking up on the veggies and milk that is consumed. There’s a move by a number of education groups to elect the Superintendent of Education. Oh great! Let’s put a politician in charge to screw up the education of our kids even more. Why not just elect ‘em all right down to dogcatchers and trash haulers, right?

In a time of major fiscal crisis caused by inept political oversight, does Louisiana need to elect more positions than any other state in the nation? Some consolidation would seem to make good sense for a state on the verge of going broke. The Lt. Governor is on the right track.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.








Thursday, August 16, 2018

IN LOUISIANA, JUST TELL EM’ I LIED!


August 16th, 2018
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
IN LOUISIANA, JUST TELL EM’ I LIED!
There seems to be a wealth of fabricators at the state capitol in Baton Rouge.  Gov. Edwards is accusing U.S. Senator John Kennedy of making "untruthful comments" on the early release of state prisoners.  Kennedy has countered back calling out the Governor for “bending the truth.”  Two state senators physically squared off against each other in a local bar.  And both Democrat and Republican legislators have accused each other of “hiding the truth” as to just whose at fault over the state’s perilous financial condition.

So what gives? Is this a new confrontational attitude in Louisiana politics?  Not really. The Bayou State has been operating in a dysfunctional manner for years, with a long and colorful history of legislative brawls, viciously partisan debate and charges of lying.

I was in the middle of such a legislative altercation in my first few months as a Louisiana state senator back in 1972.  A controversial proposal to create a new trade school system was up for final passage in the waning minutes of the legislative session.  I sat next to Senator “Big Jim” Jumonville, who was as brash and tenacious in debate on the senate floor as they come.  He just never took no for an answer.  Jumonville was opposing last minute amendments that would take one of the trade schools out of his district and move it to Baton Rouge.

The legislation would die if not passed at the stroke of midnight, and the official clock high on the back wall of the senate chamber was ticking away.  With only seconds left, Jumonville pulled off his boot and heaved it at the clock in an effort to stave off the deadline.  He missed.  Off came the other boot as Big Jim hollered out to his colleague at the podium, “You are a liar.”  He then rose back to throw the remaining boot.  I put myself in grave danger by grabbing Jumonville’s arm in an effort to calm him down. He missed the clock a second time, and time ran out.  I don’t think Big Jim ever forgave me.

And who can forget the Governor Earl Long story of reneging on a promise to a group of south Louisiana constituents? The blow-by-blow account was given to me by my deceased friend, Camille Gravel, who was on Long’s staff and a witness to the Governor’s comments.  Long was reluctant to live up to a campaign commitment, and Gravel inquired as to what he should tell the group.  Without batting an eye, Long told Gravel:  “Just tell them I lied.”

Dutch Morial was Louisiana’s first black legislator, and went on to serve as a judge and two-term Mayor of New Orleans.  With much humor and gusto, Dutch relished telling friends of his first day at the state capitol as a new legislator.  Representatives have seatmates, with their two desks sitting side by side.  As chance would have it, Dutch sat right next to Representative Jesse McLain, who represented an archconservative district in southeast Louisiana that had been a hotbed of Klu Klux Klan activity.

Now Dutch was from a Creole background and quite light skinned. As Dutch told me years later of that first day — when he took his seat, Jesse leaned over and whispered: “Where’s that lyin’ N…..? (Yes the N word.)  Dutch said he just smiled, looked around the room for a minute, then leaned over to Jesse, got right up in his face, and said:  “You’re looking at him.”   Then he burst out laughing.  A flustered McClain excused himself from the legislature for the rest of the day.

So as tensions continue to mount up in the nation’s capitol, tell those congressmen from other states that they are playing softball with their inter party scrabbling. If they want to learn how to experience real hardball politics, they can certainly find a “learning experience” here in Louisiana.  We have plenty of political lyin’, cussin’ & discussin’, fumin’ and fightin’ going on in the deepest of the deep southern states.  Maybe it’s in the roux or the Tabasco sauce.  But it’s always lively here when Louisiana politics is involved. So just come on down.

********

Telling lies is a fault in a boy, an art in a lover, an accomplishment in a bachelor, and second nature in a politician.”

Helen Rowland

Pease and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.






Thursday, August 09, 2018

THE SEARING OF A GREAT CITY’S SOUL!


Thursday, August 9th, 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana

THE SEARING OF A GREAT CITY’S SOUL!

The Queen City of the South is under siege.  No, not from hurricanes. This time, the siege is from within.  New Orleans is known as the city that care forgot.  But it’s been hard to let the good times roll in the Big Easy when the dice keep coming up snake eyes.

New Orleans is in a battle to stay afloat as it deals with major street crime, inept public officials, and a dysfunctional criminal justice system where even federal officials can no longer be trusted.  Author James Lee Burke writes about this corruption and dysfunction in his novel Last Car to Elysian Fields.  “One of the most beautiful cities in the Western hemisphere was killed three times, and not just by forces of nature.”

New Orleans is a city that for years has had the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, where multiple killings often happen on a daily basis, a town that is rated as one of the five most dangerous cities in the world.  But even with such a reputation, it was hard to fathom the recent crime wave that attacked the Crescent City.  Recently, in just two weeks, 39 people have been shot, including 4 children.  Over 22 shootings in just a few weeks; a war zone. Such violence goes beyond the street shootings that seem to happen almost daily in New Orleans. When a gunman indiscriminately fires into a crowd, it’s an act of terrorism.

Many crimes go unreported out of the sense of frustration that nobody will do anything about it anyway. Recently, a young relative of mine was walking uptown from the French Quarter. Just across Canal, in one of the busier sections of the city, a man steps out of nowhere and without rhyme or reason, punches him in the face. In an instant, my relative had become a victim of the “knockout game,” a brutal ritual where street thugs approach an innocent bystander and try, in one blow, to knock him out. He suffered a concussion and had his jaw wired shut for weeks.  This type of street violence seems to happen all the time.

Drug deals gone bad play a major role in a majority of the killings according to the New Orleans Police Department. The city is a cesspool of illegal drug activity in many neighborhoods, even in broad daylight. Recently, I watched the Tom Cruise movie “Jack Reacher: Never go Back,” that was made in the Crescent City.  A local drug dealer tells Cruise: “More s--t in the streets of New Orleans then they make in Afghanistan.”

City officials are reportedly asking for state and federal help, and for good reason.  
After Katrina, the governor sent in 300 hundred national guard troops to maintain order. And this time, the current governor needs to send in a lot more.  Recently, the governor of Colorado committed more than 600 guardsmen to help feed cattle whose welfare had been threatened by blizzards. If you can bring in that many guardsmen for cattle, the state should be willing to do that amount and more for its people.

Some might argue that the presence of soldiers on the streets will dampen tourism.  Not so in my opinion.  After Katrina, I hosted a daily radio program in New Orleans and was out each evening for walks and to meet friends for dinner.  National guardsmen were prominent throughout the downtown area, and we all felt much safer because of their presence. I was in the Louisiana National Guard for 12 years, and I can tell you it would be good training for our guardsman. So turn loose the National Guard Governor, to give a good level of comfort to the millions of tourists who help drive the state’s economy.

New Orleans can be either a unique place to live and work, or it can slowly drift into the cosmos due to a justified fear of crime.  There’s a fight to keep the bright, dynamic young leadership in the city and be an integral force in molding the future of New Orleans.  But it all begins with feeling safe, doesn’t it?  And right now, the Crescent City has a long, long way to go.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com