Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Congress All Talk-Little Action on Flood Insurance!

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Louisiana’s congressional members of both parties were throwing cheers and high fives. They had done it.  They had put an end to the proposed outrageous flood insurance rates.
 “I’m very proud,” beamed democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.  Her challenger in the coming fall election, Congressman Bill Cassidy, papered the state with press releases exclaiming, “This is a great day for Louisiana.”

None of back slapping statements alluded to the fact that these same members of congress had been responsible for the huge premium increases in the first place. Every member of the current Louisiana congressional delegation, as well as state insurance officials had been asleep at the switch when federal legislation proposed the massive increase in the cost of flood insurance for Louisiana property owners, and they had failed to oppose it. No one wanted to talk about that.

Even the press was gushing over the purported legislative victory.  A Times Picayune editorial bellowed, “Hallelujah. Homeowners can stop worrying about whether they will still be able to afford their homes or whether excessive flood insurance premiums will force them out.”  The Morning Advocate chimed in calling the legislation a “remarkable achievement” and “a victory made for Louisiana.”

So property owners in flood prone areas can rest in peace knowing congress has stopped the huge rise in the cost of flood insurance.  Right?  Well, not quite.  The Times Picayune editorial stated that $200,000.00 in flood coverage would cost $2,000.00 a year.  But remember, this is just for the current year.  Under the new legislation, insurance rates can then rise up to 18% a year every year thereafter.  In addition, a yearly fee or surcharge of up to $250.00 can and will be levied on each policy.  Every year.

Just how much will these increases cause the cost of a flood policy to rise?  The first year will see a jump from $2000.00 to $2360.00. After three years this same $2000.00 policy will jump up to $3286.00.  After five years, the increase will total $4575.00.  And ten years from now?  That same $2000.00 policy will cost the property owner $10,223.00.  And this does not include that surcharge of up to $250.00 per year.  According to congress, these rates are supposed to be affordable for the average homeowner?  Come on, man!

A cynic might conclude that congress merely bought some time to get through the next election before property owners find out what a sham this new solution is.  Remember, these figures only apply to flood insurance rates.  Property owners in Louisiana still are paying the highest property insurance rates in the nation -- far above the national average of $2,700.00.

When you add flood insurance costs to the regular property insurance premium of a home in the $200,000.00 range and add the surcharge, many Louisiana homeowners will pay more than $5000.00 for the first year, then a continuing and dramatic rise in rates that will be required to own a home.  And this is something to high five about?  It’s obvious that congress, particularly its Louisiana members, needs to go back to the drawing board and find reasonable solutions to this immense and growing problem.

There are workable options, and that’s a discussion for another column.  But all the cheering over this quick fix by congress is little more than smoke and mirrors. Louisianans need real long-term solutions for a problem of homeowner affordability that will not go away and cannot wait.  Not even till the next election.


“It’s not hurricanes that are causing high insurance rates, but bad public policy.”
Policy Analyst Michelle Minton

Peace and Justice

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  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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Louisiana Governor Back on Campaign Trail!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


It shouldn’t have surprised anyone paying attention to Louisiana politics.  Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards made it official this week. He will be a candidate for the U.S. Congress in the coming fall election.  The political prognosticators say the congressional district has been gerrymandered by the Louisiana legislature to favor a republican candidate.  Edwards feels otherwise.

Edward Washington Edwards, the Silver Fox, has run for office in twelve different elections, and won eleven times.  That’s what he does. EWE is a consummate politician who loves the political limelight. He would have run for governor again if he could, but state law prohibits him from doing so.  He was elected four times to congress back in the 1960s.  Now, for a variety of reasons, he wants to go back again.

The 6th district meanders from east of Baton Rouge, through parts of the capitol city, then down both sides of the Mississippi River to deep South Louisiana in Lafourche Parish.  It was cut up to protect an incumbent republican, and it’s a mishmash of irresponsible legislation.  Louisiana legislators should be held in contempt for cutting up this, and the other congressional districts throughout the state in such a reckless way.

This district is rock solid republican so that it’s almost out of the question that a democrat can win.  Edwards is quick to quote Billy Joel’s song, Only the Good DieYoung, in saying, “You didn’t count on me!” And he could be right.  Edwards could be the only democrat that has any chance of winning the 6th district.

At his announcement on Monday, Edwards was asked about whether age would be an issue.  He is 86, and will be 87 on Election Day.  His response?  “I’m not going to make age an issue.  I’m not going to point to how young and inexperienced all my republican opponents are.”  Touché!  He also pointed out that there is a republican candidate running for congress in South Carolina who is one hundred and one.  “I will have served seven more terms before I get that old,” Edwards retorted.

What about not be able to get much done because he would be new a member with no seniority?  “It’s a new day in Washington,” he said. “Look at the three leading candidates for the republican presidential nomination.  Three U.S. senators (Rubio of Florida, Cruz of Texas, and Paul of Kentucky) all of them have been in Washington less than two years.”  He also pointed out that he worked with republicans when he was in congress back in the 60s, and wants to continue to do so – a democrat wanting to work with republicans -- something that doesn’t happen too often in Washington.

The big question mark here -- can he win?  It all may come down to the transformation of charisma into actual votes. Edwards is a political rock star.  Whether voters hate him or love him, most are captivated by his ability to entertain.  They laugh at his wit, and love to hear him talk. But how many of those who find him entertaining will vote for him?

He can go down the bayou towards Thibodaux and garner republican Cajun voters that no other democrat could get.  The question is: will he be able to entice enough of these normally republican voters to vote for him.

With a 32-year-old wife and a new baby at eighty-six, many would think the former governor would be otherwise occupied.  But he’s looking for one more grasp at the golden ring. And maybe a bit of redemption.  Whatever his reasons, don’t count the Cajun Prince out.


“In this day and age where liberals and conservatives are at each other's throats, it's nice to know there are still places like Louisiana where they view politics purely as entertainment.”
Ned Stark

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  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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What Happened to the Louisiana Governor?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal threw a hissy fit in front of the White House earlier this month. He joined other governors in having a non-partisan luncheon with the president, then walked out on the lawn and began blasting away at what he perceived to be the Obama ineptitude. Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy called Jindal a “cheap shot artist,” and even Jindal’s fellow republican colleagues rolled their eyes in dismay.

So was Jindal out of line in taking pot shots at the president?  From Jindal’s perspective -- No.  Jindal seems to be feeling the heat of a number of rising stars in the Republican ranks.  The current presidential talk centers around the likes of new Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with Midwest governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been bogged down in a bridge scandal at home, but still ranks high in national polls of prospective republican presidential candidates.

With the crop of new guys on the block sweeping past him, Jindal no doubt fears that any possible presidential shot could be slipping away.  While it may seem desperate to some, Jindal is going after red meat.  Throwing bombs at the president may be his only chance to firm up his support with the Obama haters, of which there are substantial numbers, and to hold on to a semblance of staying in the race for national office. It’s fourth and long, and Jindal seems to be throwing a Hail Mary.

So what caused the demise of Bobby Jindal?  Six years ago, as the 2008 presidential election was taking shape, the Louisiana Governor was the fair-haired boy of the national Republican Party. In the eyes of many, Jindal was on a fast track to the Oval Office. Here’s what I wrote in a column dated September, 2008:

“To say that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s political stock continues to rise would be an understatement. He has been regularly profiled as a future presidential candidate in a number of national publications. If you want to get an idea of how Jindal is being perceived around the rest of the country, take a gander at the latest edition of Esquire. The 75th anniversary issue profiles the most influential people in the world today. A one-page profile is given to such luminaries as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Chinese Communist leader Deng Xiaoping, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama. One page each. Bobby Jindal is given 10 pages.”

And as Jindal crisscrossed the nation year after year in pursuit of building an even grander political stature, he always told his audiences that his dream job, the only one he wanted, was being Governor of Louisiana.  Unfortunately, the folks back home in the Bayou State weren’t buying it.  Jindal punted on his “dream job,” and in recent years has become an absentee chief of state.  The current Louisiana legislative session began this week, and many legislators say that until his opening address, they had not seen hide nor hair of the governor in over a year.  Numerous legislative leaders fear the state budget is in shambles and has caused massive cuts in higher education and healthcare programs.  Jindal has continued to ignore the minutiae of running state government.

Jindal’s popularity is lower than any governor in recent memory.  The state’s largest newspaper, The Times Picayune, ran recent poll results headlining, “Bobby Jindal One of the Nation’s Most Unpopular Governors.”  The poll put Jindal’s popularity in the state at 35%, with only one in four voters wanting Jindal to run for president.

But is criticizing Obama while paying little attention to his home state a good strategy for Jindal to grow a national base? Apparently not.  Last week, most of the republican presidential contenders, including Jindal, spoke at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference).  A straw poll of some 3000 attendees had Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with a big lead, garnering 31%, while Jindal barely blipped with 2% favoring him.

The message here is simple.  To gain national political stature and be in the running for national office, a candidate has to have a record on which to run.  Jindal’s misguided strategy caused him to abandon the home front and fail to build the foundation required to make a run for higher office.

So Jindal is making what many believe to be a last desperate effort to gain some national traction.  Maybe not a Hail Mary, for every now and then one of these attempts actually works.  No, it’s a Hail Bobby.  But because he failed to effectively carry out his “dream job,” the odds are there will be no one at the end to catch the ball.


“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble,
you wouldn't sit for a month.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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  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

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Whole World Knows Sunshine!

Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


It could be the most recognized American song worldwide. Go to a small Asian community were little or no English is spoken.  Then start humming “You Are My Sunshine.”  More likely than not, the locals will join in singing along.  Everyone knows the words to a down home tune written by a Louisiana country singer and movie star. And he was sworn in as Louisiana Governor seventy years ago this week.

Jimmy Davis was a popular country singer in the 1930s, and made a number of western movies including the likes of Cyclone Prairie Rangers, Mississippi Rhythm and Square Dance Katy.  But throughout the world, he made his mark with “Sunshine.”

I was in Cambodia a few years back right at the Golden Triangle where Burma and Thailand converge.  Breakfast at a rural village outdoor cafe’ with dirt floors, and a young waitress who knew as few words in English.  “You American.  I love America. I sing about America.”  Then, with a big grim on her face, she broke out in song and danced around the dirt floor singing “You Are My Sunshine.”

After serving two terms as Louisiana Governor, Davis spent a lot of time at his farm in Northeast Louisiana, traveling back and forth from the state capitol in Baton Rouge.  The Governor was friends with my senior law partner in Ferriday, and made it a habit of stopping by our office for a coffee break.  I was a wet, behind the ears 26-year-old attorney, and often the only one in the office.  So Jimmy Davis would talk at length about his life and gave me my initial political education.

He would often ask me to notarize some document, which I was glad to do.  “So what do I owe you Brother Brown?” he would ask.  I would settle for a few verses of  “Sunshine.”  He regularly inquired if I could find him a raccoon. Up in redneck country, we just call it a coon. His favorite meal was to cook up a coon stew.  Knowing the request would always come from him, I asked some local hunters I represented to drop off a raccoon if they could fine one in their hunting escapades.   I generally kept a raccoon or two in the office freezer.

Now I know I have wetted your appetite for a delicious palate of raccoon. When I was elected some years later as Secretary of State, I wrote a cookbook, and the Governor graciously shared one of his favorite coon recipes for me to include.  Now here is good news for you.  The same recipe applies to a possum.  Well I know you are glad to know that. So here’s the Governor’s favorite dish.

Skin and clean coon.  Remove musks that are located under each foreleg and four
 in the neck.  Rub coon with red pepper, sprinkle with sat, add one sliced onion and
      five pods of minced garlic.  Parboil until tender.  Place coon in baking dish with
 three tablespoon’s of melted oleo and the broth in which the coon was boiled.
Place quartered sweet potatoes around the coon and bake at 375 degrees until
          golden brown.  There you go.  Can’t beat that for taste, can you?

Davis made one last futile effort for a third term as governor in 1971, while I made my foray in politics running for state senator.  He often campaigned with his band in the district where I was running, and I would put up signs that read: “Come to the Jim Brown for Senator campaign rally.  Special guest-Governor Jimmy Davis.”  Davis laughed when he caught on to what I was doing, and would call me up on the platform to introduce me as the district’s next state senator.  He supported me every time I ran for public office after that.

Throughout my 28-year political career, Jimmy Davis would often come by my Baton Rouge office, or call me to come visit him at his home right by the state capitol.  I always knew when he needed a notary.  My last call was a few weeks before he died in 2000.  He was donating a piece of property and needed the deed signed, but he insisted he pay me something.  “OK Governor,” I told him. “When you pass on, I want you to give me your driver’s license number.”  You see, Davis instituted the license requirement during his first term as governor in 1944.  And the number on his license?  Number one. “A done deal,” he told me.

 Of course, I never actually got it.  But it was good way to end our 35-year relationship with a smile.  And Sunshine?  Who was she?  A past lover?  A devoted family member? No.  Sunshine was Jimmy Davis’s horse.  The palomino mare is buried up on the northeast Louisiana farm. I pass that way occasionally, and remember back on my many conversations with the Governor.  And yes.  I do hum a few bars of “You always Are My Sunshine.”


“I rejoice in the knowledge that death is only the beginning.
 It is my hope and prayer that all of those who visit my
 final resting place shall remember this - I'll meet you in the morning.”
Jimmy Davis

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  .   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