Thursday, April 30, 2015


April 30th, 2015
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Chicken Little has got nothing on King Alexander.  The LSU president is shouting from the rooftops that the state financial commitment is crumbling to the ground, the LSU fiscal sky is falling, and he is about to declare “academic bankruptcy.”  Academic bankruptcy?  I’ve been around and a part of Louisiana state government for some 44 years, and I’ve never heard of the phrase.  You can’t even Google it and find any other example.

The LSU boss stirred up a real hornet’s nest of opposition with a number of voices, including many legislators, responding that Alexander was shooting from the hip and way overreacting.  LSU quickly backtracked and put out a statement saying they were merely preparing for possible “financial exigency.”  I haven’t heard of this one either, but the Prez is hoppin’ mad and want’s more money from the legislature for the state’s flagship campus.

Now in fairness to Alexander, he does have reason to gripe.  The Louisiana legislature has marched in lockstep with Governor Bobby Jindal’s efforts to strip higher education to the bones year after year.  The question is, just were has the educational establishment been all this time as funds were continually reduced?  The answer is simply that those who live off the higher education spout didn’t want to rock the boat and draw attention to the number of enormous salaries that are being paid, many for non-academic work.  Over two hundred higher education employees take in more than $200 thousand a year.

Presidents of even smaller Louisiana colleges average $350,000 a year.  LSU lists 13 Directors of Academic Affairs, each making over $200,000.  It can be lucrative if you can make it into the academic bureaucracy, so unless your job is at risk, there is little upside to “taking one” for the Higher Ed team.

But, you say, there are college boards and trustees, appointed from the business sector, that surely must be outraged and willing to speak up-right?  Hardly.  As the Wall Street Journal put it just last week, board members “have such an affection for dear old alma mater, and love those 50-yardline seats.  ‘Whatever you want to do Mr. President.’  And so it’s been observed a long time that colleges will spend everything they can get their hands on, in the absence of either market pressure or stewardship by a strong-minded board.”

A major mistake was made by the LSU leadership in the failure to develop a solid endowment plan. LSU could well have the lowest endowment of any major college of its size in the country. Endowments are important. As much as 20 percent of the total amount spent by major universities to cover costs can often come from its endowment. Income is built up over a number of years by actively encouraging alumni to make regular contributions to a university fund. Successful college endowments grow through investments and are a significant income source for any major university in the country. Not so at LSU.

As you would expect, the nation’s top-rated universities also have the highest endowments. Harvard leads the country with an endowment approaching $30 billion. A number of state universities have endowments that are significantly above $1 billion. The University of North Carolina has topped the $2.3 billion level gaining some 13 percent in one year on investments of new funds into the endowment. How about the Southeast Conference? Texas A&M is way ahead at $11.1 billion. Vanderbilt is solid at $4 billion.

The University of Florida comes in strongly at almost $1.3 billion. The University of Alabama has an endowment of $1.23 billion. The University of Tennessee system is now at $954 million. Our football rival up in Arkansas has an $800 million endowment.  Any numbers of smaller southern schools are above this level. So where’s LSU? Less than 700 million, and barely edging out Cooper Union and Macalester College.  (I’ve never heard of either school.)

The governor and the legislature both need to step up and see that adequate funding is available for all state universities.  But there is some internal soul searching and educational accountability that for years has been glossed over and ignored by the higher educational community.  There is more to leadership than just threatening that the academic sky is about to fall.


Half the crowd in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night can’t even spell LSU.” 
 James Carville

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, April 22, 2015


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is mad.  Really mad!  He’s had his fill of all these hyphenated-Americans ballyhooing and expressing pride in their ethnic heritage.  Jindal joined a group of 18 presidential wannabes in New Hampshire over the weekend trying to impress Republican diehards.  And he didn’t hold back on his distain for those who treasure their heritage.

 "I don't know about you, I'm tired of the hyphenated Americans. No more 'African-Americans.' No more 'Indian-Americans.' No more 'Asian-Americans,' " Jindal told some 600 Republican activists.  So the Governor, whose own parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, wants to not only drop his own Indian-American label, but expects everyone else to do likewise.

Now that will certainly cause a real shake up back in Jindal’s home state of Louisiana where, according to local lore, he occasionally stops off to visit.  Louisiana is an amalgamation of many cultures, with one of the most diverse mix of diversity found anywhere in America.

Doing away with ethnic identity will come as a real blow to many Louisianans.  Italian-Americans are great in Louisiana numbers, and take boundless pride in their heritage.  Jindal will no doubt have to take a trip to Independence in Tangipahoa Parish, a town founded by immigrants from southern Italy, and break the news to the locals that they no longer can be called Italian-Americans.

He will find little support in New Orleans where the St. Joseph’s Day festival, honoring
Italian-Louisianans is a major annual event.  Also, I would urge the Governor to avoid the American Italian Cultural Center, the pride of New Orleans that houses the largest Italian museum in the nation.

And the Irish?  I’d trend lightly Governor on getting their dander up.  St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans are sacred, and Irish-Louisianans carry their pride on their shoulders all year long.

I hope I’m there when the Jindal breaks the news to John Georges, publisher of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Advocates.  John, you see Governor, is in the forefront of Greek-Louisianans who relish in their Hellenic heritage.  He won’t take lightly that he can no longer be called a Greek-American.

No more Cinco de Mayo week-long revelries, celebrating Louisiana’s Hispanic culture in Shreveport and Bossier City?  The first week in May begins one of Louisiana’s biggest festivals, with many other similar observances all over the state proudly commemorated by Latin-Louisianans.  Jindal will just have to put away his sombrero.

Drop the reference to African-Americans?  Good luck with that Governor.  Suggest this to the Louisiana Black Caucus in the legislature and see how far you get.

And, Governor, you better pass this year on the Des Allemands Catfish Festival, that is, if you ever went there in the first place.  These German descendants take their Deutschland street names and their bratwurst seriously, as do ethnic German-Louisianans in Forest Hill (initially founded by German immigrants as Bismarck).

Now you are not, Governor, going to tell our Louisiana Cajuns that their French culture is no longer worthwhile?  We spend state funds for CODIFIL, the Council for the Development of the French Language, yet you want to make the Acadian-French heritage a thing of the past?  Why Marie Laveau and Justin Wilson would both be turning over in their graves.

The real first Americans are still in the Bayou State making up the four initial Indian tribes that include the Coushattas, the Choctaws, the Chitimachas, and the Tunicas.  For some pretty valid reasons, these original settlers aren’t really fond of all of us immigrants, and are dead set against not being referred to as Indian-Americans.  The war drums will be really beating against Jindal on this one. 

As for me, I’m a Scot by bloodline through and through. I rallied for Scotland’s Independence in the recent British elections, I fly the Scottish flag outside my house, and I’m proud to be a Scottish-American.

So Governor, if you want to disown your native heritage, so be it. That’s your freedom of choice.  But as for the rest of us, we too have the right to express our pride and allegiance for each one of our special heritages-a melting blend that makes this nation and our state so special. As I wrote in a previous column, how about taking care of the economic chaos you have created in the state.  And for goodness sake, leave Boudreaux, Antonio, Zorba, Gottfried, Shawn, Jemarcus, Bubba, Pedro, and me alone.

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, April 15, 2015


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 Remember the scene in the movie, The Fugitive, where Harrison Ford is about to jump off a cliff into a raging river?  He turns to his pursuer, a federal agent played by Tommy Lee Jones, and says: “I’m innocent!”  Jones shakes his head and says: “I don’t care.”  In recent months, a series of investigative reports from across the Bayou State have concluded that numerous federal and state prosecutors are primarily interested in winning — getting the indictment, the guilty plea, the conviction. But when it comes to seeking justice, one could argue that many prosecutors just don’t seem to care.

Legal observers across the nation have colluded that if you want to find the most egregious examples of wayward prosecutors who think nothing of hiding evidence that an accused is innocent, just go down to the deepest of the deep southern states.  Take a  look at a few of the national news stories about prosecutorial misconduct in Louisiana that have appeared nationally, just in the past few weeks.

“The U.S Attorney commenting scandal in New Orleans gave us a poster child for misconduct and appalling behavior.”
The New Orleans Advocate (April 7, 2015)

“New Orleans prosecutors-egregious instances of prosecutorial misconduct. These abuses did not simply stroke the line between lawful prosecutions and heavy handedness; in the words Justice John Paul Stevens, they were “blatant and repeated.”  The New York Times (April 13, 2015).

The Untouchables: America’s Misbehaving Prosecutors, and the System that protects them. Nowhere is this ethos of impunity more apparent then in Louisiana.”   The Huffington Post  (April 10, 2015.)

“Grotesque Department Of Justice Misconduct- In a shocking case of “grotesque” misconduct by federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Louisiana ha ordered a new trial…”  National Review (April 13, 2015)

“Whole System is Fatally Flawed-Justice is subverted so many times for the will-for the winning.  Everyone wants to win, so the ends justify the means.”  Former Prosecutor A.M. “Marty” Stroud.  Shreveport Times  (April 4th, 2015)

In Louisiana Prosecutor Offices, a toxic culture of death and invincibility. – The ongoing problem of prosecutor misconduct, using Louisiana as the poster child to explain why even egregious misconduct not only isn’t punished but also is often incentivized” The Washington Post-April 8, 2015.

Now these articles listed are just about Louisiana. Take a moment to Google “prosecutorial Misconduct,” and check out the reams of news reports on this alarming subject from across the nation.

Shakespeare proposed killing all the lawyers. But numerous lawyer prosecutors have made it a habit of killing any semblance of fair play.  Too often, there is a “win at all costs” mentality where the end justifies whatever means a prosecutor decides to use to obtain a conviction.  Efforts are often not made to seek justice, which is what the criminal justice system is supposed to be all about.  Justice is swept aside when a prosecutorial “no holds barred” effort is pursued to get a conviction at any cost.

One of the more recent misconduct soap operas involves the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office where, at the time, the longest serving federal prosecutor in the country, Jim Letten, resigned amid a scandal involving a whole host of his staff.  A federal judge issued a scathing 50-page order alleging possible criminal misconduct by former federal prosecutor Sal Perricone and former first Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann.  The judge singled out Perricone for testifying  “falsely” in his courtroom, and called for the New Orleans U.S Attorney’s office to be investigated by the Justice Department. Perricone and Mann both resigned under a cloud of suspicion along with Mann’s husband, Jim Mann.

Do these prosecutors who break the law act in an evil way?  Or do they just not care?  This exemplifies, in most instances, the prototype of those who bend the law and hide exculpatory evidence to get a conviction.  They may not be evil, but they are indifferent.  The end justifies the means.  They just don’t care about the meaning of our Constitution.  If government crimes are not checked for the few, then we all are at risk.  Prosecutors who lie and cover up should be disbarred and prosecuted themselves.  Otherwise, there is no integrity in the system.


“American prosecutors over the years have shown an ugly side that is antithetical to justice, and they even have a very dark saying: "Any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. It takes a GREAT prosecutor to convict an innocent man."
William Anderson

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

Thursday, April 09, 2015


Baton Rouge, Louisiana


The Civil War came to an end 150 years ago this week when an exhausted confederate army, led by General Robert E. Lee, formally surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at a farmhouse in Appomattox, Virginia.  From the beginning of the war to a bitter end on both sides, Louisiana played key roles in how this tragic war was fought.

Don’t you know it was a French Creole General from St. Bernard Parish who started the whole thing by firing the first shot at Fort Sumter back on April 12th, 1861?  Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard was born on a sugar cane plantation, trained at the United States Military Academy as a civil engineer, served for a short time as superintendent at West Point, then resigned to became the first brigadier general of the Confederate States Army.  He didn’t do so badly after the South was defeated, returning to Louisiana to make a fortune promoting the Louisiana Lottery.

The first president of the confederacy was Jefferson Davis, who Mississippians claim as one of their own.  But Davis spent a number of his younger years in both St. Mary and West Feliciana Parishes.  When he was elected to lead the confederacy, his home was on Davis Island Surrounded by the Mississippi River across from Newellton, La. The cut off of the river technically should have made the Davis home in Tensas Parish rather than Warren County, Mississippi.  Louisiana Governor John McKeithen made a number of trips to walk the ruins of Davis Island.  Davis died in a New Orleans Garden district home, and was initially buried in Metairie Cemetery.  So his Louisiana bond, from youth to death, is extensive.

Union Army General William Sherman had strong Louisiana ties, but turned out to be one of the most vicious, vengeful, and polarizing military leaders of the entire war.  History will remember him as a no holds bared, take no prisoners commander who left a path of devastation, death and destruction during his notorious “march to the sea” to capture and burn Atlanta.  This was the beginning of the end for the South. Louisiana will remember him as the ungrateful first president (then called Superintendent) of LSU when he was appointed in 1859.

 Though he initially took pride in the job he began, Sherman had no qualms over trashing LSU.  After the war ended, he wrote to a former colleague teaching in Baton Rouge that: “The commonest of the common schools of Iowa outrank in public estimation your university.”  So much for Sherman’s appreciation of what today is the state’s flagship university.

Here in my home state of Louisiana, we are surrounded by remnants of the war’s bloody battles. When I began my law practice in Northeast Louisiana across the Mississippi River from Natchez, my home was the Lisburn Plantation, just north of Ferriday.  To make his final siege of Vicksburg in one of the last and decisive battles of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant commandeered my future home to headquarter for several days before crossing the Mississippi River and attacking Vicksburg from the South.  Vicksburg was called “the Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” being located on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  Many historians believed that the fall of Vicksburg was the death knell for any chance of the South’s survival.

As Grant undertook his offensive against Vicksburg, Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’ army moved against the Confederate stronghold at Port Hudson on the Mississippi River just north of my current home of Baton Rouge. On May 27, after their frontal assaults were repulsed, the Federals settled into a siege, which lasted for 48 days.

On hearing of the fall of Vicksburg, the Confederate garrison of Port Hudson surrendered, opening the Mississippi River to Union navigation from its source to New Orleans.   There were 12,208 casualties at Port Hudson of which 7,208 were Union soldiers. Numerous similar battles took place throughout Louisiana with devastating results of death and destruction for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Over one million Americans were killed during the Civil War, the largest loss of life during wartime in U.S. history. It was a huge disaster for both the North and the South.  And at the beginning and the end, from the highs to the lows, Louisiana was right in the middle of a turning point in American history.

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