Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
by Jim Brown
There is a reason the death penalty is rarely enforced anymore, particularly in the federal judicial system. Too many innocent victims are being convicted, based on cover-ups and the withholding of exculpatory evidence by some federal and state prosecutors. A recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences concludes that some 4.1 percent of inmates on death row are innocent. More than four percent. If that were the rate of airplanes crashing, would you fly?
What on earth is happening out there? Is a major hurricane churning in the Gulf and taking dead aim at Louisiana? Is the Mighty Mississippi on the verge of overflowing its levees and about to flood thousands of acres, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes? Something drastic must be up. After all, State Farm Insurance Company just raised its rates on Louisiana homeowners by as much as 20%.
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.
It’s the kickoff for hurricane season and forecasters are predicting 8 to13 named storms with anywhere from 3 to 6 of these storms growing into major hurricanes. Here on the Gulf Coast, we certainly perk up when this time of year rolls around. For years, a good story in south Louisiana went like this:
Twenty-eight years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan traveled to West Berlin, and at the Brandenburg Gate admonished: “Mr.Gorbachev, take down that wall.” The Berlin Wall had been erected by the puppet Soviet state of East Germany. Unless you are over sixty-five or are a history buff, you may not understand the tensions that existed then had many observers feeling that we could be on the brink of war with the Soviet Union.
Iraq is imploding as Republicans and Democrats alike are scratching the heads as to what went wrong. Meanwhile, party gridlock in Washington has brought any sense of responsible governing to a standstill. The President faces what may well turn out to be his single biggest crisis during his time in office, and he spent most of last week vacationing on California golf courses. Are we observing a freak show or what?
Kids all over Louisiana graduated last week from kindergarten, grade school, high school, college and graduate schools. And there was always a commencement speaker. Most of you will never give a commencement address. But as a public official, I was called on to give a number of them. And guess what? I don’t remember any of the advice that I gave to these newly minted graduates.
A popular Louisiana Governor died 15 years ago this week. John McKeithen was the first Governor I ever met. When he was elected as chief executive in 1963, Louisiana was still a 19th century state struggling to operate in the 20th century. McKeithen was the catalyst that caused a major realignment of priorities.
There is a great deal of whining going on down in the Crescent City over the loss of the 2018 Super Bowl. Many New Orleanians who were part of the bid process felt they were far and away the front-runners to host the big game for the 11th time. After all, the year would be the city’s 300th anniversary.
A week doesn’t go by without Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal taking a potshot at President Obama. The Prez has kept a tight lip and publically ignores Jindal, but it’s obvious from press reports that there is no love lost between them. Despite the animosity, Bobby Jindal and President Obama have a lot in common.