The horror of 19 people being shot at a New Orleans 'Second Line' parade was something everyone wanted to talk about this morning. Trying to make sense of the senseless violence we deal with on a near-daily basis is one thing, but trying to understand why one or more young gunmen would open fire into a crowd of men, women, and children defies comprehension.
I'd like to share a couple of calls we had this morning. Kiron called in during the 8 o' clock hour...he was at the parade and described in harrowing detail what happened.
Tyrone called and spoke passionately about being a black man angry about the violence in his city.
Some pretty powerful interviews this morning. Apparently, when I go to church by myself, I've been doing it wrong.
We talked to Archbishop Gregory Aymond about the rash of violence and robberies in local Catholic churches. A woman was mugged inside a chuch, and a priest was robbed and beaten at a Metairie church! The Archbishop's advice: Leave your cash AT HOME and don't go to church alone!
So, what about all that extra tolls collected on the CCC after January 1? What about all the hard-earned cash I had put on my toll card AFTER January 1, before the judge threw out the election? I asked that question of Jefferson Parish President John Young. Click HERE to hear what he had to say!
And, with all the other problems going on with the NOPD...increasing response times, thinning ranks, low morale...Is this REALLY the right time to force a residency requirement upon officers, as we're apparently having issues with recruiting? Fraternal Order of Police Spokesman Raymond Burkhart told me this morning the residency requirement isn't about making our police force better or more efficient... He says that it's just good old fashioned politics. Click HERE to listen to what he had to say.
Last but not least: Click the window below to see our latest “LIVE from the office” video. Think I took my life in my hands trying to “spoon” our WWL resident Marine (and former cop) Kristian Garic as he napped on the studio couch? He got “Tuckered.” What was I thinking??
Is it the pup or the press? That’s the question again today after news of a horrific pit bull mauling in Westwego that left a 54-year-old woman in intensive care at the LSU interim hospital, minus an ear, an eye and without any arms. She was attacked by her own dogs, pit bulls she helped raise from puppies and police still don’t know what caused the attack. She was leading a smaller dog into the home on a leash and one of the pits had just given birth and was nursing a litter of pups. Either one of those are possible causes. What is without doubt is that Westwego police had to shoot and kill all four dogs to stop the attack and protect themselves. On the same day, in Wisconsin, a 14-month-old toddler was attacked by pit bulls in his own home. He later died from his injuries.
So, are pit bulls inherently dangerous animals? Or, are they lightning rods for the press, making headlines every time they bite? Statistics would indicate the former. The Centers for Disease Control report 32% of all dog related killings of human beings in the United States are caused by pit bull attacks, yet pit bulls constitute only TWO PERCENT of all dogs. Seventy percent of those mauling deaths were of CHILDREN.
I had the unfortunate experience of having people with pit bulls buy the house next to mine. One dog chased me into the house, while I was outside washing my car. On other numerous occasions I had to bring my then toddler daughter into the house, while both of the neighbor’s pit bulls furiously tried to dig under the fence to get to her while she was in HER OWN BACKYARD. I’m a dog lover but if I had gotten the chance, I would have used the Remington 870 to dispatch those dangerous nuisances to doggie heaven. I wouldn’t have done it out of anger or malice; I would have done it to protect my daughter.
The dogs have been outlawed in the UK. Should we follow that same course here? And should it be limited to pit bulls? I don’t think so. I’m all for freedom. But with any freedom comes responsibility. I think if you decide to own a pit bull, or any dog, you should have to accept with it any consequences that occur as a result. That includes criminal penalties if your dog(s) injure or kill someone in or out of your family. That way the marketplace would decide without having to pass any laws. If you want to own a big, dangerous dog that has a propensity to attack and you’re willing to go to jail if anything goes wrong...good luck. Is that fair? Do you think that would have any effect on the number of people that own big, dangerous dogs?
Apparently the DOTD is poised to make good on one of the many threats that were made if the tolls on the Crescent City Connection expired, as required by law, on December 31, 2012. They say they’ll pull the plug on the decorative lighting that has graced the skyline of the Crescent City since 1987.
It should be noted the money for that lighting was raised by a civic organization, the Young Leadership Council, in increments as small one and five dollars from both sides of the river in what seemed like a successful private/public partnership. They gave half a million dollars to the state and thought they had a deal.
We all know what’s happened with the tolls since then, and now the DOTD is poor-mouthing, saying they’ll have to turn the lights off this weekend because they don’t have the money to keep the lights on. How much does it cost? The “stunning” sum of sixty thousand dollars a year…fifteen thousand dollars for electricity and forty five thousand dollars for maintenance. Those numbers are from DOTD, and if experience is any indicator a private contractor could probably find a way to cut THAT by at least twenty five percent. Locals who don’t remember might have bought that bull, but not the guy who originally brokered the deal.
Chris Johnsen is now an attorney in New York, but in 1987 he was the President of the Young Leadership Council. He said the original deal called for the money to be raised PRIVATELY and the lights DONATED to the STATE with the quid pro quo that the state maintain the lights in perpetuity. Now go find your winter coat, because here comes the snow job.
Rhett Desselle, a DOTD lackey, says THAT deal was with the old Mississippi River Bridge Authority, an entity that no longer exists because it was abolished by the legislature at the end of last year. Technically, he’s right. The legislature HAD to ABOLISH the Mississippi River Bridge Authority because they had wasted, misappropriated and otherwise tossed millions of toll dollars into the muddy Mississippi for things like flood insurance on…wait for it…A BRIDGE.
But I shouldn’t focus my ire on Rhett. He’s just doing what his boss, Sherri LeBas, the secretary of DOTD, tells him to do. She’s an artful dodger. I’ve been trying for A YEAR AND A HALF to get her to come on the air with me and explain why she needs MORE taxpayer money to maintain the Crescent City Connection when we’re ALREADY paying for maintenance with taxes from license plates and gasoline that pour into Highway Fund #2. That’s how every other Mississippi River Bridge in the state is maintained. I guess she doesn’t have a good explanation for that extra FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in tolls she’s looking for. Or, for that matter, why DOTD is playing it heavy handed and punishing us for paying off the bridge by paying all of those tolls for all of those years.
You think it’s really necessary to turn those lights off this weekend? Or is it more likely that DOTD is trying to keep us ALL in the dark?
We were honored to have Saints running back Mark Ingram this morning.
In addition to being a proud member of the Black and Gold, Ingram is also a Crimson Tide alumni who had a somewhat standout career at Alabama.
With the way things have gone for LSU in the last couple of Tiger-Tide meetings, I thought I would take advantage of our meeting to try to put this rivalry to rest, once and for all. After all, I was a kicker on an 0-10 high school football team, and so I'm certainly up to the challenge.
Check out the video of our showdown below. I think I did better than expected.
I had a hard time getting to sleep last night after hearing of the tragedy here in the Crescent City…of a 23 year old mother who snuffed out the lives of her two children…shooting her 3 year old son and drowning her 4 year old daughter. I couldn’t get those final moments of terror for those two toddlers out of my mind, but I did take comfort in my faith and knowing that God had two new angels.
There was a time in my life, fifteen or so years ago, where, when I heard of something like this, sheer bloodlust would have taken over and I would have immediately thought of punishment and retribution…insisting that justice be meted out in a swift, harsh and sever manner. But something’s changed. I don’t know if I’m smarter, softer or have just been going to church more. Maybe it’s because I’m a parent. But the main thing I feel now is compassion for all involved.
Sure, we have a safe haven law. But while that makes perfect sense to you and me and people who are in their right minds (and please don’t think I mean criminally insane), I don’t think that means anything to somebody who would actually execute their children. Make no mistake about it. That mother has to answer for the murders of those two innocent gifts from God. I just think the approach has to come from a more intelligent place than “string her up” or “torture her until she screams.” Because ANYTHING that we can learn to prevent ANY precious child from suffering again would, to my way of thinking, offset ANY good feeling an act of revenge would afford us.
I was honored to be joined by Joe Unitas this morning on the eve of Drew Brees breaking his father's 52-year NFL record of making a TD pass in 47 consecutive games.
Joe sent a great letter last week to Drew after #9 tied Johnny Unitas' record, and I asked him about what prompted him to write it.
"It's just the right thing to do," Joe told me. "I just wanted Drew to know that I was proud of him, and my family was, and if my Dad was here, he'd tell him the same thing."
The younger Unitas said that growing up as the son of a legend game him a unique perspective.
"I understand that these guys are people just like you and I are, and sometimes it's nice if you can get a pat on the back or good luck from somebody," he said. "Drew's worked very, very hard and has overcome a lot of adversity in his life and on the football field, and I just figured...we should just let him know that the Unitas family is proud of him and is pulling for him."
Here's the classy letter he wrote to Drew Brees. By the way, you can get more on the Unitas We Stand Foundation by clicking HERE...
October 2, 2012
New Orleans Saints
5800 Airline Dr.
Metairie, LA 70003
I wanted to take a minute to congratulate you on tying my father’s record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. I’ve been following your pursuit of the record since last season. I’m a big fan of yours, and wish you the best Sunday night against San Diego as you try to break the record. My father always said that records were meant to be broken. I know that if he was still with us that he would wish you the best as well.
When I look back on my father’s life I remember a man who was much bigger than the game of football. The things he would appreciate most about you have nothing to do with football; it’s about who you are as a person. You’re a role model for today’s youth, a family man, and a humanitarian who cares for his community. My father would tell you these are the important things in life, not some record in a book.
Continue to be a leader for your team and the City of New Orleans. You’re a great quarterback but even better man. Stay healthy and safe this week and in the future. My family and I will be watching Sunday night cheering for you. Best of luck.
WWL NFL analyst Mike Detillier joined me this morning to talk about the horrible start of the season by the Black and Gold.
Detillier says it's now apparent to him that the team is adrift without their coach.
"I think it's now as plain as can be that the Saints without Sean Payton is like the Colts without Peyton Manning last year," Detillier said. "They've lost their emotional heartbeat on this football team. Now, the players can't say it and the coaches can't say it, but it's obvious...this team is a step or two back from what it was a year ago because of that."
The Saints defense was run over by what Mike calls an "average" Kansas City offense.
"Defensively, I have no explanation. It is as bad as I've ever seen out there. The Chiefs are not a good football team, and the Saints got absolutely trashed by the Chiefs. You had a middle of the road, at best, quarterback that picked you apart. All we heard last week from the media, coaches, and players, was "get us away from the unconventional quarterbacks, and it will solve the problems." It didn't solve anything! The problem is that you're playing lousy on the defensive side of the football! You can't stop the run, your pass coverage part is poor, you're getting no pass rush...so I don't know where it's going to stop, to be honest."
According to Detillier, things may go from bad to worse in the coming weeks if the Saints don't find a way to pull it together.
"I've always felt how you gauge your football team in your schedule is the caliber of QB you play. Look at who you're going to play the next couple of weeks: Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Payton Manning, Michael Vick...you're going to go up against some pretty sizeable quarterbacks, much better than the Chiefs."
And Mike says he's not confident that the offense will be able to save the day, despite having Drew Brees under center.
"Offensively, this team is basically going to have to score 35 to 38 points each week to win a football game. And I'm not sure they can do it. Because of the fact...in down-and-distance situations, in which Peyton was the master in throwing you off track, this team is not hitting on all cylinders. You've got nothing to hang your hat on, offensively or defensively. Nothing.
6.28.12 - During the darkest days of the Nagin administration, when hubris and hopelessness ran rampant through the Crescent City’s halls, I would often flash forward to a future time in my imagination. In that crystal ball world, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and company would prevail wearing their metaphorical white hats proudly and slinging subpoenas and indictments like six guns in the old West. The bad guys that had been out of control would be led away in handcuffs and I would smile, satisfied that order was restored and all was once again well in our corner of the world. Now, as Bills of Information come forth with mentions of “Public Official A” I realize the future I once dreamed of could be at hand. Yet, the satisfaction I once thought would be so fulfilling and gratifying just isn’t there. I think I know why.
Even IF “Public Official A” IS C. Ray Nagin and even IF he is indicted and convicted and Jim Letten and his staff did EVERYTHING right and adhered to the letter of the law…what is there to celebrate? Could it be the complete and total failure of another one of our native sons who soared so high only to crash and burn? How about another chapter added to our long legacy of laughably corrupt politicians? Or, perhaps worst of all, the national narrative that post-Katrina aid was stolen by the corrupt mayor of New Orleans? Remember, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s TRUE…it only matters how the story is spun and what people believe.
It’s important to point out that WE DON’T KNOW if Ray Nagin is “Public Official A” and even if he is, a grand jury would have to indict him and if so he’s entitled, as we all are, to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But now that I’m thinking LOGICALLY and not EMOTIONALLY, please forgive me if “I just can’t get no satisfaction.” I’m glad the good guys are cleaning things up and the bad guys are going to jail. I just thought it would feel better than this.