A bumper sticker spotted years ago pretty much says it all: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

Each and every one of us – whether you’re a high school dropout or a Ph.D. in quantum physics – owes a debt of gratitude to teachers. We all are called on to read and write and to perform basic math throughout our lives and no matter how resistant one may have been to learning, at least something did sink in.

We live in a world where it’s virtually impossible to function in society without knowing the rudiments of communication and calculation. You may not be a decent speller or know proper grammar and those algebra lessons are long forgotten but you know enough to get by and that knowledge is courtesy of an overworked, underpaid, often exasperated teacher.

Which brings me to my second point: I don’t like paying taxes any more than the next guy.

But the truth is, if you want something, anything, there’s generally a price.

You want police and fire protection? Garbage pickup? Gas and electricity? Streets? Sewerage? Well, there’s a cost to those services. Someone is dependent on a paycheck to keep those things coming your way and taxes are the only way to pay for them.

Even Homeowners Associations have self-imposed taxes (but they’re called “fees” instead) that the homeowners are assessed.

Same for teachers. Your kids may be up and out of the house, moved away, or maybe you don’t even have kids at all, so why should you be concerned about teachers? Well, you may never need the fire department, either, and you may never have to call the police to help you against a home invasion. But it’s nice to know they are or were there when needed.

Teachers are essential to our general well-being. Yet, they are the most unappreciated, most put-upon, most criticized and most underpaid segment of our society. Why is that? Why do we as a society put such a premium on someone who can shoot a basket or throw a pass while snubbing the most important contribution to the economic, scientific, and artistic progress and well-being of us as a civilization?

It defies logic that Livingston Parish, one of the better education systems in the state, is losing teachers by the droves to places like Central which pays its teachers thousands of dollars more.

On Saturday, March 25, voters in Livingston Parish will have a chance to go to the polls and vote on a 1 percent sales and use tax dedicated exclusively to implementing teacher pay raises in the parish.

The turnout will be miniscule, I’m sure, with a concentration of anti-votes. One of those anti-votes will no doubt be cast by, of all people, a current member of the Livingston Parish School Board. That mystifies me. If a member of the school board cannot bring herself to support our schools and teachers, she should get the hell off the board.

Another opponent has posted on social media that the school board already has the money needed to fund pay raises. That is so much bunk. Yes, there is money but only enough to provide a token pay increase of a few hundred dollars per year. That would not make Livingston Parish competitive. This tax is essential to keep our system viable.

The school board is promoting the tax with town hall meetings in an effort to generate support. But the one thing that escapes me is how little State Sen. Rogers Pope has been utilized to endorse the measure. I know he would throw his efforts behind the tax if only he were asked to do so.

Pope, a former Livingston Parish School Superintendent, went on to be elected by wide margins first to the Louisiana House of Representatives and then to the State Senate. You’d think a man of his credentials would’ve been scooped up to serve on the education committees of the respective chambers. But noooo, that would just make too much sense.

Now, after representing his district admirably and honestly, Pope is hanging it up. His retirement will be Livingston Parish’s loss, make no mistake. He has spent his entire tenure in the legislature supporting the state’s teachers and public education despite being consistently passed over for a seat on the education committee of either chamber. Maybe his support of public education went against the grain of the Republican legislature (even though he is a Republican).

But back to Saturday’s election. It is critical that this tax pass so that Livingston Parish may become competitive with surrounding systems and so that it may retain our more outstanding teachers.

Taxes are unpopular. I know that. But they are necessary. It makes no sense to deprive teachers of a living wage while the state continues to give generous tax breaks to industries and businesses who all too often fail to live up to the rosy employment promises it makes in order to get those breaks.

But we can do something on the local level – something good and decent – to reward the heroes of any society, our teachers. To my fellow Livingston Parish residents: Please vote yes on March 25.


A lot of so-called political experts (ex: a has-been; spert: a drip under pressure) have pretty much conceded that the governor’s race next October is Jeff Landry’s to lose.

And there’s no question that the former ST. MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPUTY has gotten his political ducks in a row by picking off one-by-one his stronger potential opponents (Rep. Garret Graves, Sen. John N. Kennedy, et al).

And we’ve already been shown that Landry is not above stooping to a little old-fashioned political bribery, for lack of a better word for it, when he gave a job to a convicted felon whose mother had finished in third place in the 2015 attorney general’s race. The mother, Geraldine Broussard Baloney of Garyville, subsequently endorsed Landry in the runoff with incumbent Buddy Caldwell. Landry, once in office, hired Baloney’s daughter, QUENDI BALONEY.

Quendi Baloney, who in 1999 had been charged with 11 felony counts of credit card fraud in Virginia, eventually pleaded guilty to three counts and sentenced to six years in prison, all of it suspended. The job she was handed? Why, as a member of the AG’s Fraud Section, of course.

One of Landry’s prominent supporters is Jefferson Parish businessman Shane Guidry, erstwhile friend of former Jefferson Parish sheriffs Harry Lee and Newell Normand. Guidry’s company, HARVEY GULF, was involved in a business arrangement with CTNN Enterprise, owned by Normand and his former Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro that attracted the attention of federal investigators in 2016.

During the time Landry was a private citizen, he served as legal counsel for Guidry and Guidry in turn poured thousands of dollars into Landry’s political campaigns later.

The close relationship between Landry and Guidry was further solidified when Landry hired Guidry as a “special agent/investigator” at a token salary of $12,000 per year and Guidry returned the favor by appointing Landry, by then Louisiana’s top legal officer, to the HARVEY GULF BOARD at a salary of between $50,000 and $100,000.

Now, fast forward to Landry’s announcement last October that he would be a candidate for governor in 2023. The words were barely out of his mouth when the State Republican Party took the unusual step of giving him its ENDORSEMENT before the full card of contenders was filled out.

It was a calculated move designed to frighten off other potential candidates, another sign that Landry was doing his homework albeit behind the scenes.

On Monday of this week, the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party, via 2020 presidential election denier and three-time unsuccessful US Senate candidate Woody Jenkins, tendered its official endorsement of Landry, saying in part:

“As Attorney General, he has continued fighting crime. He created the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation to carry the fight against crime to a higher level and the Louisiana Solicitor General’s office to handle major litigation in cases that impact Louisiana as they made their way to the U. S. Supreme Court.”


“Jeff Landry has the conservative philosophy, the character, and the courage to help Louisiana fulfill its potential, creating a prosperous, safe, moral, and compassionate place to live, work, and raise a family.” (Emphasis added)

…unless one happens to be a vulnerable woman who is powerless against his cadre of donors, as one observer noted, because Landry apparently will not hesitate to use taxpayer funds to harass these women as a favor for his donors.

Once again, the attorney general’s questionable actions swirled around one Shane Guidry.

Lacey Hooper used a Tik Tok account to “friend” Guidry’s adolescent daughter in January 2021 and to inform her that she was the girl’s biological mother. It was Hooper’s somewhat clumsy effort to reconnect with her daughter who had been adopted by Guidry.

The girl asked for proof but instead, GUIDRY RESPONDED, “this is shane, if you contact (her) again, we will have you arrested. are we clear.”

And even though no crime had been committed, Guidry called on his pal Landry and soon the Louisiana AG’s office was scouring first Louisiana and then Mississippi in an effort to track down Hooper, even going so far as to hunt down her brother.

That prompted Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission to suggest the entire episode “reeks of political favoritism.”

“There’s no justification for this.,” Goyeneche said on July 9, 2021. “This isn’t a criminal investigation. I don’t see anything in here that even identifies a criminal violation. There are no allegations of criminal wrongdoing in any of this.”

The agents who went looking for Hooper came from the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation, Landry’s detective division, records show. The agents enlisted local law enforcement officers in Mississippi. The Feb. 10 road trip by three of the AG’s investigators included a stop in Hancock County and another in Long Beach, where they dropped in on her brother, Blake Hooper.

Hooper recalled a gaggle of agents, including supervising special agent John “Mike” Montalbano, showing up at his doorstep.

Eight days later, on July 17, Goyeneche, in a rare EDITORIAL, released by his office, ramped up his criticism of Landry’s abuse of his powers.

“When the attorney general of Louisiana is on your company payroll, why not whistle up his investigators to help you with a family dispute?” Goyeneche asked rhetorically.

“That is what businessman Shane Guidry of Jefferson Parish did, seeking help from his friend Attorney General Jeff Landry.

“Investigators from Landry’s office went well beyond the bounds of ordinary practices when called upon by Guidry in the matter, involving unwanted contacts from the birth mother of an adopted child.

“An average person could not call on the investigative division to go spend two days tracking down the biological mother and tell her to stop calling and contacting the child,” he said. “It’s another example of a quid-pro-quo, good-old-boy network.”

“That’s how Jeff Landy rolls. And it is not a good sign that his office is ready to take up a big donor’s side, to the point of intimidation of another party by AG investigators.”

The state Republican Party’s endorsement of Landry represents a sorry continuation of the characterization placed at the feet of previous administrations who curry favor for the political class…except they would be the recipients of Landry’s graft if he becomes governor.

Yes, while the governor’s race appears to be Landry’s to lose…he could, with all the political baggage he has accumulated, pull it off.

Louisiana’s official state motto is “Union, Justice, Confidence.”

It should be “Thank God We’re Not Florida.”

We in Louisiana have our problems – lots of them. We’re one of the poorest states, we have poorly-educated citizens, there’s a simultaneous problem of obesity and a hunger (depending, I suppose, on individual economic conditions), we’re generally an unhealthy state, and we rank pretty high in teenage pregnancy and infant mortality. And to address all these problems, we have suddenly decided that book banning is a great idea.

But still, we’re not Florida. Not only does the Sunshine State have its own ban on books, but it has:

  • A “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the legislature;
  • Instituted restrictive voting requirements;
  • Banned masks during a deadly pandemic;
  • Its Anti-CRT Act;
  • Restrictions on teacher tenure;
  • A ban on transgenders;
  • A parental rights bill;
  • An unfair alimony law;
  • Restricted discussions of systemic racism in workplace trainings;
  • Its own handpicked secret police – a private, 1200-member military unit;
  • A likely unconstitutional anti-protest bill;
  • An equally unconstitutional bill pending that would require bloggers to register with the state if anything was written about any state official.

Fascist? You bet.

Just ask the Florida League of Women Voters, a century-old organization that has a rich history of registering voters, holding debates between candidates and public forums to discuss critical issues facing citizens.

The league has been denied permission by the Florida Department of Management Services to hold an outdoor rally on the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

It was denied permission on the basis of yet another “Rhonda Santis” rule that requires groups to first get sponsorship from a sympathetic state agency.

So, let me understand this rule. Say, I would like to lead a protest against Florida State Police for some egregious conduct like say, the unwarranted beating death of an innocent person. So, I would have to obtain sponsorship from Florida State Police to conduct my protest? Good luck with that.

In fact, good luck getting “sponsorship” from any “sympathetic” state agency whose leaders depend on the governor’s good graces to keep their jobs.

What happened to a little thing like the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? You know, the one that guarantees freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press?

It’s beginning to appear as if the only amendment the Republicans hold dear is the Second Amendment that allows certified nuts to purchase and keep assault weapons with which to slaughter innocent school children and their teachers – unless, of course, the First Amendment is invoked to protect “tourists” who want to riot, kill, and defecate in and otherwise destroy the U.S. Capitol in order to disrupt the certification of a presidential election.

As much as I detested Trump for his four-year s**t show, I am absolutely scared to death of a DeSantis presidency. Where Trump was largely an orange-tinged clown-like buffoon, DeSantis is a true danger to this country. Simply put, he is the personification of evil – evil to the rights of women, minorities, gays, educators, the news media, to freedom itself.

I fear we are doomed for an administration headed by a DeSantis devotee – Jeff Landry, who exhibits many of the same traits as the der Fuhrer of Florida.

So, Thank God we’re not Florida – yet.

You want heroes? I’ll give you one who never received the recognition he deserved.

Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, settled in Lafayette, flying helicopters for the petroleum industry. He died of cancer in Pineville on Jan. 6, 2006. He was 62.

One week from today will mark the 55th anniversary of one of the darkest stains on the U.S. military. But for the actions of Thompson and his crew members, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, the death toll of the My Lai massacre would have been considerably higher.

On March 16, 1968, Thompson was piloting his OH-23 Raven observation helicopter on a support mission for Task Force Barker’s search and destroy operations in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam.

Army intelligence that said the four villages of My Lai, My Khe, Co Luy, and Tu Cung were Viet Cong strongholds proved inaccurate. The villages were comprised of rice-farming families but that didn’t deter Lt. William Calley, commander of 1st Platoon of Company C. Company C was attached to Task Force Barker, led by Capt. Ernest Medina.

“We kept flying back and forth, reconning in front and in the rear, and it didn’t take very long until we started noticing the large number of bodies everywhere,” Thompson told an academic conference on My Lai at Tulane University in 1994. “Everywhere we’d look, we’d see bodies. These were infants, two-, three-, four-, five-year-olds, women, very old men, no draft-age people whatsoever.”

It didn’t take Thomson and his crew long to realize that Americans were murdering the villagers when a wounded civilian woman they had requested medical evacuation for was murdered before their eyes by Medina.

“Then we saw a young girl about twenty years old lying on the grass. We could see that she was unarmed and wounded in the chest. We marked her with smoke because we saw a squad not too far away. The smoke was green, meaning it’s safe to approach. Red would have meant the opposite. We were hovering six feet off the ground not more than twenty feet away when Captain Medina came over, kicked her, stepped back, and finished her off. When we saw Medina do that, it clicked. It was our guys doing the killing,” Thompson said.

When Thompson saw that there was an irrigation ditch filled with bodies (people killed by Calley’s men, it would turn out), he told his crew, “There’s something wrong here. Seeing that some of the civilians in the ditch were alive, he landed his helicopter where a confrontation with Lt. Calley ensued.

Calley told Thompson, “This is my show. I’m in charge here. It ain’t your concern” and that “you better get back in that chopper and mind your own business.”

“You ain’t heard the last of this,” Thompson said.

Even as the exchange was taking place, Sgt. David Mitchell, who was under Calley’s command, fired into the ditch, killing any civilians who were still moving.

Enraged and shocked, Thompson and his crew returned to their helicopter and began searching for civilians they could save. Spotting a group of women, children, and old men attempting to flee the advancing soldiers, Thompson landed his helicopter between the civilians and the soldiers.

Turning to Colburn and Andreotta, he ordered them to shoot the soldiers if they attempted to kill any of the fleeing civilians. He called in two UH-1 Huey helicopters to help in the evacuation of the civilians.

Because he was low on fuel, Thompson was forced to return to a nearby supply airstrip but before they could depart, Andreotta spotted movement in the irrigation ditch full of bodies. Thompson looped his helicopter round and landed near the edge of the ditch. Andreotta exited as it touched down and walking on several badly mangled bodies, he arrived where he had seen the movement. Lifting a corpse with several bullet holes in the torso, he found a child no older than five or six, covered in blood and in a state of shock.

The child, Do Ba, was transported to a hospital in Quang Ngai. Nearly 40 years later, Thompson and Do Ba would reconnect through an intermediary.

Thompson would testify against Calley in the latter’s court martial. Calley was convicted in March 1971 and sentenced to life imprisonment, a sentence that was twice reduced by Richard Nixon’s Department of Defense before he was released in late 1974.

Nixon, meanwhile, with the assistance of Louisiana Rep. F. Edward Hebert, attempted to discredit Thompson.

It took 30 years but in 1998, Thompson, Colburn and Andreotta were awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for bravery not involving direct contact with the enemy. The medal was awarded posthumously to Andreotta, who died in Vietnam on April 8, 1968, just three weeks after the standoff in My Lai.

Despite the efforts of Nixon and Hebert to ruin Thompson’s reputation and credibility, he received hundreds of appreciative letters from people from all over the country. Among those who expressed their gratitude for his actions were U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston and U.S. Sen. John Breaux, both of Louisiana.

Breaux in 2000 nominated Thompson for the Nobel Peace Prize, writing to the Nobel Committee, “Hugh Thompson’s story is a shining example of ethical, humane treatment of civilians and prisoners-of-war during wartime. His actions serve as a powerful statement having the power to inspire others to act justly and compassionately toward their neighbor, regardless of nationality.”

Author Trent Angers wrote an excellent book about Thompson entitled The Forgotten Hero of My Lai. Published by Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette, the book is available on Amazon or by ordering it from Cavalier House Books of Denham Springs by clicking on the Cavalier House logo in the column to the right of this post.

Please take the time to read about a true American hero. There are so few of them left anymore.

At the risk of becoming redundant, saying the same thing over and over, and repeating myself (a line by Frasier in the Cheers sitcom), I will once more address parish councils’ growing trend of suddenly concerning themselves with the content of local libraries. Whether you patronize your library or not, you should be concerned over the creeping national movement toward censorship being pushed by right-wing conservative Republicans.

The Livingston, St. Tammany, and Bossier Parish Libraries are the latest to come under the scrutiny of parish councils which in at least two cases have apparently violated the state’s dual officeholding law by appointing council members to local library boards.

Bossier Parish was the first to do so and last week St. Tammany followed suit. This week, the Livingston Parish Library Director abruptly RESIGNED in the wake of the parish council’s passage of a ridiculous – and restrictive – RESOLUTION aimed at limiting access to objectionable material by children. These include any books with graphic content (not necessarily sexual) and drag queen shows held by some libraries.

During a meeting of the St. Tammany Council last week, one Fran Smith told the board, “My brother read books like these and hurt me very badly. Do you know how many kids have died because of pedophilia?” I don’t know her personal details, but I do know no book was responsible for any “hurt” done to her by her brother.

I would ask Ms. Smith if she happens to have a hard number on the number of children who have been killed by books versus the number who have been killed by guns. That would be an interesting statistic. I would also ask Ms. Smith just who the PEDOPHILES are who she claims are killing children. For that matter, I’d love to know if she also is advocating control over churches because of SEXUAL ABUSE within the confines of houses of worship? Church pedophilia has been found in the Catholic, Southern Baptist, and Mormon churches, to name just three. To my knowledge, not a single one these offenders is or was a drag queen.

Now, should there be a movement develop toward controlling churches because of sexual abuse, you will hear a howl of protest come up from the right wing evangelicals that will sound like Armageddon itself. And it would be no less vociferous if some effort was initiated to censor parts of the Bible because of violence and genocide (God instructing the Israelites to invade opponents’ villages and to bash babies’ heads on the rocks and rip babies from their mother’s wombs while saving the virgin women for themselves, for example), sex, adultery, and graphic punishment. It’s all in there.

And just to show how things come full circle, I can remember when it was the right-wing conservatives (read: white supremists) who protested the most vehemently when books like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Little Black Sambo were pulled because of racist content. I guess it really does depend upon whose ox is being gored (for the uninitiated, an expressing implying that the shoe’s on the other foot now) because it is they who are now advocating censorship.

I find it odd that these parish councils are looking to library content as a solution to deplorable roads and bridges that the parish council are charged with maintaining. I find it equally curious that library scrutiny is going to somehow solve chronic flooding conditions in Livingston and St. Tammany parishes.

Why the sudden attention to library content?

Simple: herd mentality. Just as the term “fake news” never seemed to cross anyone’s lips until we got a fake president, the sudden hysteria over library content is being pulled along by the tide of opposition to BLM, CRT, Antifa, and something called wokeism. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, plans to INTRODUCE A BILL declaring Antifa a terrorist organization.

Problem is, Antifa does not exist as an organization. There are no members, no headquarters, no mailing address, no letterhead, no nothing. It simply stands for “anti-fascist,” something that the U.S. as a nation proudly stood for in World War II, when many of our military personnel died fighting fascism. So now, MTG wants to declare anti-fascism a terrorist organization. Interesting.

That’s the same mentality we find with this growing hysteria over libraries. Whether you choose to accept it or not, it is a direct attack on the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of expression.

Don’t believe it? Well, just ask Florida State Sen. Jason Brodeur. He has introduced a bill in the Florida Legislature that would require all bloggers who write about any state official to REGISTER WITH THE STATE not once, but every single time a story is posted. At the same time, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to make it infinitely easier to sue reporters and media outlets – in direct contravention to established 1964 law called NEW YORK TIMES v. SULLIVAN.

That might not resonate with many who are disillusioned with the media, but if the news media is ever silenced, that will be the death knell for freedom. It’s true that democracy dies in darkness.

So far, we have two bills submitted for our own upcoming legislative session that deal with library control i.e., censorship.

Reps. Paul Hollis (R-Covington) and Beryl Amedee (R-Houma) have submitted HB 25, which would change library board membership from set terms to service at the pleasure of the parish council.

Sen. Heather Cloud (R-Turkey Creek) has likewise submitted SB 7, which would govern the “access to certain materials in public libraries.”

They are just part of the growing feeding frenzy being stoked by the Republican Party.

It wouldn’t surprise me if a few more bills are thrown into the hopper before the legislature convenes on April 10.

%d bloggers like this: