Report from Louisiana: Roundup

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As your humble correspondent is recovering from a vicious round of food-poisoning, I’m going to give you a quick round-up of Louisiana headlines today as any thought deeper than that is simply not happening today.

The Governor’s RaceThe money reports are in. There are no real surprises on the fundraising front.  Incumbent John Bel Edwards has hoards of cash ($8.4 million) while challengers Eddie Rispone has $5.5 million and late-comer Ralph Abraham has $350,000. Keep in mind though, that’s three weeks of fundraising; Abraham did not announce his candidacy until December 6 and the cut-off for this reporting period was December 31.  The Democrats are scoffing at Abraham’s numbers claiming the public just isn’t interested in his campaign, but $350,000 in three weeks isn’t too bad.  He’s got a lot of ground to cover, however.

Shoot-Out in NOLA:  During the peak of Mardi Gras season, and high-tourist activity, the last thing anyone wants to see is a shootout in downtown NOLA, but that’s what happened this weekend with one dead and five innocent bystanders wounded.  Gunfire broke out when police attempted to apprehend a suspect at a bus stop for questioning. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that “these things do happen” but reassured the public that the city “is prepared for Mardi Gras.”

Fishing for Mardi Gras Beads:  Unintended consequences of Mardi Gras include beads floating in the Mississippi River which fish then ingest, causing great harm to the ecosystem. LSU scientists are taking steps to study and alleviate this problem. Last year, literally tons of beads were pulled from NOLA drainage basins.

Festival Season:  On a lighter note, spring festival season is right around the corner and one of the most popular statewide festivals (outside of Mardi Gras!) is the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival which is once again the first weekend in April and is held in New Iberia.  The festival is expanded by one day this year and features author Rebecca Wells as the Great Southern Writer.  In Louisiana we will have a festival for everything from redbuds to pirates.  The Louisiana Travel page has thirty-one pages of festivals in our state. 

Right to Vote:  On March 1, a large group of 36,000 convicted felons will be eligible to regain their right to vote under a new law that barely passed the Republican controlled house.  The numbers of those affected are expected to grow as interpretations for eligibility vary from those who were incarcerated to those who were simply on probation.  There are lots of loopholes in this one.

I’m off to continue recovery, drink Sprite, and sleep.  Peace out.

Pat Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and Her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.