Report from Louisiana: Checking in after Laura

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Hurricane Laura came and went this past Thursday, leaving behind a wake of destruction throughout Louisiana.

The death count so far is fourteen, at least five of those from carbon monoxide poisoning from generator use. A fourteen year old girl in Leesville, Louisiana was killed when a tree fell on to her family’s home.

Lake Charles looks like a war zone; the pictures coming out of there are devastating. News reports indicate that it will be weeks before power is restored and in some parishes the entire power grid has to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Shreveport is in the far northwest corner of the state and Laura was still a Cat 1 hurricane when she reached us, which is very rare. The last major tropical storm we had through here was Rita in 2005, but it was not still a hurricane when it came through here.

We were without power in my neighborhood four days; in Shreveport we still have 18,000 without power as I write this just in Shreveport. Throughout the state is much more.

One thing I’ve realized is how spoiled and soft I am; my little tiny stint without power in the Louisiana heat and humidity is nothing compared to what other people are going through. If you want to destroy civilization, take away our air conditioning.

Donald Trump visited south Louisiana this weekend to survey damage; FEMA is on the ground and the Cajun Navy has been deployed to help. The resources to help are in place but it doesn’t make the current suffering much better when your home is destroyed and your possessions scattered across four parishes. A blue tarp doesn’t help you much.

That being said, Louisiana is strong and we have done this before. We will work together and rebuild, even stronger, and we will lift each other up and help each other get there.

I’m keeping this short today: I have some little minor problems to attend to today, like reinstalling a network driver on my laptop which has somehow disappeared, and cleaning out my refrigerator and the spoiled food that didn’t make it.

I’m counting my blessings, big time.

Report From Louisiana Extra! Governor’s Election Heats Up with Miraculous Budget Surplus

Editor’s Note (DTG): While going through posts for the writers payday I found this post at the old blog in draft. For some reason it didn’t go up at the old blog, likely do to link issues. After reading it I’ve deemed it good enough to put up and pay for it, so slightly later than expected here via the last big of grief the old GoDaddy hosting site can give us is an election report from Pat Austin originally dated Sept 14th

The Washington Post has designated the Louisiana governor’s race as one of the top five governor’s races to watch in 2019-20.

John Bel Edwards has fairly high approval ratings (mid 50s) and is fairly adept at playing both sides of the line. He signed one of the strictest abortion bills in the country and he oversaw a massive Medicaid expansion. He probably feels fairly safe with the teacher vote because his paltry $1000-a-year raise allows him to say he gave the teachers their first raise in many years.

All in all, I think Edwards feels pretty safe.

His two Republican challengers, Eddie Rispone and Ralph Abraham, are splitting the Republican vote and it’s entirely possible that Edwards can stay comfy in his leather chair without having to worry about a runoff election. Should one of those two Republicans drop out, it might be a different story, but nobody is talking about that.

Adding more fuel to the gubernatorial debate stage will be the fact that now the governor’s office has miraculously discovered a budget surplus:

“Louisiana likely will have a $500 million budget surplus for the most recent fiscal year, significantly more than the $300 million initially thought, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration said Friday, setting off a new round of debate in the governor’s race over the state’s financial situation.

“Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told lawmakers in a joint budget hearing that the larger surplus will allow the state to pay for “dramatic needs” in infrastructure, including a $14 billion backlog in road and bridge projects, and the Edwards administration cast the news as proof the state has emerged from years of uncertainty with a stable budget.”

Louis Gurvitch at The Hayride would like to remind everyone of the facts: Here are the plain facts: “Taxes are way up, the state’s oil and gas industry is being destroyed by lawsuits and over-regulation, and Louisiana’s percentage increase in government spending is the highest in the nation! Don’t even bother to ask about the government reforms we were promised…”

Gurvitch speaks the truth. I love Louisiana, but we are not attracting new business with the excessive tax burden we have in this state, and we are indeed over-run by trial lawyers.

The primary is October 12. We will see then if Edwards stands alone or if he will go to a runoff.

Links:
https://beta.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/06/top-governors-races/?noredirect=on

https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/elections/article_284b8438-d4b5-11e9-a813-375cc60d6770.html

Report from Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Eases Blanco’s Last Days

Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco died August 18; she had been suffering from ocular melanoma.

Whether or not one agrees with her politics, pretty much everyone will concede that Governor Blanco was a class act. She was always gracious and kind, and her love for the state of Louisiana was never questioned. She caught a lot of heat during Hurricane Katrina, but no one ever questioned her love of the state or the city of New Orleans.

Last week The Advocate reports that toward the last days of her life Governor Blanco turned to medical marijuana for relief from the pain of her advanced disease.

Medical marijuana was made legal in Louisiana in the 1970s but it took until 2019 for all of the loopholes, regulation, and proper framework to be put in place. Now the drug is distributed as an oil by nine pharmacies throughout the state. It is legal in about thirty-three states in the U.S.

In July 2019, Blanco entered hospice care and by August was receiving medical marijuana. The drug was immediately effective on her and relieved her from the blackouts that she had from morphine. Her family insists that the oil returned a valuable quality of life to Blanco’s last days.

From The Advocate:

Blanco-Hartfield [Blanco’s daughter], put half a milliliter of oil under her mother’s tongue. “Within 60 seconds, her whole body relaxed,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “She smiled and a peacefulness came over her. It was amazing.”

The following day, Blanco-Hartfield gave her mother a mixture of two milligrams of crushed methadone that had been dissolved with a peppermint into water and half a milliliter of marijuana oil.

“All she had to do was let it go down her throat,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “By that night, she was smiling, eating, laughing and drinking. She could speak one-word commands. We never imagined we’d see that again. It made all the difference in the world that she no longer had to take the morphine.”

According to the family, Governor Blanco was able to rest comfortable, eat, and participate in important family events in her last days, and they believe that if the drug had been available sooner, Blanco may have even lived longer.

The drug remains very expensive, but if it does in fact provide such relief to terminal and to suffering patients, certainly it should be accessible.

Link to The Advocate story: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_1a4e44be-cb6a-11e9-8292-fb567939e0f0.html

Report from Louisiana: Medical Marijuana Eases Blanco’s Last Days

Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco died August 18; she had been suffering from ocular melanoma.

Whether or not one agrees with her politics, pretty much everyone will concede that Governor Blanco was a class act. She was always gracious and kind, and her love for the state of Louisiana was never questioned. She caught a lot of heat during Hurricane Katrina, but no one ever questioned her love of the state or the city of New Orleans.

Last week The Advocate reports that toward the last days of her life Governor Blanco turned to medical marijuana for relief from the pain of her advanced disease.

Medical marijuana was made legal in Louisiana in the 1970s but it took until 2019 for all of the loopholes, regulation, and proper framework to be put in place. Now the drug is distributed as an oil by nine pharmacies throughout the state. It is legal in about thirty-three states in the U.S.

In July 2019, Blanco entered hospice care and by August was receiving medical marijuana. The drug was immediately effective on her and relieved her from the blackouts that she had from morphine. Her family insists that the oil returned a valuable quality of life to Blanco’s last days.

From The Advocate:

Blanco-Hartfield [Blanco’s daughter], put half a milliliter of oil under her mother’s tongue. “Within 60 seconds, her whole body relaxed,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “She smiled and a peacefulness came over her. It was amazing.”

The following day, Blanco-Hartfield gave her mother a mixture of two milligrams of crushed methadone that had been dissolved with a peppermint into water and half a milliliter of marijuana oil.

“All she had to do was let it go down her throat,” Blanco-Hartfield said. “By that night, she was smiling, eating, laughing and drinking. She could speak one-word commands. We never imagined we’d see that again. It made all the difference in the world that she no longer had to take the morphine.”

According to the family, Governor Blanco was able to rest comfortable, eat, and participate in important family events in her last days, and they believe that if the drug had been available sooner, Blanco may have even lived longer.

The drug remains very expensive, but if it does in fact provide such relief to terminal and to suffering patients, certainly it should be accessible.

Link to The Advocate story: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_1a4e44be-cb6a-11e9-8292-fb567939e0f0.html