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New Orleans Attorney Profiles 2015
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Stephanie Grace: Gov. John Bel Edwards not trying to scare people? Sure looks like it

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards. ORG XMIT: BAT1601051615460496

Gov. John Bel Edwards insisted during his highly unusual address Thursday night that he wasn’t trying to scare people. Well, of course he was. Why else paint a doomsday scenario on statewide television three days before the Legislature will gather to deal with an immediate cash shortfall of nearly $1 billion and a hole… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: From Confederate monuments to police response times, New Orleans gave Carnival krewes plenty to mock this year

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- The Knights of Chaos parade uptown with 225 members including the captain and his lieutenants of horseback along with 16 floats to the theme "Chaos Theory"  in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.  The club members tossed float-specific and lighted throws.

Some news stories practically exist to be lampooned. So as this election-year Carnival season approached, the burning question was whether any target of ridicule could possibly trump Trump. Amazingly enough, the answer was yes. So give it up, ladies and gentlemen, for Gen. Robert E. Lee and his long-dead Confederate compadres, who made the job of… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Making nice not getting Gov. John Bel Edwards very far ... yet

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had clearly hoped that things would go differently. That the state’s politicians would give one another’s ideas a fair, open-minded hearing. That the Republican-dominated Legislature and Democratic administration — both of which can fairly claim popular support — would cling to Louisiana’s historically nonpartisan ways, rather than fall into a Washington-style war. That somehow,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Early signs hint at partisanship ahead

Earlier this month, I wrote a column predicting that, while Louisiana’s House of Representatives is clearly turning more partisan, Baton Rouge is still a long way from Washington. Do I have to eat my words already? We’ll see once lawmakers convene in a couple of weeks, but the first real signal out of… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Explosive growth of TOPS should serve as a cautionary tale

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- James Caillier, left, executive director of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation; Bob Baumann, with Taylor Energy; and Cody Wells, LSU student body president; testified against legislation that would limit TOPS awards to $3,200 per year. Caillier has criticized the growth in student fees -- which are not covered by TOPS awards -- as an end run around tuition hikes.

Back when Louisiana politicians launched TOPS a generation ago, they probably had no idea they were creating a monster. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students — named for late oilman Patrick Taylor, whose privately funded promise to help high-performing poor students attend college inspired… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: In partisan Legislature, Senate President John Alario remains master of the Senate, without dissent

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Senate President John Alario, Jr., R-Westwego, directs procedings in the Louisiana Senate during the Legislative session Wednesday.

As the Legislature gears up for a grueling special session, all eyes have been on the big power shift in the House, where the Republican majority broke with tradition and elected one of its own as speaker rather than going along with the Democratic governor’s favored candidate. Just as interesting as why that happened in the House… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Pro-life banners on St. Charles Avenue carry suggestion of government-endorsed message

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Banners featuring a fetus and a pro-life message are hanging from city-owned lamp-posts on St. Charles Avenue near Nashville Avenue Monday, January 4, 2016. The banners say the message is from Louisiana Right to Life.

As far back as anyone can remember, the city of New Orleans has offered up government-owned lampposts to organizations promoting this or that feel-good, hometown cause. So it’s entirely commonplace to drive down the street and see an array of banners touting a festival, a landmark school, hospital or church. The practice amounts to civic boosterism… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: After declaring independence, lawmakers must own whatever pain budget process inflicts

A rare contested election for House Speaker took place in the Louisiana House, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. Rep. Taylor Barras, left, R-New Iberia, won after two voice votes for House Speaker. Former Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, right, passes the ceremonial gavel to Rep. Barras, left, after the vote. Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, won for Speaker-Pro-Tem.  (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

When it comes to the balance of power between Louisiana governors and the Legislature, lawmakers have long pined for a more independent role. And this year, they finally acted on the impulse. The House, in dramatic fashion, ignored tradition and rejected Gov. John Bel Edwards’ choice for speaker, New Orleans Democrat Walt Leger. Instead, members of… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Potomac Fever not catching at State Capitol

Now that Republicans in the state House have rejected Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ choice for speaker, should we start referring to the capital as Washington on the Mississippi? Probably not. But neither is it the same Baton Rouge political watchers have always known, one that operated by a set of unwritten… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: John Bel Edwards' order scolds Bobby Jindal for forfeiting cool $3B in Medicaid funds

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks Tuesday at the State Capitol at a  press conference with legislators, community leaders, and key stakeholders, just after issuing his first executive order, No. JBE 16-01, to provide for Medicaid expansion in the state of Louisiana.  Dept. of Health and Hospitals Secretary Dr. Rebekah E. Gee, MD, is at right.

John Bel Edwards’ first executive order actually reads kind of like an accusation. After a day and night of inaugural festivities Monday, Edwards got down to business Tuesday, put his pen to paper and kept his promise to accept federal money to expand Medicaid for 300,000 or more poor Louisianians under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Why Monday shows John Bel Edwards won't have his way with Legislature without a fight

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. John Bel Edwards addresses the crowd after being sworn in as governor.

Can the honeymoon end before the wedding even takes place? That’s the question that hung over Gov. John Bel Edwards’ gubernatorial inauguration Monday. Edwards’ big event, held on the State Capitol steps under a crisp blue sky, went off without a hitch, and the new Democratic governor wore an ear-to-ear smile. But even… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Helping people isn’t going out of style for John Bel Edwards

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards, announces newly appointed cabinet members, Tuesday, January 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.

By 2007, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ sort already was going out of style. Democrats who fit his general profile — white, rural, conservative on social issues — were switching to the GOP in droves. Yet Edwards, who won his first term in the state House that year, says he never even considered making the switch. And… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Helping people isn’t going out of style for John Bel Edwards

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards, announces newly appointed cabinet members, Tuesday, January 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.

By 2007, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ sort already was going out of style. Democrats who fit his general profile — white, rural, conservative on social issues — were switching to the GOP in droves. Yet Edwards, who won his first term in the state House that year, says he never even considered making the switch. And… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. Bobby Jindal leaves in a forgiving mood

In perhaps his last official act as governor, Bobby Jindal this week granted clemency to 21 convicted criminals, from low-level drug offenders to a murderer who’d turned his life around to such an extent that Jindal trusted him to care for his three children. While he was at it, Jindal may as well have officially forgiven… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Scariest part of Donald Trump's Biloxi stop? Crowd seemed to buy his bluster, vitriol, name-calling, shameless preening

Buttons showing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are seen on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, before a rally featuring Trump in Biloxi, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana predictions for 2016 ... major Senate showdown plus big John Bel Edwards promises

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Governor-elect John Bel Edwards addressed the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce in his first speech in New Orleans since the election Friday, December 18, 2015.

This time last year, I never would have predicted that U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who’s always found a way to win, would implode. I also didn’t think that a little-known, populist but socially conservative Democrat from Amite would be a stronger gubernatorial candidate than, say, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu might have been. Landrieu was elected lieutenant governor… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Senate race could have a kids’ table, too

With all the candidates exploring next year’s U.S. Senate contest, the field could wind up being so unwieldy that Louisiana may have to replicate one of the worst innovations of this Republican presidential season: the kids’ table debate. Yet the more relevant guidepost for next fall’s election to replace retiring U.S. Sen. David Vitter is this… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Removing Confederate monuments in New Orleans the right thing to do

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Robert E. Lee will be vacated the circle that bears his name after a vote in today's city council.

When it comes to New Orleans’ four disputed Jim Crow-era monuments, put me in the good riddance camp. I know, I’ve lost many of you already, but some of you on the opposing side lost me many times during this emotional debate, too. Criticize Mayor Mitch Landrieu all you want for basically declaring the removals a… Continue reading →

Grace quick take: Battle of Mitch Landrieu vs. statues finally ends with Confederate monuments' fate decided

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Council member James Austin Gray II, foreground, and council president James Williams try to act as peace makers as Freedom Rider Jerome Smith, left, speaks past his allotted time and is escorted out but not arrested during the debate about the  removal of the Confederate monuments in City Council chambers in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. Gray says his middle name Austin comes from one of his ancestors who was a slave.

. Here are is Advocate political columnist Stephanie Grace's Quick Take on the New Orleans City Council's vote to take down four Jim Crow-era monuments: 1) Council supporters of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's move to take down monuments honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T Beauregard, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the leaders of a rebellion against the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Promising ideas for Louisiana clearly upon us after fog of Jindal's presidential campaign lifts

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards, right, answers a question as he and Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, hosted a joint press conference at the Governor's Mansion after meeting to talk about the transition.

It’s probably overstating things to say that John Bel Edwards’ resounding gubernatorial victory in reliably Republican Louisiana has made him a rising star among national Democrats, but the rare Southern victory has piqued interest throughout his party. Let’s hope it all doesn’t go to Edwards’ head. The last thing Louisiana needs is another governor who sees… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Odd legislative leadership tradition better than alternative

Face it: Louisiana has a lousy way of picking legislative leaders. While the administrative and legislative branches are nominally co-equal branches of government, the actual balance of power is so stacked in favor of Louisiana governors that they routinely anoint their own allies to head the House and Senate. This isn’t written down anywhere,… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana about to take yet another hit in Washington with David Vitter departure

Associated Press photo by J. SCOTT APPLEWHITESen. David Vitter, R-La., walks to the Senate at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.

A year from now, U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be busy packing up his Washington office after falling far short in his attempt to be Louisiana’s next governor. The same goes for U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, neither of whom is planning to run for re-election next fall. Last year it was former U.S. Sen. Mary… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: All eyes on John Bel Edwards in coming weeks; does Gov.-elect have a mandate for action?

Numerically speaking, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards gets to claim a mandate. That would be true for anyone who clobbered a well-known, well-heeled opponent 56 percent to 44 percent, even if the winning candidate belonged to the dominant political party. Given Louisiana’s decidedly Republican leanings these days, the Democratic landslide would seem to carry extra weight.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: We're now learning some 'behind-the-scenes tidbits' from Louisiana governor's race, campaigns

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gubernatorial candidates U.S. Sen. David Vitter, center left, and State Rep. John Bel Edwards, center right, stand and shake hands Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 after the Together Louisiana Statewide Assembly at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Others, from left, are the Rev. Jesse Bilberry (seated), Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, NOVA Workforce Institute graduate Barbara Freeman, Linda Johnson, Plymouth Rock Baptist Church, Fr. Richard Andrus, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and Bishop Gregory Cooper, Antioch Full Gospel Baptist Church. The candidates responded to questions on issues like the state budget, health care and workforce development at the event.

How badly did Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s camp want to face Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in the gubernatorial runoff? So badly that the super PAC set up to bolster his campaign briefly considered using some of the millions it had collected in unlimited donations to help shore up Edwards’ primary campaign. The… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: 'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!' Election ends Bobby Jindal, David Vitter eras; now what?

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions at a press conference in front of the Governor's Mansion about his decision to drop out of the U.S. Presidential race, the state budget deficit, Syrian refugees coming into the state and other topics.

Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges’ account of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ resounding victory ended with a virtual tour of election night celebrations, from the Monteleone Hotel suite in the French Quarter, where Edwards had gathered with family and close friends, to nearby Galatoire’s, where Republican Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand toasted the rare Democratic triumph in conservative… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: To describe David Vitter's plight, this Allen Toussaint lyric is perfect

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Sen. David Vitter concedes to John Bel Edwards in the runoff for governor Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, during his election-night party at the Airport Hilton in Kenner.

If the past couple of weeks around south Louisiana had a soundtrack, it would be the music of Allen Toussaint, the beloved New Orleans songsmith who died earlier this month, and whose vast catalogue has saturated the airwaves ever since. Maybe it’s fitting then, that one of Toussaint’s most pointed songs could… Continue reading →

How'd he do it? Stephanie Grace breaks down John Bel Edwards' gameplan to win governor's race in ruby-red Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- John Bel Edwards followed by his son John Miller Edwards second lines through the crowd at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 after winning the governor's race.

They say it’s better to be lucky than good, but Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards didn’t have to worry about the distinction in the march toward his remarkable victory Saturday. Edwards, a relatively unknown Democratic legislator from Amite, was both. And he needed to be in order to take down… Continue reading →