National Public Radio remembers Bay St Louis on Katrina plus 5

NPR remembered Katrina plus 5 on weekend edition today (Hat Tip Editilla) in an 11 minutes segment.  Those interested in listening or reading the report at NPR can click here. Here is a snippet:

“But we need people — need people coming back, coming home. That’s what is going to do it. That’s what’s going to pull us through. But — just like my parents — what’s preventing them from coming home is insurance.

“I’m sure people around the country think, ‘Why do those people live there? They’ve got oil spills. They’ve got hurricanes.’ But you just look over that water and there’s something that grounds you here. It’s beautiful and the people here are beautiful, and that’s why we stay.”

Mississippi State Sen. David Baria of Bay St. Louis has introduced insurance reform bills in the legislature for the past three years; he can’t get them through committee. Continue reading “National Public Radio remembers Bay St Louis on Katrina plus 5”

The Sun Herald Remembers Katrina plus 5: Katrina anniversary coverage miscellany

John Fitzhugh / The Sun Herald

The Sun Herald has extensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina for the 5th anniversary of the storm. Here is a quick roundup: 

State Senator David Baria, who represents Katrina ground zero, wrote an excellent guest Op-Ed for the Sun Herald. He covers the insurance problems and the failure of the state’s leadership to solve the problems with the dysfunctional wind insurance market and how that has hindered our post storm recovery. He points out the 6 coastal counties supply 35% of the state’s tax revenues which makes our insurance problem a state wide problem. 

Tammy Smith looks back on one million coast Katrina recovery volunteers (and counting) and chronicles a group on the coast now from Bucks County Pennsylvania.  The good people in Bucks and Montgomery Counties Pennsylvania have true angels for the people in Hancock County since the storm. Continue reading “The Sun Herald Remembers Katrina plus 5: Katrina anniversary coverage miscellany”

5 years later and Katrina ground zero is still the red headed step child: Katrina plus 5. So what? The same old tired song most everyone is sick of hearing.

Well, the WaPo at least put a link up to a few pics from the Mississippi Gulf Coast but little else and today’s feature story is about the trainwreck that is the post Katrina recovery in New Orleans from incompetent leadership at NOPD and from the Mayor, Ray Nagin to the outright thievery and unbridled corruption that is the Jeffersons.  The media likes train wrecks.

That said you cross the line from cognitive bias to outright ignorance when you lede a review of Kathleen Kock’s new book on Bay St Louis, When the Levees Broke: Kathleen Koch, ‘Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered’.  Kathie herself unwittingly explains why the national media as a whole had little interest in the Mississippi Gulf Coast as train wrecks evidently make better news:

I decided to write the book the week that we covered the storm. We were down there the entire week, from Sunday before the storm hit to the following Saturday, and I told the people at the citizens’ station in my hometown in Bay St. Louis, “I promise I’ll never let anyone forget what happened here,” and I meant that. I had already seen the media spotlight switch to focus on New Orleans, but I also saw before my eyes towns in an 80-mile stretch that looked like Armageddon. And every single story you do, there’s a lot that falls on the cutting-room floor — you accept it and you move on — but this was part of my town’s history, and it was so largely untold that I didn’t feel it was right to take stories to the grave with me. Continue reading “5 years later and Katrina ground zero is still the red headed step child: Katrina plus 5. So what? The same old tired song most everyone is sick of hearing.”

Jim Brown

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


The score right now stands at former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich 23, federal prosecutors 1. The feds charged Blagojevich with everything but the kitchen sink, including shaking down a children’s hospital and selling the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Obama. With twenty-four felony counts against him, and after all the melodrama and hype by the prosecutors, he was convicted of the least serious change, and that could well be thrown out on appeal. So what do we have here — prosecutors gone wild?

A number of newspapers are sharply criticizing lead prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, editorializing that this grandstanding justice department lawyer was on a personal vendetta to bolster his own overblown ego. From day one, Fitzgerald has been “over the top” with his prejudicial pubic statements about the case.

When Blagojevich was first charged, Fitzgerald arranged to have the sitting governor arrested before dawn, like some thug accused of violent crimes, ready to blow town at a moment’s notice. At his grandstanding press conference, the U.S. Attorney spoke of “what we can only describe as a political corruption crime spree,” accusing Blagojevich “of the most appalling conduct” that would have “Lincoln rollover in his grave… It was a truly new low,” Fitzgerald told the nation. Continue reading “Jim Brown”

In a jam – toe and traffic

If you’re having “one of those days” and totally frustrated, think how you’d feel if caught in China’s massive traffic jam could last for weeks or confronted with the question: Will Footsies During a Deposition Lead to Sanctions?

Triggered by road construction, the snarl-up began 10 days ago and was 60 miles long at one point. Reaching almost to the outskirts of Beijing, traffic still creeps along in fits and starts, and the crisis could last for another three weeks, authorities say…

In the worst-hit stretches of the road in northern China, drivers pass the time sitting in the shade of their immobilized trucks, playing cards, sleeping on the asphalt or bargaining with price-gouging food vendors. Many of the trucks that carry fruit and vegetables are unrefrigerated, and the cargoes are assumed to be rotting.

On Sunday, the eighth day of the near-standstill, trucks moved less than a mile on the worst section, said Zhang Minghai, a traffic director in Zhangjiakou, a city about 90 miles northwest of Beijing. China Central Television reported Tuesday that some vehicles had been stuck for five days.

No portable toilets were set up along the highway, leaving only two apparent options – hike to a service area or into the fields. But there were no reports of violent road rage, and the main complaint heard from drivers was about villagers on bicycles making a killing selling boxed lunches, bottled water to drink and heated water for noodles…

The main reason traffic has increased on this partially four-lane highway is the opening of coal mines in the northwest, vital for the booming economy that this month surpassed Japan’s in size and is now second only to America’s…Although wages remain generally low, auto ownership and gridlock have grown so commonplace that Inner Mongolia authorities restrict cars’ movement to alternate days, based on odd or even numbers in their license plates.

Do you suppose the Brown Sims attorney who found himself in a toe jam has odd numbers on his license plate?  Above the Law has the story: Continue reading “In a jam – toe and traffic”

“Sparkle & Twang” – if you dress ’em up, you can take ’em out!

Mississippi Public Broadcasting has the story on Sparkle & Twang, on exhibit at Meridian’s Riley Center through September 18th:

“Country music history began in Mississippi with a man named Jimmie Rodgers in Meridian. Now, another Mississippian, country music star, preservationist and historian Marty Stuart is bringing his flashy collection of country music history back to the place where it all started…

Memories are the what the exhibit is all about. It’s called “Sparkle and Twang” and it celebrates country music history in all it’s gliz and glory. It includes Johnny Cash’s guitars, Hank Williams’ report card and handwritten lyrics to some of his greatest songs, a railroad lantern once owned by Jimmie Rodgers, and Patsy Cline’s makeup case and boots.

And then as a centerpiece, there are all those rhinestone studded stage outfits worn by the likes of Porter Waggoner and Webb Pierce.

The exhibit has toured the country. In addition to showing in Nashville, it’s been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles… Continue reading ““Sparkle & Twang” – if you dress ’em up, you can take ’em out!”

Breaking News! Judge Senter denies State Farm’s Motion to Exclude Testimony of Ralph Sinno – a Rigsby qui tam update

“It is a rare case in which the parties’ expert witnesses will agree on how physical evidence should be interpreted, and this is not one of those rare cases.”

Judge Senter’s decision was not exactly a surprise given his earlier Order referencing the testimony of Ralph Sinno but his Order and Memorandum of Opinion are nonetheless welcome news:

The Court has before it the motions [298] [715] of State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) to exclude the testimony of R. Ralph Sinno, Ph.D. (Sinno), one of the Relators’ expert witnesses. For the reasons set out below, this motion will be denied.

Sinno is trained as a civil engineer. His opinions concern the “Structural Response of the Property of Mr. And Mrs. Thomas McIntosh During Hurricane Katrina.” Sinno has made extensive engineering studies concerning the effect of hurricane force winds on buildings, and he relies on these studies along with his formal training as an engineer in forming his opinions…

The purpose of a motion challenging the qualifications of an expert is not to test the ultimate validity or credibility of the expert’s opinion. That is the job of the finder of  fact on a complete record. The purpose of this type of motion is to test whether the expert is qualified by training and experience to form the opinions he holds, to test whether those opinions are supported by factual interpretations and conclusions that are at least arguably sound, i.e. based on substantial evidence and reasonable assumptions, and to test whether the expert has reached his opinions using methodology and principles that are generally accepted in the expert’s field… Continue reading “Breaking News! Judge Senter denies State Farm’s Motion to Exclude Testimony of Ralph Sinno – a Rigsby qui tam update”

Flipping the wig on “whiggocracies”

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi”

When I need words to explain something “Mississippi”, I reach for the last work of the late (and great) Willie Morris, “My Mississippi” – and what words I find! Some, such as those of Faulkner, come as quotes from other Mississippi writers.  The most telling, however, are those words that show the depth of this understanding of this place he called “home”:

“It has been remarked that Mississippi has produced so many fine writers because the state is such a complicated place that much interpretation is required.”

Victoria Pynchon’s recent piece on Mississippi earwigging and Zach Scruggs was the impetus for my calling on Willie.  SLABBED considers Pynchon a friend.  In fact, we hold her  in such regard that the link to her “Settle it Now” Negotion Blog has been a constant on our blogroll and will remain so despite the “h” she inserted in “earwigging” or her need for “interpretation” of  the practice in this “complicated place”.

Here in this “complicated place”, perhaps because so many once lacked the skills to read and write, “earwigging” is not a reflection of a “whiggocracie” but is, instead, an art — a form of the storytelling that, like the run-on sentences often found in “our literature…and music” that boggies all night long — that doesn’t know when to stop.  Yet, it too, was grown “directly out of land and the sense of place – the mark of the land… the love of narrative:

One sees this at some times directly and at other times through a vivid concreteness and emphasis on detail, as in the stories we love to tell…We are talkers.  We talk about ourselves, each other, our ancestors, events, the funny and quirky and bizarre things people do — true stories, more or less, and the richer and more plentiful the detail, the better…Like storytelling, art of whatever form plays a communal role: it draws people together, helps them understand themselves and their common humanity…”

Pynchon’s article focuses on Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate his conviction for Misprision of a Felony, his failure to report the earwigging of Judge Lackey in the case of Jones v Scruggs.  However, in a March 2008 post, Earwigging — A Mississippi Tradition, Steve Eugster wrote of the earwigging by the Plaintiff’s attorney [Grady Tollison] in the Jones case: Continue reading “Flipping the wig on “whiggocracies””