- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

March 31

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on the Louisiana Purchase:

Although the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died nearly two centuries ago, his mark on Louisiana remains clear. His Napoleonic code continues to be the basis of state law. Napoleonville, the parish seat of Assumption Parish, is named in his honor. He is also memorialized by the Napoleon House bar and restaurant in New Orleans.

But Napoleon’s chief legacy to Louisiana is Louisiana itself. In 1803, he sold the territory that includes Louisiana to the United States, advancing what is arguably history’s biggest real estate deal. That grand bargain, which paved the way for a young America to become a world superpower, is getting some fresh attention, thanks to a new biography of Napoleon by Andrew Roberts.

Nothing that Napoleon did was without controversy, and the Louisiana Purchase is a prime example of how he operated. Napoleon had told Spain that he wouldn’t sell Louisiana to a third party, but like many a politician then and now, he wasn’t about to let an inconvenient promise get in the way of doing what he wanted.

“President Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the United States at the stroke of his pen,” Roberts tells readers. “The Americans paid France 80 million francs for 875,000 square miles of territory that today comprises all or some of thirteen states from the Gulf of Mexico across the Midwest right up to the Canadian border, at a cost of less than four cents an acre.”

It was a great deal for the United States, but Napoleon thought it was a good deal for him, too. Defending that much territory from the United States would be an expensive distraction for him, so why not sell it outright to a potential rival and at least get some quick cash? In strengthening the United States, or so Napoleon figured, he could also create a foil for his principal adversary, Great Britain.

After inking the deal with Jefferson, Napoleon predicted, “I have just given to England a maritime rival that sooner or later will humble her pride.” As Roberts points out, Napoleon was right: “Within a decade, the United States was at war with Britain rather than with France, and the War of 1812 was to draw off British forces that were still fighting in February 1815, which might otherwise have been present at Waterloo.”

Even so, Napoleon lost to the British and their allies at Waterloo, now in present-day Belgium, and his fate was sealed. He lost power in France, never to fully regain his glory.

Meanwhile, the legacy of the Louisiana Purchase is an ongoing story. In 1803, American diplomat Robert Livingston predicted that the deal would allow the United States to “take their place among the powers of first rank.”

He would not be surprised, we think, at just how true his words turned out to be.




March 30

American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on military spouses:

The men and women of the U.S. military are at the whim of the government when deciding where to locate.

By proxy, the immediate families of service men and women are in the same situation, which often means putting careers on the back burner as spouses follow their significant others around. Military personnel often move from one base to the next every two to three years. That’s hardly enough time to put roots down and make inroads into a career.

Nancy Grade, a mental health counselor, recently found herself out of work when her husband, U.S. Air Force Maj. Erich Grade, transferred to Fort Polk. While she was licensed in Texas, it took five months before she was licensed in Louisiana earlier this month.

David LaCerte, secretary for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, told the Baton Rouge Advocate that she should have been granted a license earlier under a 2012 state law meant to help military families who are subject to moves. The process is still slowed for thousands of military families because of state boards’ interpretation of the law, he said.

The law, which covers both military trained professionals and spouses of military members, only requires state boards to issue temporary licenses while the applicants are undergoing the licensing procedure. The law also sets several standards for issuing the temporary licenses, including that spouses must hold a current license from another jurisdiction, must have completed continuing education and have had recent experience and not have been disciplined in another state for an act that would have resulted in the suspension or revocation of a license.

The purpose of the law isn’t a back door to get unqualified workers among Louisiana’s ranks. It’s a mechanism to ensure that the families of military men and women aren’t left high and dry and out of work when their significant others are ordered to pack up and head to a new destination in a new city and state.

It doesn’t sound like boards around Louisiana are necessarily trying to skirt the law. It appears that the law is open to interpretation, which can be fixed at the upcoming legislative session. Louisiana lawmakers need to take the opportunity to close the holes and make sure that another qualified individual isn’t left sitting on the sideline when the government decides it’s time for another move.




April 1

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, on health clinics:

Hot 8 Brass Band trumpeter Raymond Williams says the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic is vital to his health. “If I’m going to give my all on the stage every night, I’ve got to be healthy,” he says in a video that is part of the city of New Orleans’ pitch to be chosen for a City Accelerator civic engagement initiative.

The City Accelerator project funded by Living Cities and the Citi Foundation would help New Orleans connect residents with services offered by the Musicians’ Clinic and dozens of other primary health clinics in neighborhoods across the city.

New Orleans is a finalist along with Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Baltimore and Minneapolis. Several cities could make the cut, and New Orleanians can help the city make its case.

Community feedback on the videos produced by each city will be part of the selection process. Through Friday, April 3, you can watch the city’s video, rate it and leave a comment at https://www.governing.com/cityaccelerator.

That’s an easy way to help thousands of our neighbors in New Orleans who need these health services.

With support from City Accelerator, the New Orleans Health Department would develop strategies to let residents know what is available to them and how they can use clinic services. For instance, the clinics serve 56,000 patients, but some of them haven’t been in for a checkup in 18 months.

Health Department director Charlotte Parent, who was a nurse at Touro Infirmary during Hurricane Katrina, said the sort of outreach her department wants to do is an integral part of public health.

She also emphasized the importance of the network of primary care clinics that blossomed in our region post-Katrina. “New Orleans is a city of neighborhoods,” and residents needed vital services where they live, she said in the city’s video.

Since the disaster, dozens of clinics have opened across the city and in Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes. Others that existed before Katrina - like the Musicians’ Clinic, which has operated since 1998 - have been able to serve more people.

That has been possible thanks mostly to federal funding and a waiver that allows residents here who are uninsured but don’t qualify for Medicaid to get care at the nonprofit clinics.

Unfortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration zeroed out the clinics in the budget presented to the Legislature last month. Legislators must find a way to put the $7.7 million for the clinics back in. If not, another $12.6 million in federal matching money would be jeopardized.

The clinics have income from other patients, and the Musicians’ Clinic and some others have ongoing fund-raising campaigns. But the budget cut recommended by the Jindal administration would force clinics to cut staff and services, said Susan Todd, executive director of the 504HealthNet coalition.

The federal Medicaid expansion that is part of the federal Affordable Care Act would cover many of these patients and tens of thousands of other low-income Louisiana residents. Gov. Jindal has refused to accept that money, but some lawmakers have introduced bills for the 2015 session in hopes of overruling him.

The Medicaid expansion would provide health coverage for more than 240,000 Louisiana uninsured residents and would provide a stream of revenue to help the primary care clinics in New Orleans thrive.

For his part, Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working hard to find resources to support the clinics’ mission. “As a city, we want to use innovative techniques that help ensure all residents are taking part in our community’s revival,” he said in announcing the City Accelerator proposal. “We can’t do this alone. We need the public’s help. Please show your support and pride for the city of New Orleans.”

It only takes a few minutes to watch the video and rate it. Do that, and then let your state senator and representative know how important it is to keep funding these clinics.



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