- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:


Sept. 27

The Advocate on the firing of LSU football coach Les Miles:

This time, they pulled the trigger.

After the heartbreaking loss at Auburn University, LSU power brokers gave football coach Les Miles his walking papers, along with his offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. Unlike last year’s drama, this was conclusive.

It was an emotional weekend for coaches and players of the team so avidly followed all across Louisiana and among alumni across the globe.

Miles’ farewell speech to the team brought out tears - for himself and his ex-players. They rose from their seats at its conclusion, giving the Ohio native a standing ovation, according to school spokesman Michael Bonnette, who added Miles told the team he’d be pulling for it Saturdays and urged them to go run the table.

“Very emotional,” safety Jamal Adams said describing the scene. “That man is so passionate about LSU.”

Very true.

Even Joe Alleva, the athletic director who had to pull the trigger this time, said as much: Les Miles was an extraordinary ambassador for LSU and for the larger community that the university and the team represent.

It was his personality as well as record that brought him to the Tigers a dozen years ago, and it was his awareness of LSU’s unique role in the state that was so important in the first crisis of the Miles years, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana. Real life intruded on football, but football’s return that year - hosted by the good people of Arizona, as the campus was otherwise engaged with evacuees - was one of the moments when our people could recover emotionally.

This year’s flooding in the greater Baton Rouge area also showed Miles’ community leadership at its best.

Those things are not what he was paid for, though, and the football program now has to adjust mid-season - never a good time for these transitions.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will serve as LSU’s interim coach, the second such stint of his career. Tight ends coach Steve Ensminger will serve as interim offensive coordinator.

Like Miles, we wish the team and its coaches the best in difficult circumstances. But it is fitting to let Miles go while remembering his role as a leader in tough times for Louisiana.




Sept. 23

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on flood relief in the state:

Senate leaders included $500 million for flood relief in the spending bill that will keep the federal government operating as the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The full Senate is expected to vote on the legislation in the next few days, and then it would go to the House. It seems likely the flood aid will make it through that process.

That is good news. But the recovery funding in the continuing budget resolution is far from the $2.6 billion President Barack Obama requested for Louisiana. It’s an even smaller pot of money than it seems since part of the $500 million in housing aid could go to repair flood damage in Texas and West Virginia.

But Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy stressed that this allocation wouldn’t be all the state gets. “They have stressed this is a down payment,” he said. “If we got $2.6 billion, we couldn’t spend it all between now and November, right?”

That is true. But Gov. John Bel Edwards had said he hoped the promise of aid could give residents confidence to start rebuilding from the devastating August flooding. A smaller amount of money could have less of an impact in that regard.

The Louisiana Flood of 2016 did an estimated $8.7 billion in damage across 21 parishes. More than 146,000 Louisianans have filed FEMA claims. For perspective, that is more than the 121,000 FEMA claims filed after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Edwards administration estimates more than 110,000 homes were damaged when two feet of rain fell in 48 hours on parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes. Most residents didn’t have flood insurance because they didn’t think they were at risk.

Unlike a hurricane, this storm wasn’t given a name by weather forecasters. That has made it more difficult to get Congress and people across the nation to understand the extent of the devastation.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter said in a statement Thursday that the flood is the fourth-costliest natural disaster in the past 12 years. The Red Cross has said it is the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“While this is a good start, Louisiana needs much more assistance and federal aid to start the rebuilding process,” Sen. Vitter said. “Hundreds of thousands of flood victims still face substantial rebuilding challenges …”

Majority House Whip Steve Scalise of Jefferson echoed that sentiment. “While there is more work to be done, securing this down payment is a critical first step forward in the recovery process.”

The entire Louisiana delegation and the Obama administration must work to ensure the state gets the full recovery package requested by the president and Gov. Edwards.

It isn’t surprising that Congress is considering only part of the $2.6 billion right now. The continuing budget resolution has been bogged down over funding for the Zika virus and the Flint, Michigan water crisis, and time is tight. The new fiscal year starts in a little more than a week, and both chambers are getting ready to recess until after the election.

“It is a difficult process because you have a lot of internal skirmishes going on between the House and the Senate and members of different parties - none of whom, best I can tell, are opposed to Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said this week.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, said Wednesday that he supports the president’s request and expects a portion of it to be approved before the recess. “We do support flood aid to the victims in Louisiana,” he said.

That is encouraging. Now Congress just needs to follow through.




Sept. 22

The Courier of Houma on Louisiana’s oil industry:

The head of a Louisiana oil industry group delivered a message of hope for an oilfield community hit hard by a downturn that started two years ago.

The price of oil has nowhere to go but up, Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, told members of a Houma-Thibodaux industry group Tuesday.

John, speaking to the South Central Industrial Association at the Quality Hotel in Houma, said since 1970, the median price of oil per barrel has hovered around $70 to $75.

“I believe $43.50 is totally unsustainable. We’re at the bottom end of what a price of oil should be, and I think there’s reason to be optimistic about where we’re going from here. It’s hovering at the bottom; it won’t go any lower. You can only go up from there,” he said. “The good news is that I believe that $70 to $80 is where the world feels comfortable with the price of oil.”

Sure, he’s only one voice in a sea of observers and insiders who offer varying opinions about where the oil industry - Houma-Thibodaux’s main economic engine - is headed.

But the message sure was nice to hear, especially on the same day a federal report showed Houma-Thibodaux had the second-worst economy of any metro area in the nation last year and another report showed the area lost 400 more jobs in August.

More than 7,000 jobs have disappeared from the local economy in the past two years, not just in the oilfield but across almost every type of business in a community that depends on high oil prices for prosperity.

If John is correct - and we hope he is - the next question becomes how high will prices go? Right now, they stand at less than half of what they were in the summer of 2014. In February of that year, as oil prices hovered around $100 a barrel, Houma-Thibodaux posted the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.8 percent. The latest figures peg the local jobless rate at 7.2 percent, 352nd among 387 metro areas nationwide.

Few, if any, analysts are predicting $100 a barrel oil anytime soon. Nonetheless, John’s prediction of an upward trend is good economic news for a community that could use some.



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