He’s movin’ on up! Tangipahoa Parish Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell occupied our Couillon spot two weeks ago for his refusal as a custodian of Louisiana law to perform marriage ceremonies for interracial couples. The case, much to our chagrin, made national headlines and once again reinforced the not-entirely undeserved reputation Louisiana has as a redneck backwater. Bardwell’s knuckle-headedness had state officials of every political stripe calling for his resignation, and last week he did just that, firing off a letter to Secretary of State Jay Dardenne. Fortunately, Bardwell’s resignation also made the news cycle — a little salve on a fresh wound.
We just don’t get it. By we, we mean Louisianans. The Advocate reported last week that State Police Troop I — they cover the Acadiana region — have arrested nearly 1,600 drunk drivers this year. That’s roughly the population of Duson swerving and skidding about, and that’s just on state highways and interstates over which state police have jurisdiction. How many drunk drivers are weaving around city streets? According to the same article, Lafayette police alone made more than 300 arrests in the first six months of 2009. With the holiday season fast approaching, Acadiana’s drive-thru daiquiri stands and convenience stores with their piled-high 24-ounce cans of ice-cold beer should be busy. And so should police.
Ed Blakely is the worst kind of couillon — a smug one. New Orleans’ former hurricane-recovery director — we’re loath to call him a czar — left his post late last summer, dropping the ego-padding observation that the Crescent City was in the midst of “the fastest recovery that anyone has ever seen.” But last month in an interview with the University of California-Berkeley’s television network, Blakely called New Orleans residents “racist” and “lazy” and predicted race riots in the city. It was a stunning Jekyll-Hyde display, and based on a Times-Picayune analysis of the urban planner’s actual achievements in New Orleans, completely without merit. As the T-P concludes in a recent editorial: “It is predictable that Mr. Blakely now is looking to direct blame away from himself. It is unconscionable, though, that he is smearing this community in an effort to cover his own inadequacies.”