Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers: Feb. 4
Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on post-Super Bowl:
New Orleans' latest turn as Super Bowl host is drawing to a close. The game has been played. A week's worth of parties, public service projects and the myriad events attached to the NFL's championship game are history. ...
So, it's time to say thanks for coming and have a safe trip home. And we sincerely mean that. Having so many guests in the city has been a blast. We hope everyone's had as good a time as we have. And we hope you'll come back soon.
That includes the NFL. The city's Super Bowl host committee said that it hopes to get a chance to bid on the 2018 game. The catch is that the NFL has to invite the city to put in a proposal for that game. But it's hard to imagine that the league wouldn't want to do so after the spectacular way this community handled this year's events.
There is special significance to 2018, which is the year that New Orleans will celebrate its 300th anniversary. Super Bowl XLVII co-chair James Carville noted that storied history in an interview with Politico. This city, he said, doesn't have to manufacture anything to host the game. "It's here. It's been here for 294 years. We just have to take what we have, shine it up a little bit, add a little something here and there — but 294 years of history and culture stand on its own."
New Orleans has a long history with the Super Bowl as well. This year's game was the 10th held here, which ties the city with Miami for the most times as host. The most recent before this one was the 2002 game played after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the previous fall. The gap between then and now was due, of course, to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches in 2005. In the more than seven years since, the people of this region have worked tirelessly to repair that damage.
That brings us to Super Bowl XLVII, which has earned our community rave reviews. The one glitch was the power outage at the Dome that interrupted the third quarter, which was unfortunate. But, as the game's Roman numerals float away on a barge on the Mississippi, New Orleanians should feel a sense of pride in the way we handled this mega-event. And then, at the NFL's invitation, we'll start preparing for the next one.
The Town Talk, Alexandria, La., on school security:
While those on the polar extremes of "the gun issue" continue to suck the air out of the room with their blathering, it's worth noting this:
On Jan. 31, an armed guard — a resource officer, like the ones who are deployed in Rapides Parish — took the gun away from a 14-year-old student who had opened fire at his school in downtown Atlanta, Ga.
The shooter wounded one boy, also 14, who has been hospitalized with a neck wound. No one else was shot; and the victim's injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, according to officials there.
Here's hoping for a full and speedy recovery for the young man who was wounded. His life has been changed by something that no one should have to deal with or worry about, especially at school.
As for the shooter, here's hoping he gets a very close examination and is made to feel the full weight of what he did: He shot a child. Then he needs to pay the consequences, whatever they may be.
This is worth mentioning today because things could have turned out much, much worse. Multiple deaths caused by schoolchildren — usually by boys — have become a sad reality in America.
In this case, at a middle school in downtown Atlanta, the presence of an armed resource officer — an armed guard purposely stationed in the hallways to protect children and teachers — made all the difference.
That reality belongs in the middle of the conversation about how or if we change gun laws in the United States.
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on cigarette tax legislation:
The resurrection of the idea of a cigarette tax increase owes more to mathematics than public health: Gov. Bobby Jindal is looking at potential sources of revenue to balance cuts in the income tax.
But that balancing act could lead the governor and legislators to look more strongly at an increase in tobacco taxes.
Whatever the source of the idea, there are solid potential benefits for the state in a higher tax on the leading source of lung cancer. While it is not a growth tax, as smoking is going down, the long-term costs of addiction and illness are substantial, when one includes treatment for the many health problems associated with smoking.
Many other states have raised cigarette taxes significantly, even Mississippi — our longtime competitor in the lower end of the range among the states. And the Mississippi increase was signed into law by then-Gov. Haley Barbour, the former lobbyist for a major cigarette maker.
How much Jindal might — emphasis, might — support in the way of an increase is not clear, although an aide noted that the administration is researching how much of an increase could affect consumer behavior.
That is a key point. Advocates of higher cigarette taxes have demonstrated over the years that teen smoking goes down as the price per pack goes up.
Andrew Muhl, government relations director for the American Cancer Society of Louisiana, said he favors a $1-per-pack increase with the money dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation and other health care-related expenses.
"Tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids," Muhl said.
That is why the state should have followed the lead of more progressive states in the past years with cigarette tax increases.
We urge lawmakers, whether the administration's revenue equation requires it or not, to consider tax hikes on tobacco products.