Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

Jan. 23

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on Saints coach reinstated:

First the Falcons lost a heartbreaker to the San Francisco 49ers, which saved Saints fans from seeing the Dirty Birds in the Dome for Super Bowl XLVII. Then NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated Saints coach Sean Payton Jan. 22.

This might just be the happiest moment for Saints fans since Bountygate began to unfold last March.

There was that sweet victory over the then-undefeated Falcons in November, but the joy was short-lived. Dreams of playing in the Super Bowl in our own stadium gave way to the reality of missing the playoffs altogether.

The loss of Coach Payton for the year, the suspensions of Joe Vitt and Mickey Loomis and a court fight by players challenging the commissioner's punishments were all too much for the team to overcome.

If the Falcons had made it to the Super Bowl here, it would have been an added cruelty. But, thankfully, the 49ers took care of that. And with Sean Payton back, fans can start focusing on next season.

"I am thankful today Commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement. As I stated back in March, I, along with Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program," Coach Payton said in a statement released by the team.

"I feel we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to move forward," he said in the release. "I want to thank our owner, Mr. Benson and all of our great fans for the overwhelming support throughout this past year."

Saints fans will always be loyal. Even as the losses mounted, the Dome was raucous on Sundays.

Now, though, we can start to get our joy back.



Jan. 28

The Courier, Houma, La., on the state in the Super Bowl spotlight:

It's difficult to turn on ESPN without seeing live shots of New Orleans.

The same is true of various other media outlets, which are in Louisiana to cover the Super Bowl or at least some of the hype surrounding it.

There will be reports from the two teams' headquarters and more and more shots of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — the center of the activity and the site of the big game.

If you go to New Orleans you will see some recently added structures, TV sets built for on-site broadcasts leading up to the Super Bowl.

You will also see a huge number of visitors in town for the game. There are tens of thousands of fans and journalists who are going to the game.

Altogether, the event is giving the city and the entire region attention and recognition that money simply cannot buy.

This is always a happy side-effect of hosting the Super Bowl. But since Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 BP oil spill, getting good, healthy images of New Orleans and Louisiana out to the nation has become critical.

Even the people who might know that our region has largely recovered from both disasters are still far too familiar with the terrible images of grief and suffering that were all-too-familiar immediately after them.

It is crucial for our tourist-dependent region of the state that potential tourists think of us for swamp tours, beignets, Bourbon Street and Super Bowls, not for oiled beaches and scenes of mayhem.

It sounds silly to people who are familiar with Louisiana and its recent triumphs and tragedies, but for people in New York or Los Angeles, images can linger long past when they were accurate depictions of what was happening.

The Super Bowl puts our state's best-known city on a stage before the world. And we all come out better for that attention.

Then there is the money.

The amount of sales taxes collected from Super Bowl visitors is hefty, and that money is spent all around the state, not just in New Orleans.

When millions are spent in the Crescent City, the benefits are spread to all of Louisiana. And this is one of those times.

Some tend to think of the Super Bowl as a sporting event, but it is so much more than that.

It is a spotlight on New Orleans and Louisiana, and we are ready for our close-up.



Jan. 27

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on "The Big River Works":

One of the best initiatives of the last year was not strictly governmental, but encompassed public and private sectors involved in the economic and environmental development of the Mississippi River watershed.

Called "The Big River Works," the initiative of the America's Wetland Foundation aims to provoke the kind of wide-ranging discussions that are appropriate for the giant of the river that is vital to America and to Louisiana, where it meets the sea.

"The river remains the lifeblood of the Midwest but its global connections to agriculture, manufacturing, energy and other sectors make it the nation's main artery of commerce," wrote R. King Milling, a New Orleans civic leader, in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

In meetings up and down the river last year, a barge load of experts and interest group representatives talked about the long-term issues facing the river. ...

Meetings in St. Louis and Memphis last year, and now Minneapolis at the very head of the river, will be followed by a Chicago meeting in April. In every case, the agenda will promote cooperation among the myriad communities, economic interests and civic groups with profound interests at stake in the river's future.

As we know all too well in Louisiana, and Milling noted for upriver readers, the river's history "is riddled with decisions that have long-lasting consequences. In a recurring example, sediment that is dredged or trapped by structures or levees along the river's main channels to allow for shipping and flood control, starves lower river wetlands of their life source. ...

The Big River initiative is pushing recognition of the vast economic importance of the river, including the vast bulk of the nation's agricultural exports. Those are endangered lately by low river levels, and consequent bickering among the states and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the maintenance of the river.

But the environmental impacts of the river are substantial, as more than 40 percent of the country's migratory birds and 25 percent of North American fish species depend on the Mississippi River system. Altogether, the river and its tributaries touch 31 states and the lives of more than 60 percent of Americans, the Wetlands Foundation reported.

We look forward to lessons learned and initiatives going forward, but the reality is that as big as the river's problems are, more than just a mandate from some federal Pooh-Bah will be required to make changes for the better. ...

Not to mention foresight about those unintended consequences.