Recent Commentary
Author: James Hartman Created: 2/5/2009 10:22 AM
James Hartman, Staff Writer


Recession woes are everywhere and folks are cutting back on luxury spending, right? Wrong. An economic downturn, while having a negative impact on certain market sectors, is also having the ancillary effect of pumping some businesses in the upward direction. “Pumping,” in fact, may be a very suitable word, since swimming pool sales are brisk not in spite of but in response to fears of recession.


Turns out that instead of spending money on expensive trips or big-ticket items that lose value (like cars and trucks), folks are investing in home improvement projects and taking “stay-cations” in their own backyards instead of vacations at exotic resorts. “I’ve been busy for a couple of months,” said Chris Tartamella, owner of Caribbean Pool and Patio in Hammond. “If you want your pool in for Memorial Day, you need to shop early.”

“The temperatures have been a bit low, but things are good,” said Evi Jeansonne, co-owner of Pools and Stuff in Slidell. “Busy season just started.” “Business...

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It’s no secret that the real estate market hereabouts has been through an upheaval-and-a-half in recent years. Once the bedrock of the northshore economy, homebuilding has become a struggling sector. The housing market, though, is more than just black or white.

Modular homes, built indoors and then trucked to a home site, became all the rage post-Katrina. Now, they’re barely a ripple in the local housing pond.

“Many people confuse manufactured housing, or trailers, with modular homes,” said Ben Kirk, director of government affairs for the St. Tammany and Washington Parish Homebuilders Association.

Modular homes don’t look like mobile homes, or trailer homes, or what are now called “manufactured homes” – at least not once they’re installed. They are built in factories so the materials are never exposed to the elements. Then they’re placed onto trucks in modules and assembled on the prepared home site.

When modular homes hit their peak after Katrina, it was largely due to the...

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Since voters decided that in odd-numbered years legislators could only tackle fiscal issues – that is, those dealing with taxes, appropriations, and other financial matters – the balance of things has shifted. Unlike even-numbered sessions such as last year’s when thousands of bills were filed, this year brings a modest 1,129 bills as of press time. Representatives have brought 857 legislative instruments, and Senators have initiated 322.

But here’s the kicker: Even in “fiscal-only” years, each legislator can still file five non-fiscal bills. 

The race to encumber those bills is fierce, with special interests, constituents and others trying to lock down legislators early, seeking pledges to give a non-fiscal bill to this cause or that.

While money, money and money are the order of the day this year – particularly as Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a financial crisis requiring the trimming of billions from the state’s budget – there’s still plenty of non-fiscal drama to go around,...

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“When you mention chiropractors, people often think one of two things – ‘back’ or ‘quack,’” said Dr. Dale Rollette of the Rollette Chiropractic Center in Hammond.

And, indeed, the good doctor may be correct. Chiropractic care has only been legalized in Louisiana since the mid 1970s, long after many states adopted laws to regulate the practitioners of vertebral realignment long said to ease discomfort in the joints and promote better health. Lingering prejudices against the profession kept many insurance companies from compensating chiropractors for their services for many years, but times have changed.

“The nervous system controls every function of the body, and if there’s an interruption in the messages from the brain to other parts of the body due to misalignment, the patient will be more susceptible to disease or pain,” said Dr. Nancy Dominick-Gravel of Care Chiropractic in Mandeville. 

The science behind chiropractic theory and treatment is relatively simple, as Dominick-Gravel...

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If you live in St. Tammany Parish and haven’t gotten an email in the last month asking you to sign a petition to raise the homestead exemption… well… then you probably haven’t checked your email.

For weeks, an online petition has been circulating with a promise that at 5,000 signatures it will be forwarded to every member of the Legislature. The goal of the petition is to raise the Homestead Exemption – long set at $75,000 – to more than double that amount, a step that would require a constitutional amendment and that would result in no small amount of angst for local taxing authorities. It’s also not all it’s cracked up to be.

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