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May 6th, 2005:

“Louie Louie” reinstated

What a relief: It’s safe to play “Louie Louie” after all.

Benton Harbor Supt. Paula Dawning reversed her decision Thursday after parents at McCord Middle School came out in support of the song.

“The school district operates in collaboration with the parents and based on them granting permission and the multiple versions of the song, the students will march in the parade and play ‘Louie Louie,’ ” Dawning wrote in a statement.

[…]

Dawning expressed concern that the allegedly racy content of The Kingsmen’s hit made it an inappropriate choice for the band to play at Saturday’s Blossomtime Festival, even though the marching band was not going to sing it.

But band members and parents of McCord students complained to the Board of Education Tuesday that it was too late to learn another song in time for the festival, The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported. In addition, many parents said they doubted the students even know the words to “Louie Louie,” the newspaper reported.

The lyrics are included in the story, so maybe by now Ms. Dawning has read them for herself and learned that they are uncontrovertably non-racy. It’s so much easier to make an informed decision when one has all the relevant information, isn’t it? Thanks to Blake in the comments for the tip.

By the way, just so there’s no confusion: Despite my comment about this story bumping off the anti-cheerleader bill as Dumbest Story Of The Week, this little kerfuffle took place in Michigan. Texas is a big state, but it’s not quite big enough (yet) to hold that much stupidity in it all at once.

Abramoff and SunCruz

Since we first heard the name “Jack Abramoff”, there have been plenty of stories which have shown him to be a sleazy and unethical greedhead. You can add this one, which Steve compared to a “third-rate episode of The Sopranos” in forwarding it to me, to the growing pile. Here’s a taste:

Not long after Abramoff and his partners bought SunCruz Casinos in September 2000, the venture ran aground after a fistfight between two of the owners, allegations of mob influence, dueling lawsuits and, finally, [SunCruz founder Gus] Boulis’s death on Feb. 6, 2001. Now, Abramoff is the target of a federal investigation into whether the casino ship deal involved bank fraud. According to court records, the SunCruz purchase hinged on a fake wire transfer for $23 million intended to persuade lenders to provide financing to Abramoff’s group.

Although the outlines of the tale have become part of South Florida lore, what has not been disclosed are the full details of the alleged fraud at the heart of the transaction and the extent of Abramoff’s role — including his use of contacts with Republican Reps. Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Robert W. Ney (Ohio) and members of their staffs as he worked to land the deal.

The SunCruz story combines the South Florida of novelist Carl Hiaasen with the Washington of influence-peddling K Street: Thousands of pages of bankruptcy and other court records, along with dozens of interviews in Florida and Washington, reveal secret deals; a forged document; double-crossing partners; and socializing with government officials on a private jet, at the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach, at a Monday night football game in a private box at FedEx Field, and at an exclusive party on Inauguration Day in Washington.

It’s all pretty amazing. Check it out.

State Rep. Joe Moreno killed in car crash

Some very sad news.

LA GRANGE — State Rep. Joseph Moreno of Houston was killed today when a pickup truck he was driving overturned on a highway.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and a legislative staffer suffered minor injuries. Police said Moreno, 40, who was driving, apparently overcorrected after the truck slipped off the shoulder of the eastbound lane of State Highway 71.

The truck veered into the median and flipped several times, said Lawrence Roome, communications officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety Communications station in Pierce. All three occupants were wearing seatbelts.

Anchia and Monica Lisa Pinon, chief of staff to state Representative Joseph Pickett of El Paso, were taken to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin where they were treated and released.

Moreno, a Democrat, was first elected to the House in 1998. Anchia, also a Democrat, was elected in 2004.

My condolences to Rep. Moreno’s family. He was a good guy, and he’ll be missed.

UPDATE: The Chron story linked above has fuller coverage now. Rep. Aaron Pena remembers his friend.

UPDATE: More from Marc Campos and Stace Medellin.

UPDATE: More from Rio Grande Valley Politics.

“Louie Louie” forever!

I’d like to take a moment and thank Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning for officially dethroning Texas’ Anti-Cheerleader Hoochie bill as the dumbest news story of the week. She did so by banning “Louie Louie” from the McCord Middle School band’s repertoire because it has “allegedly raunchy lyrics”.

Dawning said that if a majority of parents supports their children playing the song, she will reconsider her decision.

“It was not that I knew at the beginning and said nothing,” Dawning said. “I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played.”

Putting aside the fact that a middle school band version of “Louie Louie” will be, you know, an instrumental, I’m dumbfounded that forty years after the FBI declared these lyrics to be non-obscene there are still people who think that the Kingsmen are doing an R-rated ditty. Here’s the unvarnished truth, if you think you can handle it. One can only hope that the other parents in Benton Harbor are more culturally literate than the complainer and Ms. Downing.

Thanks to Matt for the tip.