Several times lately, individuals disgruntled with the newspaper or a newspaper representativeís position on political issues has suggested that the writer in question run for office.

I have to wonder yet again at the notion of folks who have either never read a newspaper or seem to have forgotten that newspapers have been taking stands on issues for hundreds of years without their writers feeling it necessary to run for office. Itís one of the many reasons the War of Independence was fought, as any elementary school student should know.

Journalists do not run for public office. The two do not mix. Yes, there have been cases of this happening in some places, but I submit that this is not proper.

It stuns me that people would suggest such a thing these days. Iíve been in this business for 26 years now, and in all the battles Iíve fought at four different newspapers and one radio station, Iíve never had anyone suggest we run for office before. Where is this kind of thinking coming from?

Thatís the way the founding fathers set it up, guaranteeing that Congress could not interfere in journalistic duty. Itís a fundamental constitutional principle.

Itís mind-boggling to me still that people get elected and for one reason or another they get in hot water with the newspaper and act like theyíre shocked and amazed. Did they never read a newspaper before? Whatís even more amazing is that some of these people have cheered the newspaper on for getting in a snit with some other public official, but when the shoeís on the their own foot it doesnít fit very well. Even if youíre not an elected official and just on one side of an issue or another, indignation over a newspaper taking a standÖit just surprises me. Itís what we do, have always done.

Itís fine and dandy to blow off some steam by suggesting a reporter, editor, publisher or whatever "run for office" if they donít like how things are being done, if theyíre so high-and-mighty, whatever, but that just ainít the way the cow chews the cabbage, boys, and Iím frankly shocked that they donít realize that.

We do what we do, we have for hundreds of years, and if we didnít do it there would be chaos.

Now, Iím not saying weíre always right in this business, and Iím not saying everyone has to agree with us. Thatís the nature of human beings, and if we all agreed this subject wouldnít even have come up. Every editor, reporter, photographer, advertising rep and paper boy doesnít agree unanimously on all or even most issues. We have some knock-down, drag-outs sometimes ourselves.

But to suggest that because a journalist takes a stance on an issue that is contrary to a public officialís position the journalist should run for public office is just plain silly. You think because Walter Cronkite blasted Lyndon Johnson that Cronkite should have run for President? Please. This nation was and remains a far better place for the likes of Cronkite as he was, not as he might have been. The same can be said for Edward R. Murrow and a bajillion other newsmen.

Disagreeing with the newspaper is fine and dandy, itís what we stand for in the first place, but please, donít be ridiculous by suggesting journalists should seek to better their community by running for office. Thatís like saying that great olí founding newspaperman Benjamin Franklin should have tried to better America by running for King of England. Itís just plain silly.

To paraphrase a letter circulated on this very topic by a parish councilman this week:

God Bless America and Freedom of the Press.

óó

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathleen Blanco made the bold and correct choice of a veto to liquefied natural gas facilities off the coast of Louisiana.

There remain too many questions on the issue of whether or not the open-loop seawater exchange system poses a danger to Louisianaís fisheries, both commercial and recreational. The governor rightly vetoed the plant and amazingly, within a day or two the company said, "Well, fine, then weíll look at doing it another way." Maybe they could have found a safer process in the first placeÖ?

The governor is also continuing to demand and use her leverage to obtain oil royalties from outer continental shelf drilling in the fight for coastal restoration, and she shows no signs of backing down. Bravo from here.

Once again, we as Louisianians must stop selling our heritage and our irreplaceable resources to big oil and big industry. A few hundred jobs isnít worth the collapse of our fisheries industry and the further decay of our coastline, leaving us more vulnerable to hurricanes. We let dredges strip all our barrier shell reefs from the coast, we let oil companies and the like diminish our coastline to barely anythingÖwe need to start protecting our stateís natural resources and environment because in the end, as Iíve always said, itís about protecting ourselves.