Unintended, And Yet Unsurprising, Consequences

By now it might not be news to our readers that New Orleans Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest, whose Galliano-based Edison Chouest Offshore has been largely devastated by the recent collapsing demand for its offshore oilfield services, has opted out of a deal to buy out the team’s principal owner George Shinn. The NBA is now going to jump into the void and purchase the team from Shinn, and league commissioner David Stern says he’s firmly committed to keeping the team in the Big Easy.

Hopefully Stern is true to his word, and hopefully in time an ownership group can be found which will keep the team in the city over the long haul. But this is a patchwork solution. The preferred solution would have been a strong majority ownership by Chouest. And there’s a reason he pulled out.

The reason? Barack Hussein Obama. Or more to the point, Obama’s climate-and-energy czar and committed socialist Carol Browner, who demanded and received a six-month moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling in the Gulf as a response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Let’s remember that a panel of experts convened by the Obama administration rejected a moratorium on drilling as an appropriate response to the spill, and Browner’s office edited the Interior Department’s report promulgating the moratorium to falsely suggest their endorsement. Let’s remember that the administration has at turns lied and dismissed the damage to jobs in the Gulf region since the institution of the moratorium, which independent experts indicate number as high as 20,000. Louisiana’s unemployment rate has risen an entire point, to 7.5 percent, since the moratorium was put in place.

And let’s remember that one reason the job losses haven’t been a lot worse than 20,000 is heroic business owners like Gary Chouest have chosen to eat the cost of keeping their people on the payroll rather than turning them out on the street. In short, it’s been Louisiana companies who have borne the brunt of the president’s and Browner’s vanity offshore energy policy.

And of course, despite the administration’s happy talk about how the moratorium has been lifted, none of this is over. What we have now amounts to a permitorium. The loss of deepwater rigs still looks like a strong possibility, and the work in the Gulf is still largely at a standstill.

So with Chouest opting to preserve his 8,000 employees in their jobs, something had to give. That something was his purchase of the Hornets. He might revisit that position, and maybe he’ll get a better deal from the NBA than he was going to get from Shinn, who supposedly was trying to chisel him for some $25 million more than Chouest was willing to pay.

But the point is that it’s highly doubtful that the Sports-Fan-In-Chief at the White House, who regularly invites NBA players over for pickup games, realized that he was going to put a team’s existence in doubt when he allowed his climate czar and rumored future chief of staff to destroy the most productive sector of Louisiana’s economy.

Or maybe he did realize it. Maybe he just didn’t care. The Chouest family are heavy donors to the GOP and backed John McCain to the hilt in 2008, so perhaps Obama’s quite happy with the idea that Gary Chouest can no longer afford to own an NBA team.

Either way, this episode makes it more likely New Orleans will lose its NBA club – or at least have the Hornets become less competitive since free agent players like star point guard Chris Paul are more likely to opt out of an interim situation for a more stable operation. And it was entirely avoidable were it not for stupid, destructive policies like the one Obama inflicted on this state.



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