State Treasurer John Kennedy says state revenues for the first quarter of this fiscal year are down 13% compared to the first quarter of last year. Kennedy says tax collections from individuals and businesses are down, while sales tax receipts are flat.
“Overall, I’m disappointed. I think we’re starting to see more of the bite from the declining oil revenues, that’s part of it.”
Kennedy says the national economy and the fact that the legislature raised taxes 800 million dollars last spring are some other factors in play with Louisiana’s declining revenue. He says you can’t raise taxes without having economic implications and the state is still spending more money than we take in.
“The longer we delay dealing with this, the worse it’s going to get. We’ve got to come up with a plan to deal with it without gutting higher education like a fish.”
Kennedy believes the Jindal administration created much of the revenue problem and it has a moral obligation to deal with it. He says Jindal should at least try to come up with a plan to deal with the reality right now.
“These are not good revenue numbers. You cannot put lipstick on a pig here, it’s still a pig. And while I hope it doesn’t happen, it could get worse.”
After a lengthy investigation, authorities in St. Martin Parish have busted a cockfighting ring in Breaux Bridge. Major Ginny Higgins says three men were arrested for their part in cockfighting and were booked into the St. Martin Parish Correctional Center.
“Investigators launched an investigation into that allegation. They were able to obtain a warrant, they executed the warrant and when they did they arrested three gentleman in connection with the cockfighting.
Higgins says animal cruelty is taken very seriously. She says on the property authorities found and confiscated 48 roosters and over 300 hens and chicks.
“They were taken into custody by the St. Martin Parish Animal Control.”
Higgins says 30-year-old Dallas Grossie of Butte La Rose and 28-year old Brandon Cormier of Breaux Bridge are both charged with 24 counts of Cruelty to Animals and 24 counts of Cockfighting. She says 50-year-old Patrick Stelly of Washington is charged with 48 counts of Cruelty to Animals and 48 counts of Cockfighting.
“You look at the charges, one of the gentleman was charged with 48 charges. That’s because there is one count for each rooster that he had in his possession.”
A television ad targeting Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards has been released by the Republican Governors Association. In the commercial, the RGA tries to link Edwards to President Barack Obama.
Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a strategy that has worked for Republicans for the last several years.
"Republican run against Barack Obama and the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she is, like Mary Landrieu, it's not about them it's about their ties to Barack Obama."
The ad claims Edwards has repeatedly supported President Obama and that he plans to raise taxes. The RGA is reportedly spending $1 million to spread this message across the state. Pinsonat expects that Edwards' negative ratings will increase as more people view this commercial.
"He will lose a lot of his white support that appears right now because voters don't know a lot about John Bel Edwards, but they're getting ready to find out a lot about him."
In a statement, Edwards says this is a last ditch effort to stop the only candidate for governor that will truly expose and change Governor Jindal's broken policies. Pinsonat feels Edwards will fight the ads by focusing on what he plans to do as governor to make things better in Louisiana.
"What's wrong with that is Louisiana voters, a vast majority of white voters, they don't look at what's happening locally. They're turned off by Democrats at the national level and what Barack Obama's doing with national Democrats."
David La Certe has resigned as secretary for the state Department of Veterans Affairs. La Certe did not provide a reason and neither did the governor's office, who named Thomas Enright as interim secretary. But Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says his office has investigated the department and its handling of the state's five nursing homes for vets and uncovered problems.
"What we found was, when the homes would do their quality assurance reviews, they didn't always look at those high-risk areas and the department did not know that because they weren't collecting the data," Purpera said.
It's been reported there have been complaints about physical and sexual abuse inside the Veterans homes, and excessive drinking by some of the residents. Purpera would not comment on specific allegations, but said their report found 531 areas of noncompliance.
"About half the time when they had a deficiency they would note, about half the time they didn't have an action plan to follow up on it and correct the deficiency," Purpera said.
Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street also says they are investigating the state Department of Veterans Affairs, but would not go into anymore details. Purpera, who appeared on the Jim Engster Show, says they are still investigating the state agency as well.
"My auditors are continuing to look at some things there at the department and some of the homes," Purpera said.
During Saturday's game versus LSU and the Gamecocks in Tiger Stadium, the Red Cross will be on hand collecting donations for flood relief efforts in South Carolina. The game was moved to Baton Rouge while Columbia continues recover.
Nancy Malone with the Red Cross in Louisiana says LSU has always stepped up in disasters.
"So the Red Cross will be out there, we'll be outside the stadium before the game at the gates," said Malone. "We'll also have six vehicles so if you want to drop by and drop off your donation we'll make sure it gets where it needs to be."
Malone says the American Red Cross is working hard on a massive relief operation in South Carolina -- making sure people have shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on.
She says devastation like this is personal to LSU fans who know what it's like to deal with flood waters and the destruction that goes with it.
"We're a caring group down here in Louisiana and everybody wants to help," says Malone. "So this is an easy way to do it. You can write out your check in advance, make it out to the American Red Cross and note South Carolina floods on it so we can get it directly to them."
She says Tiger fans have always helped when our friends needed it.
"We've seen it with baseball fans before Oklahoma's Super Regional after there were tornadoes there. Similarly when there were tornadoes in Alabama during a game," said Malone. "We also did it at Tiger Stadium after Hurricane Isaac."
Malone says in addition to donating on the LSU campus Saturday, you can always make a gift to Red Cross disaster relief online at redcross.org or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Early voting for the October 24th election begins Saturday and runs through October 17th, excluding Sunday. Secretary of State Spokesperson Meg Casper says early voting is becoming quite popular among voters.
"I think it's just because people are busy on election Saturdays and so early voting gives them the option to go and vote on their time and on their schedule."
Early voting will be available from 8:30AM to 6PM daily at registrar of voters offices across the state and other select locations. Casper says there's a lot on this ballot in addition to the governor's, lt. governor's, and attorney general's races.
"All of the state legislators are up for re-elction, there are four statewide constitutional amendments on this ballot, and there are 73 propositions in about 27 parishes statewide."
She says you can go online to geauxvote-dot-com to find out where to vote and what's exactly on your ballot. Casper expects early voting for this election to be busy.
"I think people just need to be prepared for a little bit longer lines than normal, this is a highly anticipated election. And don't forget to bring your photo ID with you so you can get through the line quickly."
State Police announces they will use the Louisiana Department of Transportation’s website, twitter accounts, and smart phone app to relay information about traffic crashes, congestion and roadway construction. Trooper Dustin Dwight says LSP currently uses the Nixle alert system to provide notifications but now they’ll work even more closely with DOTD to give traffic updates.
“I think it’s a benefit for Louisiana motorists. This new system and the partnership with DOTD really allows more useful ways for us to get out traffic notices to the traveling public and I think it’s going to be a significant improvement.”
Dwight says State Police and DOTD are teaming up to give drivers a more unified message about what’s going on in your specific region. He says drivers can see real time traffic updates on the “Way to Geaux” app, which is available in the iTunes App store and Google Play.
“This Way to Geaux application can actually look at your GPS location, tell where you are and then give you live feedback on whether there is construction, a closure in that area, in your vicinity.”
Dwight says DOTD has eight twitter accounts for different regions across the state to give the most current updates. He says motorists can additionally receive quick access to traffic conditions by visiting 511LA.org.
“The benefits of just going to the 511LA.org, you can pre-plan a trip and look and see that traffic is backed up in Slidell, maybe I need to utilize an alternate route.”
To make South Carolina feel as much at home as possible when playing in Tiger Stadium, LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland will play USC’s fight song tomorrow. LSU Band Director Roy King says the Tiger Band is full of talented musicians and hopes they can play it as well as USC’s band performs it.
“It’s very similar to other music that we play but every school has its own way of playing their own fight song. We’re listening to their recording and we’re trying to play it as well as they play it.”
King says we’re going to play South Carolina’s alma mater, "We Hail Thee Carolina," during the pregame show before the LSU alma mater. He says the Tiger Band felt this was an appropriate gesture considering the circumstances.
“I’m so proud of my students here at LSU and their willingness to be here to support all our fans and in this case all the South Carolina fans, as well.”
King says they’re excited to get the chance to plan for an extra home game. He says many students in the Tiger Band had plans to visit family or be out of town but every member agreed to play in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
“We have to sort of deal with these things. Every time in the past this kind of thing has occurred, the Tiger Band has answered the bell and this weekend it’s their turn.”
Three people are dead and two others seriously injured from an explosion and fire at the Williams Partners' natural gas facility in the Terrebonne Parish town of Gibson. State Police spokesperson Evan Harrell says the workers were performing maintenance on the facility, which was not operational at the time and did not have gas flowing through the system.
"We don't know what actually caused the explosion," Harrell said."Everything right now is going to be under the investigation of what led up to the explosion and what actually caused the explosion at that facility."
Two of the people killed have been identified, 40-year-old Samuel Brinlee of Berwick and 36-year-old Casey Ordoyne of Larose. They worked for Danos, which is a construction company in Larose.
Harrell says the two workers who were seriously hurt are now in the care of doctors who treat burn victims.
"We are talking about serious, life threatening injuries," Harrell said.
One of the victim's was transferred to Baton Rouge General's burn unit and is listed in critical condition.
"Anytime you have something like this, you always have to think about those workers and the families of those workers and what they are going through," Harrell said.
Internationally-known Louisiana superstar chef Paul Prudhomme has died following a brief illness. Prudohmme's New Orleans restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, confirmed the news this morning.
Wendy Waren, Vice-President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, says this is a tremendous loss for the Louisiana restaurant family.
"Chef Paul is the individual who really put Louisiana creole cuisine on the international stage in the late '70s and early '80s, along with Miss Leah Chase and Chef John Folse."
The Opelousas native was 75-years-old. Prudhomme first gained fame as a chef at Commander's Palace where he became executive chef in 1975. In 1979, he opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen and introduced the blackened redfish craze. Waren says part of Prudhomme's popularity was his personable, relatable personality, but it was the food kept people coming back.
"Whenever you took a bite of his food, it was really flavorful, multi-dimensional, and it utilized Louisiana's indigenous cuisine and produce."
Over the years Prudhomme authored nine cookbooks and hosted five nationally televised cooking shows on PBS. In 2013 Prudhomme was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame. Waren says Chef Paul was one of the first people to promote Louisiana cuisine to the world.
"He really related to the bounty that we have here and shared it with everybody who he came in contact with."
State Police say a 5-year-old child was struck and killed by a passing vehicle on LA 83 in St. Mary Parish. Master Trooper Brooks David said the child was outside chasing his dog when the animal ran into the road.
"The child ran into the road after his dog, and unfortunately the vehicle that was traveling on the roadway was unable to stop in time," said David.
David says the driver of the vehicle traveling on the road at the time, 38-year-old James Hopkins III of Baldwin, hit the dog and the child.
"The child was transported to a local hospital, and unfortunately succumbed to his injuries there," said David.
David says the crash took place when it was dark outside, around 7:30pm Wednesday.
He says Hopkins was properly restrained and is not suspected of being impaired so he will not be cited in this incident.
"Our hearts go out to him too because I know it's going to be a hard thing for him to deal with going forward," said David. "He tried to do what he could to do avoid it but he was just unable to."
In the latest televised gubernatorial debate, three of the candidates discussed how they would solve the state’s budget problems. Republican Jay Dardenne says he would consider an income tax increase on residents but also look at other options as well.
“We have to be honest with the people of Louisiana and say that we’ve got to look at our picture of revenue, we’ve got to look at our picture of the way state government operates and I think we have an obligation to consider everything and to lay on the table for the people of Louisiana what their options are.”
Democrat John Bel Edwards says he will not raise personal income tax because we don’t have to do that to tackle our budget problems. He says he will expand the Medicaid programs to create more money and lower tax rates.
“We’re going to grow the economy in a way that produces net new revenue. We all know that the best way to increase revenue is not by increasing tax rates, it’s by growing the economy. We’re going to bring our federal tax dollars home.”
Republican David Vitter did not attend the debate because he was attending to business in Washington D.C. Republican Scott Angelle says we don’t have a revenue problem in Louisiana, we have a priority problem and he plans to create a commission to look at the various tax breaks the state gives out.
“What we need to focus on is tax credits and tax giveaways. We have got drunk on giving away the people’s money. It is time we bring a process to Louisiana.”
The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office is mourning the loss of one of its deputy who was killed in an off-duty crash involving a juvenile driver. 32-year-old Deputy Troy Verheyden was killed in the Tuesday night crash in Deville.
Lt. Tommy Carnline says State Police conducted the investigation into the crash.
"It appears that a 16-year-old driver ran a stop sign at the intersection of 1206 and 115 and that's when he hit Deputy Verheyden, who was going through the intersection."
Verheyden was pronounced dead at the scene. The two juveniles in the car that ran the stop sign received moderate injuries and were transported to local hospitals. Carnline says Verheyden had been with the Sheriff's Office since 2013.
"First as a part-time communications officer and then later he became a full-time corrections officer with us. He had been a reserve deputy from 2006 to 2010."
Deputy Verheyden leaves behind a wife, a daughter, and a son. Carnline says the public outpouring of support is appreciated by the Verheyden family and the Sheriff's Office.
"In law enforcement these days, everybody knows that we're all family. And when something like this happens, as Sheriff Hilton said, there'a no logical understanding that can ever be made of a tragedy like this."
UL Lafayette industrial design graduate student Kate Brown decided to take an alternative route for her senior thesis project. Brown entered the Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition where she designed a comfortable and form fitting life preserver, made especially for women. She says growing up on the water in Basile, she found regular life jackets didn’t let her move comfortably.
“It was a clear opportunity for me to take the skills I’ve been developing in school and use it toward something, a product I had a personal connection with.”
Brown says her live jacket is different from traditional vests because it’s specially designed to fit a more feminine body form. She says the Comfort Flex Life Vest has a relief cut under the arms so it won’t ride up over your shoulders while in the water.
“What I did with my life jacket is I made a pattern that fits snuggly under your arms and I chose a material that had a natural elasticity to it.”
Brown came in third place and won two-thousand dollars in the competition. She says she’s now working to get a patent and wants to ensure the life vest meets Coast Guard approval.
“The big thing is getting it Coast Guard approved. To me, without getting it Coast Guard approved you still don’t have a product. It’s very necessary that it meets safety requirements.”
The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is sending personnel to South Carolina in response to the devastating floods impacting the state. Director Kevin Davis says South Carolina sent his office a request for assistance.
"We have two that are going to help in conducting damage assessments there in South Carolina."
He says personnel from his office will work with South Carolina officials in conducting damage assessments. Davis says South Carolina requested aid through the federal Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
"It was created many years ago on a federal level so that states could request personnel, equipment, and commodities to help in disaster relief efforts."
He says GOSEP stands ready to help those in other states who face disasters such as this one. Davis says damage assessment can be exhausting work and our friends in South Carolina definitely need support.
"As you can imagine, they've been at it now since Sunday. So this helps relieve them and give them additional support on the ground."
With the unexpected change of venue to Baton Rouge for the LSU-South Carolina game the Capital City is getting a little extra tourism. President of Visit Baton Rouge Paul Arrigo says they’re excited to welcome the fans from all over and hope everyone has enough time to make plans and attend the game.
“We’re excited about that, the exact impact we’re not exactly sure. Let’s just say we’re not going to lose any business over it. We think that it’ll have a significantly positive impact.”
Arrigo says although Baton Rouge is hosting a soccer tournament, a major business conference and a beer festival this weekend, the city is able to handle an unexpected increase in visitors.
“South Carolina is certainly a great SEC school and I think it would be great to show the folks that come throughout that region what a wonderful city we have in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and to come back again and again.”
Since the South Carolina game was originally a road game for LSU, Arrigo says many people already have plans for this weekend, and that includes weddings, but he hopes people can adjust their schedules to go to the games.
“Let’s hope that those who don’t have plans, or those that can alter their plans, or work around include Baton Rouge in their plans, that they come to Baton Rouge and have a wonderful time that we know we can extend to them.”
LSU football season ticket holders have until 5 PM Thursday night to purchase tickets for Saturday’s game against South Carolina in Tiger Stadium. At six PM Thursday, tickets will be available to the general public. LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva says since they only had a short time to prepare for Saturday’s game, lines at concession stands could be longer than usual.
"It probably won't be as good as a normal game as far as having a full staff of people to do concessions and having all the staffing that we normally do."
A decision was made Wednesday morning to re-locate the game from Columbia, South Carolina, because of severe flooding in the Palmetto state. Alleva says they will attempt to make South Carolina feel at home, but they are NOT painting the field in Gamecock colors.
"While we really think it's a great idea we're not going to be able to do that because we do have a game next week. The field basically is going to be the same as it always is for an LSU game."
Alleva says at this time they are not anticipating a crowd of 100-thousand for Saturday’s 2:30 kickoff, but they hope to have a great atmosphere inside Tiger Stadium….
"I have no idea. I hope our fans turn out. This is a lagniappe game for our fans. I hope they turn out and support both teams."
In a blog post following the mass shooting at an Oregon community college, Governor Bobby Jindal says the gunman's father is partly to blame for the deadly incident. Jindal says the killer's father was never in his son's life and failed to raise his son.
LSU Health Sciences Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Kristopher Kaliebe says the governor does have a point.
"I think that common sense tells us, and the data we do have confirms, that many of these mass murderers did have troubled childhoods and did not have good relationships within their family."
The gunman's father says he had not seen his son in the two years since he moved to Oregon with his mother. Kaliebe says it's true that when children are not raised in warm loving households, bad results can happen.
"When you have a society that has firearms available and you have kids that have been treated very badly, a lot of them end up growing up into angry people."
The gunman killed nine people and wounded nine others before turning a gun on himself. Kaliebe says lack of parental guidance is just part of the issue.
"There is a subgroup of shooters that have a real true mental illness and some of them probably did grow up in warm, loving households and probably had good parental involvement."
The mother of the shooter told investigators that her son was struggling with mental health issues.
South Carolina University announces their game with LSU will not be played in Columbia as originally scheduled, but instead they will come to Baton Rouge.
The game will begin at 2:30 PM. Which network will televise the game has yet to be announced.
During the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday morning, Gamecock Coach Steve Spurrier said in light of the catastrophic flooding, whatever decision was made needed to be one that was right for the community of Columbia.
"What's best for the victims of the flood is something that has to be taken into serious consideration," said Spurrier. "So wherever they tell us to go play this game, we'll do our best to go compete against LSU."
The game will be considered a South Carolina home game, with the Gamecocks reportedly collecting ticket and concession revenue while reimbursing LSU for the cost of its expenses.
Here's ticket information....
According to the LSU Ticket Office, LSU season ticket holders will get an email Wednesday afternoon (likely in the 2-3 p.m. range) containing assigned times to log on and buy their tickets. The order will be determined by TAF priority level.
The deadline for season ticket holders to purchase tickets for Saturday’s game has been set at 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Per the ticket office, whatever tickets are left will be put on sale to the general public at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Student tickets will be available online and will go on sale at 2 p.m.
The LSU Faculty Senate has voted to censure LSU President F. King Alexander and two other individuals for the firing of a teacher who is accused of using profanity and sexual content that allegedly made students feel uncomfortable. Early childhood education teacher Teresa Buchanan was a tenured professor and dismissed in June. LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope says they’re disappointed how Alexander handled the situation.
“We’re hoping that the LSU administration will take this to heart and change its approach and its attitude. This case has been mishandled and we need to do better in the future.”
In a statement from F. King Alexander, he says students have the right to learn in an environment free of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Cope says they’re not talking about the guilt or innocence of the teacher, just the process by which she was fired.
“There has been an accusation of a violation of federal law but there has been no proper legal process to determine that. In the absence of such a process, we are left puzzled as to why such a dramatic punishment was inflicted.”
Alexander says LSU firmly supports tenure but when the rare exception occurs, action must be taken to prevent the continuation of the damaging and counterproductive environments. Cope says the censure is a signal from the academic community that Alexander isn’t providing the kind of leadership needed at LSU.
“It’s also a signal to the board of supervisors that it needs to develop some kind of remedial program to get the LSU system back on track so it can really function as a great university.”