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A Fordham Institute study finds 28% of public school teachers missed more than 10 days of work compared to charter school teachers at 10%. But Louisiana Federation of Teachers spokesperson Les Landon says Fordham skews data to show public education isn’t doing well. He says the report also claims generous collective bargaining agreements lead to an increase in teacher absences.

“As far as collective bargaining being the reason, especially in Louisiana which is a Right to Work state and there are only about five or six collective bargaining locals in the state, that’s just a bogus argument.”

Landon says teachers in charter schools are often much younger than traditional public school teachers. He also says they are extremely mobile, as many educators in charter schools come from the Teach for America Program.

“They’re a fairly new experiment. They may not have as many medical issues as veteran teachers. Young teachers without families don’t need to take sick leave to care for children or spouses.”

Landon says teachers are entitled to 10 sick days according to state law. He says traditional public school educators and charter schools teachers are not comparable.

“There are many factors involved and we tend to think this is an apple and oranges situation.”



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After a long wait, the car-sharing service, Uber, is finally available in Monroe, West Monroe and areas governed by Ouachita Parish. Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo says his office has spent the last six months working on a contract with Uber and he knows the city is excited it’s finally official.

“They’re very excited about it, in fact, we’ve done a lot of announcements over the years and this will be right there with them.”

Mayo says he’s also hoping to work out a deal with Lyft as well. Mayo says ride-sharing services are needed because they have many visitors coming into the city, because of businesses like CenturyLink, Chase, Advantage and Gardner Denver Thomas.

“You need a 21st century service such as these net world countries to be able to accommodate them.”

Mayo says he knows Uber has already signed up a lot of drivers who are looking to make some extra money driving people around town. The mayor thanks the city council and the city attorney’s office for helping to make Uber a reality in Monroe.

“It just goes to show that it took a team effort to get this done, to get a service that’s reliable and affordable for our citizens.”



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LSU’s suspension of Greek activities in the wake of the death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver, is rife with constitutional concerns, according to attorney Scott Sternberg. LSU officials said fraternities and sororities can’t tailgate in a group of more than 10, or do most things together as an organization. Sternberg says LSU is trying to teach these students a lesson.

"But I just think there are constitutional ways to do that, without throwing these adults underneath the bus as it relates to their constitutional rights," said Sternberg.

Sternberg also questions the prohibition of wearing Greek attire on LSU’s gameday. He fails to see how that has anything to do with educating students about making good decisions.

"I think that the basic constitutional rights that this country was based on, are the ability to identify with your group," said Sternberg.

Sternberg said a public institution should not be allowed to tell these adult students that they can’t exercise their basic rights of association. He says telling an organization that they can’t have a group gathering in a public forum, where everyone else can, is incredibly problematic.

"It's also impossible to enforce," said Sternberg. "There's no way to identify, whether or not these individuals are in the same organization."


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Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the TV host bashed the health care plan being pushed by US Senator Bill Cassidy. “The Jimmy Kimmel Test” is what Cassidy had previously said on the show the nation’s healthcare system should pass, but Kimmel on Tuesday accused Louisiana’s Senator of being a liar.

"He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, lower premiums for middle class families and no lifetime caps," said Kimmel. "Guess what? The new bill does none of those things."

Cassidy responded soon after on CNN and implied Kimmel didn’t understand the bill. The Jimmy Kimmel test would mean no family should be denied medical care, because they can’t afford it. But Kimmel said the Graham-Cassidy bill is a scam that’s trying to sneak in confusing language which does nothing they claim it does.

"And these guys are counting on you to be overwhelmed with all the information, you just trust them to take care of you," said Kimmel. "But they are not taking care of you. They are taking care of people who give them money, like insurance companies."

Kimmel listed organizations that oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill, then flashed a goofy picture of Cassidy and asked who people should trust. He then urged people to call Cassidy’s Congressional office.

"Tell him that this bill doesn't pass your test," said Kimmel.


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From 3-to-6 PM Thursday, young adults can attend a job fair in their area to find seasonal work or a full-time job. The Louisiana Workforce Commission Business and Career Solutions Center is hosting the job fairs at 25 locations. LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie says to find the job fair closest to you go to laworks.net. 

"We have over 1,000 seasonal jobs that we are trying to place our youth that are 18-to-24, out of school specifically, into these jobs," Dejoie said.  
Dejoie says the average wages for these jobs are starting at $10 an hour. 
"This is an opportunity for young people to get what we call those essential work place skills, come into work on time, following instructions, dealing with difficult people and different circumstances," Dejoie said.
Walmart is one of the companies participating in the Seasonal Job Fair as the national retail giant plans to hire 1,250 workers in Louisiana for the holiday season.
Dejoie says providing job opportunities for young adults helps with their professional development and the state's economy. 
"Help them to pay their bills, their tuition, cost of living, help their parents and also gain valuable work experience," Dejoie said.
Here is a list of the job fairs from 3-6 PM on Thursday, September 21 at the LWC's Business and Career Solutions Centers. 

Southeast Region:

• JOB1 Career Center and Youth Works: 3400 Tulane Ave., 2nd floor, New Orleans

• St. Charles BCSC: 737 Paul Maillard Rd., Suite 2A, Luling

• St. John BCSC: 975 Cambridge Dr., LaPlace

Capital Region:

• McKinley Alumni Center: 1520 Thomas H. Delpit Dr., Baton Rouge

• Ascension BCSC: 1721 South Burnside Ave., Gonzales

• Livingston BCSC: 9384 Florida Blvd., Suite B, Walker

• Tangipahoa/St. Helena BCSC: 1745 SW Railroad Ave., Suite 201, Hammond

• Washington BCSC: 420 Ave. B, Bogalusa

Acadiana Region:

• Lafayette BCSC: 706 E. Vermillion St., Lafayette

• Acadia BCSC: 11 N. Parkerson Ave., Crowley

• Iberia BCSC: 601 Ember Dr., New Iberia

• St. Landry BCSC: 1065 Hwy. 749, Opelousas

• St. Mary – West BCSC: 600 Main St., Franklin

• Terrebonne BCSC: 807 Barrow St., Houma

Southwest Region:

• Calcasieu BCSC: 2424 Third St. Lake Charles

• Beauregard BCSC: 1102 West First St., DeRidder

Central Region:

• Rapides BCSC: 5610-B Coliseum Blvd., Alexandria

• Concordia BCSC: 107 N.E.E. Wallace Blvd., Ferriday

• Avoyelles BCSC: 320 Cottage St., Marksville

Northwest Region:

• Caddo BCSC: 2121 Fairfield Ave., Suite 100, Shreveport

• Bossier BCSC: 4000 Viking Dr., B-1, Bossier City

Northeast Region:

• Ouachita BCSC: 1162 Oliver Rd., Suite 9, Monroe

• Morehouse BCSC: 250 Holt St., Bastrop

• Franklin BCSC: 3290 Front St., Winnsboro

• Jackson BCSC: 236 Industrial Dr., Jonesboro



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The State Department of Children and Family Services reports that the number of babies born in Louisiana who are exposed to alcohol and drugs while in the womb has tripled from 2008 to 2016. Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare Rhenda Hodnett says last year, that number reached nearly 1,700.

“Marijuana is the most common but we certainly have seen an increase in opioid use and that contributes to the overall increase in substance abuse newborns.”

Hodnett says DCFS works to push prevention, awareness, and intervention for children born addicted to drugs. She says caseworkers are assigned to help in the areas with the biggest problems.

“Baton Rouge, Alexandra, Lafayette and New Orleans, those are the areas where our numbers are the highest so we provide special training for those workers, we have special intervention.”

Hodnett says they are partnering with the Children’s Trust Fund to prevent mothers with substance abuse problems from using while pregnant. She says an awareness campaign has also been initiated.

“We just recently released a guide, a tool kit, around substance exposed newborns. It has resources for professionals, as well as, the general public.”



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Governor John Bel Edwards released an email poll asking if Louisiana residents support raising the minimum wage. ULM Political Science Professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says this survey is more about fundraising, as many of his supporters already want to increase the state’s minimum wage, which is $7.25.

“Going to click on the poll to indicate yeah of course I support minimum wage and while you’re there, you’re directed to support his campaign because he supports minimum wage.”
Stockley says this message was also sent out to raise awareness that this is a campaign pledge the governor ran on and he continues to support it. He says Edwards is looking for more public support, as this issue is not gaining traction in the legislature.

“You’re hoping that general awareness is raised and the public gets fired up about minimum wage and then they lean on their legislators to support minimum wage.”
Bills to increase the minimum wage have been introduced in the legislature the last two years, but despite the governor’s support they have failed to make it through the process. Stockley says since the governor has made it known he plans on running for reelection in 2019, it’s important that he continues to fight for a higher minimum wage.

“Because if he doesn’t fight for it, his supporters say well you promised this and then you quickly dropped it. Most of us aren’t going to buy political expediency.”


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The dangers of hazing have become an important conversation in the wake of LSU freshman Max Gruver’s death. Gruver was pledging at Phi Delta Theta and high amounts of alcohol were found in his system. Executive Director of HazingPrevention.org Emily Pualwan says hazing is complicated and has been around for centuries. She says it’s different than bullying.

“The need and the want to belong to something is strong. People will find themselves subjecting and consenting to things that they know are wrong because they want to join that badly.”

Pualwan says universities can look back and see a pattern of hazing, but only realize the escalation after something as terrible as a death occurs. She says hospitalization and death are the only way for the public to know about hazing and unfortunately it can have fatal consequences.

“There has been at least one recorded hazing death each year, going back to 1959, probably more. Of those deaths, 82% involved alcohol.”

LSU has temporarily shut down their entire Greek system after Gruver’s death. Pualwan says there are couple of private schools that have eliminated Greek life and they hope universities and fraternities learn from the mistakes that have led to tragedy on college campuses.

“We believe that you can work within the system to do a better job of learning the risk factors and educating everybody involved.”



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There could be a number of legal issues if any type of hazing related charges are pressed against fraternity members at LSU where an 18-year-old pledge died last week. Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says a major grey area in a case like that of Max Gruver, is whether the hazing victim consented to some extent.

"Just like in a boxing match. If you get in the ring and consent to being punched in the face, you can't really criminally prosecute the other boxer for committing what would otherwise be a battery," said Ciolino.

Ciolino says if the conduct surpasses what the victim has agreed to, that's when the law is broken. He says clearly the DA is involved in this case and it's likely going to come down to whether there was gross negligence in serving alcohol to Gruver.

"And that negligence caused his death, I wouldn't be surprised to see a negligent homicide prosecution," said Ciolino.

Ciolino says there are laws that protect social hosts and bars from liability for serving alcohol to adults, but not to minors.

"Obviously this victim was a minor, so those immunities that typically might apply won't apply in this case because a minor was the victim," said Ciolino.


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The Baton Rouge Police Department announces Kenneth Gleason is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the random deaths of two black men last week that cops had said could be racially motivated. BRPD Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam said Gleason is also being charged for allegedly shooting up a black family's home near his parents' house.

"Had there not been a swift conclusion to this case, I feel confident that this killer would have killed again," said Dunnam.

East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore said the suspect's DNA was found on shell casings, which he added normally doesn't happen. He said they were initially able to connect the shootings because of the disturbing way each incident unfolded.

"He shoots from the car, then after that person is taken down on the ground, he gets out of the car and apparently stands over the victim after the victim is injured or already dead, and continues to fire," said Moore.

Moore said the suspect allegedly prepared for the killings by purchasing weapons and multiple types of ammunition. He added that while the suspect is innocent until proven guilty, based on the allegations this case would qualify for the death penalty.

"It appears to be cold, calculated, planned," said Moore. "And targeted un-armed, defenseless people."


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U.S. Senator John Kennedy supports his fellow Louisiana lawmaker’s health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Kennedy says he plans to vote for U.S Senator Bill Cassidy’s measure but it can be better. He says for example, Cassidy’s legislation gives states the choice if they want to impose a work requirement.

“I don’t believe it should be optional. If you’re able bodied and you don’t have children, you have to work in order to get the free healthcare.”

Kennedy also advises adding a plan to prevent Medicaid fraud. He say currently, patients do not really know how much a procedure costs and he wants to change that.

“Change the way consumers receive information from their insurance company so they tell how much money the procedure that they got actually cost.”

Kennedy says another amendment he will propose would prevent states from taking block grant funding and establishing a single payer health insurance system. He says he’d rather have private insurance companies provide coverages that could help lower healthcare costs.

“I don’t think that government coming in and regulating doctors, nurses and hospitals like they were a utility is the answer. I’ve never seen that really work.”



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The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has received a grant to increase the number of child welfare workers. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says her staff has decreased by 600 employees over the last 10 years and this is an opportunity to address the high turnover rate.

“But our case load has not gone down, in fact it’s gone up. When you have fewer people trying to do that job with more children and families in need, then of course we’re not doing the very best.”

Nearly half of the child welfare workers who left DCFS in 2016, had less than three years of service. Walters says there is a direct correlation between the case load and the turnover rate.

“In Baton Rouge, they’re anywhere between 1.5 to double what they should be and our turnover is 50% in Baton Rouge.”

A study finds children with more case workers have less stability. Walters says with this grant, they will be able to find out what are the solutions to the increased rate of turnovers.

“The child needs a stable workers to work with them, to know them, to learn them, to understand their needs, to find the very best placement for them.”



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Pennington Biomedical Research Center has been awarded a $6.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study military nutrition and metabolism research.

Researcher Dr. Jennifer Rood says they will focus on how to ensure a healthy and fit military.

“How many calories a solider needs to eat, what type of diet do they need to eat, nutrition, inflammation and resiliency, so how they bounce back after they’ve been put into a stressful situation.”

Rood says Pennington has worked to improve the performance of the U.S. military for the last 29 years. She says the facility has the expertise to conduct research that’s not available within the Department of Defense.

“We’ll be doing some of the projects here at Pennington Biomedical in Baton Rouge and we’ll be recruiting volunteers from Baton Rouge and the other parts of the grant will be conducted in field studies across the United States.”

Pennington is the only entity that has received funding for this work and they are the number one provider of nutritional information for the Department of Defense. Rood says this research could change the eating habits of soldiers.

“It may allow us to better predict the dietary requirements of military units conducting unique and specialized missions all across the globe.”



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LSU has taken the final step in the medical marijuana contract process, which means patients with debilitating conditions could have the drug in their hands some time next year. LSU vice president for Agriculture Dr. Bill Richardson says the agreement with the cannabis company GB Sciences is done; and he predicts they’ll be moving quickly to begin cultivation.

"The are going to be responsible for the growing, extracting, processing and distribution of the medical cannabis," said Richardson.

Richardson says GB Sciences has a first-class production and research facility. He says he visited the operation in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and was extraordinarily impressed, especially with their commitment to medical.

"And that was the thing that we were most impressed by," said Richardson. "We're interested in research on the medical side, not the recreational side."

Richardson says he doesn’t know when the drug will be available in 2018, because they have to make sure everything is done right.

"We've been methodical with it the whole way, and we're not going to violate that now," said Richardson.


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Four sheriff’s offices in Louisiana have filed lawsuits against drug companies and physicians for allegedly helping to grow the opioid crisis. Attorney David Laborde says the defendants have misrepresented the proper use of opioids which has led to an epidemic and an uptick in crime.

"The local sheriff's in Louisiana have been tasked with dealing with petty crimes to dealing with overdoses and treating inmates as patients rather than as inmates."

Avoyelles, Lafayette, Jefferson Davis and Rapides have filed lawsuits in state courts in their respective parishes. Laborde says the sheriff’s offices are seeking to recoup the money law enforcement has spent on dealing with the opioid epidemic.

"Those monies will lead to some type of abatement programs, rehabilitation programs and education programs to state the effects of the opioid epidemic and hopefully curtail the opioid use and misuse."

Laborde says data from 2015 shows there were more opioid prescriptions than residents, which is a key argument in their lawsuit. He says opioids were originally intended to be used for just a short period in particular with those experiencing end of life pain.

"They expanded the market but marketing them for everyday use and for prolonged continuous use, which has led to an addition epidemic throughout the country."



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A Baton Rouge man considered a person of interest in the shooting deaths of two black men last week, has bonded out of jail. 23-year-old Kenneth Gleason was arrested over the weekend on drug charges. Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola says Gleason has yet to be cleared of the homicides.

“He still remains a person of interest between witness accounts. Similar circumstances of the shootings, along with ballistic analyzation helped us to link the two homicides together.”

The first murder took place last Tuesday night when 59-year-old Bruce Cofield was fatally shot and on Thursday, near LSU, 49-year-old Donald Smart was shot to death while walking to work. Coppola says Gleason was in a vehicle that matched the description from the two homicide investigations. He says they are still working to determine a motive.

“But we’re looking at racially motivated being a possible reason in this but we’re still looking into a possible motive.”

Coppola says Gleason was charged with possession of a schedule one, marijuana and a schedule three, human growth hormone. He says the circumstances surrounding both shootings are extremely similar.

“As far as witness accounts that investigators were able to obtain throughout the investigation, so that helped link these two together.”



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East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore says it will probably be a while before they’ll know if charges will be brought in the case of the LSU freshman who died in a possible hazing incident at his fraternity. Preliminary autopsy findings indicated that 18-year-old Max Gruver had high levels of alcohol in his system at the time of death. Moore says this investigation will be long.

"There's a large group of people that belong to this fraternity," said Moore. "We're talking 60 people."

The official cause of death from the coroner’s office may not be known for several weeks as they await toxicology results. Moore says some members of the fraternity were fully cooperative with LSU police.

"Severeal have asked for attorneys and therefore have not been interviewed, and there are probably 20 others that we have yet to speak with," said Moore.

Attorneys say whether or not felony charges would be brought likely depends on if there is evidence of hazing. Moore says he’s met with the Gruver family and they are devastated.

"It's a sad occassion to have to speak with parents that had to fly to come pick up their son," said Moore.


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By Jeff Palermo
For the fourth consecutive season, the Saints have started 0-2 as they dropped a 36-20 decision to the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady scorched the New Orleans defense for 447 yards and three touchdowns. On offense, the Saints converted just 33% of their third down opportunities.  

"We've got to get better and not just on defense. We gotta be better offensively, we're not turning the ball over but we are not creating any turnovers either, we didn't do enough good things today to give us a chance," Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said.
The Patriots jumped out to a 20-3 lead as Brady made it look easy. Payton says the lack of a pass rush allowed the Pats to put up 557 total yards of offense.
"You have to disrupt the passing game, either pressuring the quarterback or bumping the eligible receivers at the line of scrimmage, there was a handful of plays where he had too much time," Payton said.
The Saints have now lost 11 of their last 12 games in the month of September. They travel to Carolina this Sunday and Payton believes this team can turn things around. 
"You start off like this and there's disappointment. We've got the right type of locker room, but we are going to have respond quickly. We'll find out what we are made of."


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The median household income in Louisiana declined by over 2%  in 2016, the largest decrease in the nation according to Census Figures. Dr. LSU Economist Loren Scott says this decrease is a result of the struggling oil and gas industry. He says we have three metropolitan areas that are in a recession, Houma, Lafayette and Shreveport.

“That previous 20 months we lost almost 25,000 jobs. It was a tough period, especially if you worked in one of those oil patches.”

Scott says there are definitely signs of optimism for better numbers in 2017. He says the rate of decline in both Houma and Lafayette has significantly lessened.

“For example, over June and July we were averaging 20,000 jobs over the previous year. So it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel for the state.”

Louisiana looks to be improving as we gained 24,200 nonfarm jobs since August of last year. Scott says the job numbers have been up for May, June, and July.

“The good stuff that’s happening in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles is now more than enough to offset the rather small rate of decline that’s going on in the oil patch.”



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By Jeff Palermo
1999 was the last time LSU lost to Mississippi State in Starkville. The beat down the Tigers suffered to the Bulldogs on Saturday night will be remembered for that long and then some. State completely dominated LSU, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season with a 37-7 defeat.

Mississippi State whipped LSU at the line of the scrimmage, the Tigers kept committing bad penalties and the defense had its worst performance in the two years that Dave Aranda has been in Baton Rouge. Blown assignments, missed tackles and just a lack of discpline. 
State outgained LSU 465-270. Mississippi State Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was 15-23 for 180 yards and 2 TDs. Aeris Williams rushed for 146 yards and Keith Mixon caught 6 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. 
LSU's Danny Etling threw for just 137 yards, completing 13 of 29. Derrius Guice was held to 76 carries on 15 carries.
The Tigers were just 3-of-13 on 3rd down conversions and they committed nine penalties for 112 yards.
Two players from LSU were ejected for targeting, Donnie Alexander and Neil Farrell Jr.  They'll also miss 1st half of next Saturday's game against Syracuse.
LSU Darrel Williams had a 10-yard touchdown run with 9:44 left in the 2nd quarter to tie the game at 7. But Mississippi State scored on its next six possessions.
It's the worst defeat LSU has suffered in Starkville since 1954 when the Bulldogs blanked the Bayou Bengals 25-0.
"Tell the Truth Monday" will not be kind for the Tigers.  


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