KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-03

News For Friday 03/30/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 033012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

44 YEAR OLD DONALD PICKNEY WAS INDICTED YESTERDAY ON A SECOND-DEGREE MURDER CHARGE BY A RAPIDES PARISH GRAND JURY IN THE OCTOBER 2011 DEATH OF HIS WIFE, WHO AUTHORITIES BELIEVE WAS HELD CAPTIVE AND POSSIBLY TORTURED FOR ONE TO TWO DAYS BEFORE SHE DIED. RAPIDES PARISH PROSECUTOR ROCKY WILLSON SAID THAT IF PICKNEY IS CONVICTED ON THE MURDER CHARGE, HE FACES LIFE IN PRISON.

AN ALEXANDRIA MAN IN BEHIND BARS ACCUSED OF ATTEMPTING TO KIDNAP A CHILD FROM A DR’S OFFICE YESTERDAY. THE APD REPORTS 29 YEAR OLD ORLANDO JONES POSED AS A DR AND ATTEMPTED TO REMOVE THE 2 MONTH OLD FROM THE FACILITY. SECURITY PERSONNEL WERE NOTIFIED BY THE CHILD'S MOTHER, WHO DID NOT KNOW JONES, AND JONES WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY BY HOSPITAL STAFF BEFORE AUTHORITIES ARRIVED. THE RATHER STRANGE CASE IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

LOUISIANA RANKS WORST IN THE USA FOR PUBLIC CORRUPTION. THAT'S ACCORDING TO A NATIONAL MAGAZINE REPORT THAT USED DATA FROM THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. THE STATE RANKED HIGHEST WITH 8 AND A HALF CONVICTIONS PER 100-THOUSAND PERSONS, AND 10 & A HALF PER 10-THOUSAND GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AT LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS. SOME SAYS THE HIGH CONVICTION RATES ARE BECAUSE OF CONCERTED EFFORTS TO WEED OUT CORRUPT OFFICIALS.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS APPROVED THE TWO MAJOR PIECES OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION AGENDA. ONE ESTABLISHES A STATEWIDE PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM AND PAVES THE WAY FOR EASIER CREATION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS.
ANOTHER OVERHAULS THE ROLE OF SCHOOL BOARDS, SUPERINTENDENTS AND PRINCIPALS IN THE HIRING AND FIRING OF TEACHERS. IT ALSO TOUGHENS THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHERS TO EARN TENURE AND ELIMINATES SENIORITY PROTECTIONS FOR TEACHERS WHEN LAYOFFS ARE MADE. BOTH BILLS HAVE PASSED THE HOUSE. THE VOUCHER BILL FACES REVIEW IN A SENATE COMMITTEE ON MONDAY THEN BOTH WILL BE READY FOR FULL SENATE DEBATE.

AN ANNUAL PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY BY LSU INDICATES MORE LOUISIANANS FEEL THE STATE IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN TERMS OF PUBLIC POLICY. DR. KIRBY GOIDEL DIRECTED THE "LOUISIANA SURVEY". HE SAYS 47% OF THOSE SURVEYED APPROVE OF THE DIRECTION GOVERNMENT IS TAKING WITH EDUCATION, THE ECONOMY AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. THE ANNUAL CITIZEN SURVEY QUERIED 731 RANDOM PERSONS, AND WAS CONDUCTED BETWEEN FEBRUARY 7TH AND 29TH. GOIDEL SAYS THE RESULTS SHOW CONCERNS ABOUT THE ECONOMY SEEM TO BE DECLINING...:

CONGRESS HAS PASSED A STOPGAP THREE-MONTH TRANSPORTATION BILL THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE A PROVISION TO SEND 80 PERCENT OF CLEAN WATER ACT FINES FROM THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL TO GULF STATES. THE BILL WAS PASSED THURSDAY AFTER HEATED PARTISAN DEBATE. A SENATE VERSION OF THE BILL INCLUDED LANGUAGE TO SET ASIDE FINE MONEY FOR GULF STATES. BUT THAT PROVISION WAS STRIPPED IN THE RUSH TO GET A STOPGAP MEASURE PASSED BEFORE THE HOUSE GOES INTO RECESS. U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, A LOUISIANA DEMOCRAT, BLAMED HOUSE REPUBLICANS FOR THIS NEW DELAY IN GETTING THE FINES SET ASIDE FOR THE GULF. BP PLC IS EXPECTED TO PAY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FINES FOR THE SPILL AND LOUISIANA IS BANKING ON THAT MONEY TO MOVE COASTAL RESTORATION PLANS FORWARD.

A FEDERAL JUDGE RULED THURSDAY A LOUISIANA LAW VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WHO WERE REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS SEX OFFENDERS AFTER THEY WERE CONVICTED OF SOLICITING ORAL OR ANAL SEX FOR MONEY. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE MARTIN FELDMAN SAID STATE LAWMAKERS HAD NO "RATIONAL BASIS" FOR REQUIRING PEOPLE TO REGISTER AS SEX OFFENDERS IF THEY WERE CONVICTED OF A "CRIME AGAINST NATURE BY SOLICITATION." FELDMAN SIDED WITH NINE ANONYMOUS PLAINTIFFS WHO SUED LAST YEAR, SAYING THEY WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO REGISTER AS SEX OFFENDERS IF INSTEAD THEY HAD BEEN CONVICTED OF SOLICITING SEX FOR MONEY UNDER THE STATE PROSTITUTION LAW. CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEYS WHO FILED THE SUIT AGAINST LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES "BUDDY" CALDWELL AND OTHER STATE OFFICIALS CLAIM THE LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND DISCRIMINATORY, UNFAIRLY CONDEMNING SEX ACTS TRADITIONALLY ASSOCIATED WITH HOMOSEXUALITY.

A FEDERAL JUDGE SAYS LOUISIANA CANNOT ENFORCE A 1997 LAW THAT ALLOWED LAWSUITS AGAINST ABORTION DOCTORS EVEN WITHOUT ALLEGATIONS OF NEGLIGENCE OR POOR CARE. THE LAW ALSO KEPT DOCTORS WHO PERFORM ABORTIONS OUT OF A STATE-RUN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE REVIEW PROCESS AND A FUND TO PAY MALPRACTICE JUDGMENTS.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GINGER BERRIGAN RULED MARCH 1 THAT THE LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY VAGUE AND, BY DRIVING RESPONSIBLE ABORTION PROVIDERS OUT OF BUSINESS, WOULD IMPOSE AN UNDUE BURDEN ON ANY WOMAN WHO WANTED AN ABORTION. HER ORDER THURSDAY FORMALLY BLOCKS ITS ENFORCEMENT.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO REVAMP PENSIONS FOR THOUSANDS OF RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS IS STALLED IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE AS LAWMAKERS HAGGLE BEHIND THE SCENES OVER THE CONTENTIOUS PROPOSALS. THE PLAN WOULD INCREASE HOW MUCH WORKERS CONTRIBUTE TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT AND PUSHES BACK THEIR RETIREMENT AGE, AMONG OTHER CHANGES. NEITHER THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE NOR THE ONE IN THE SENATE HAS SCHEDULED THE MEASURES FOR HEARING YET. HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY SAID THURSDAY THAT THE BILLS WON'T COME UP FOR DEBATE UNTIL SOMETIME AFTER THE EASTER HOLIDAY. KLECKLEY SAID THE DELAY ON THE RETIREMENT BILLS DOESN'T INDICATE THE PROPOSALS ARE DEAD FOR THE SESSION.

PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS BEEN URGING CONGRESS TO END TAX BREAKS FOR OIL COMPANIES, GIVEN THEIR RECORD-BREAKING PROFITS. LOUISIANA OIL & GAS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT DON BRIGGS SAYS ENDING TAX BREAKS, THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERY OTHER COMPANY IN THE U.S., WILL HAVE THE SHORT TERM EFFECT OF DRIVING UP GAS PRICES AND WILL LIKELY KILL JOBS IN THE OIL INDUSTRY. HE SAYS ENDING THE TAX BREAKS WILL ALSO CUT INTO LONG TERM DOMESTIC OIL PRODUCTION. THE SENATE APPARENTLY AGREED AND YESTERDAY DEFIED THE PRESIDENT'S WISHES, VOTING TO NOT END THE TAX BREAKS.

ENERGY DRINKS ARE ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING BEVERAGES BEING SOLD IN THE COUNTRY, AND THEY ALSO MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS. DR. FRANK SMART IS CHIEF OF CARDIOLOGY AT THE LSU HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS. HE SAYS IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE PERSON, BUT AN ENERGY DRINK CAN BE FATAL TO SOME. SMART SAYS THE AMOUNT OF CAFFEINE IN ENERGY DRINKS CAN RAISE BLOOD PRESSURE AND THEY ALMOST ALWAYS RAISES HEART RATE. HE SAYS THIS ARTIFICIAL, STIMULATING QUICK RUSH CAN CAUSE ARRHYTHMIAS AND EVEN SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH IN CERTAIN PEOPLE. SMART SAYS ENERGY DRINKS CAN CAUSE LACK OF SLEEP, RESTLESSNESS AND CAN ALSO HAVE ADVERSE AFFECTS WHEN COMBINED WITH CERTAIN MEDICATIONS. HE FEELS ENERGY DRINKS SHOULD HAVE LABELS WARNING CONSUMERS OF THE POSSIBLE SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARDS.







News For Thursday 03/29/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 032912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

SOME MEMBERS OF THE REGION VI MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL SAY THEY ARE CONCERNED THAT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ASKED FOR INPUT ABOUT MENTAL-HEALTH CARE SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TOOK OFFICE IN JANUARY 2008. THAT DESPITE THE FACT THE GOVERNOR AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS HAVE MADE CHANGES AND ARE PLANNING MORE AT CENTRAL STATE HOSPITAL IN PINEVILLE. THE COUNCIL WAS FORMED BY THE STATE DECADES AGO TO WEIGH IN ON MENTAL-HEALTH CARE ON BEHALF OF PATIENTS, BUT THEY FEAR THEY ARE NOW BEING KEPT OUT OF THE LOOP.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE REJECTED A PROPOSAL TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY AWARDED TO A COLLEGE STUDENT RECEIVING A TOPS SCHOLARSHIP. HOUMA REPRESENTATIVE JOE HARRISON PROPOSED CAPPING THE SCHOLARSHIP AT 16-HUNDRED DOLLARS A YEAR, INSTEAD OF PAYING A STUDENT'S ENTIRE TUITION. LSU STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT CODY WELLS TESTIFIED AGAINST THE MEASURE. WELLS SAYS A CUT TO THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM COULD PREVENT SOME HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES FROM ATTENDING A FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGREED WITH WELLS DEFEATED THE BILL ON A 12 TO 4 VOTE.

IT'S A SENATE COMMITTEE'S TURN TO DEAL WITH TWO HOUSE-PASSED EDUCATION BILLS. ONE CREATES A STATEWIDE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM; ANOTHER MAKES BROAD CHANGES TO JOB PROTECTIONS FOR LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. PASSED BY THE HOUSE AFTER CLOSE TO 16 HOURS OF DEBATE, THE BILLS ARE BEING PUSHED HARD — AND FAST — BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION. THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, WHICH WAS SET TO HEAR THE BILLS TODAY, IS ALREADY ON RECORD IN SUPPORT OF THE MEASURES, HAVING APPROVED SIMILAR VERSIONS LAST WEEK.
SINCE THEN, THE HOUSE HAS MADE A FEW CHANGES. THOSE INCLUDE A PROVISION REQUIRING THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO COME UP WITH MORE ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAT ACCEPT STUDENTS THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED VOUCHER PROGRAM.

THEY CAUGHT THAT INMATE WHO WALKED AWAY FROM A WORK DETAIL IN MARKSVILLE ON MONDAY. U.S. MARSHALS ARRESTED SHAWN JOLIVETTE YESTERDAY IN PENSACOLA, FLORIDA. DEPUTIES ARRESTED 21-YEAR-OLD LAKEVIA GARDNER IN LAPLACE AND HELD HER WITHOUT BOND IN AVOYELLES PARISH ON A CHARGE OF PRINCIPAL TO SIMPLE ESCAPE.
SHERIFF DOUG ANDERSON SAYS JOLIVETTE LEFT A CITY GRASS-CUTTING CREW NEAR AVOYELLES HOSPITAL IN MARKSVILLE ON MONDAY. INVESTIGATORS ALLEGE THAT GARDNER PICKED HIM UP THERE AND HELPED HIM GET AWAY.

THE HURRICANE FORECASTING TEAM AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY SAYS CLIMATE DATA SUGGESTS WE MAY SEE FEWER HURRICANES THIS YEAR. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE SCIENTISTS AT CSU BASE THAT ON CONDITIONS IN THE ATLANTIC, WHICH THEY SAY ARE LESS FAVORABLE FOR STORM DEVELOPMENT. THE COLORADO STATE TEAM WILL RELEASE ANOTHER FORECAST NEXT WEEK, IN WHICH THEY'LL VENTURE A GUESS AT HOW MANY NAMED STORMS WE MAY SEE.

PERSONAL INCOMES ARE UP IN LOUISIANA. A FEDERAL REPORTS SHOWS A 4.8% INCREASE IN INCOMES OVERALL DURING 2011. ON A PER-PERSON BASIS, THAT RANKS LOUISIANA 3RD AMONG THE 12 STATES THAT MAKE UP THE SOUTHEASTERN REGION OF THE U.S.

THE MULTI-STATE MEGA-MILLIONS JACKPOT IS NOW AT $500-MILLION FOR FRIDAY NIGHT'S DRAWING. AT A HALF-BILLION BUCKS, THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOTTERY JACKPOT EVER IN
NORTH AMERICA.

NO WINNERS OF THE POWERBALL LAST NIGHT.. THAT PRIZE GOES TO AN ESTIMATED $60 MILLION FOR SATURDAY NIGHT’S DRAWING.

A BILL THAT WOULD INCREASE THE PENALTIES FOR STEALING COPPER PASSED EASILY IN THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE TODAY. UNDER THE LEGISLATION JUDGES CAN FINE METAL THIEVES FOR BOTH THE COSTS OF REPLACING WHAT WAS STOLEN AND DAMAGES COMMITTED WHILE STEALING THE METAL.


VOTERS IN EACH PARISH WOULD DECIDE WHETHER THEY WANT TO ENACT TERM LIMITS ON THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS UNDER A PROPOSAL HEADED TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE WITH A 5-3 COMMITTEE VOTE WEDNESDAY. THE MEASURE WOULD CALL FOR THE LOCAL OPTION VOTES ON THE NOV. 6 BALLOT. IF APPROVED IN A PARISH, LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS THERE WOULD BE LIMITED TO THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS, LIKE STATE LAWMAKERS. SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING SEVERAL BUSINESS GROUPS, SAID TERM LIMITS WOULD ALLOW FOR FRESH IDEAS AND NEW PEOPLE ON THE BOARDS THAT DETERMINE EDUCATION POLICY FOR THOUSANDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS. CURRENTLY, TWO PARISHES IN LOUISIANA, JEFFERSON AND LAFAYETTE PARISHES, HAVE TERM LIMITS.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE WILL CONSIDER A PROPOSAL TO OPEN UP COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LABOR UNIONS TO THE PUBLIC. THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE VOTED 8-2 WEDNESDAY FOR THE MEASURE BY REPUBLICAN REP. TONY LIGI. LIGI SAYS HE PROPOSED THE IDEA AFTER THE JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD NEGOTIATED A CONTRACT WITH ITS TEACHERS THAT NO ONE WAS ALLOWED TO SEE BEFORE IT WAS APPROVED. HE SAYS TAXPAYERS SHOULD HAVE "A RIGHT TO BE AT THE TABLE."

THE SENATE AGREED TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CREDIT HOURS IT WOULD TAKE MOST LOUISIANA PUBLIC COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GET A DEGREE FROM A FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY. SUPPORTERS SAID THE BILL WOULD MAKE IT MORE LIKELY FOR STUDENTS TO GET OUT OF COLLEGE IN FOUR YEARS. THE PROPOSAL, HEADED TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE, WOULD CAP THE REQUIREMENT AT 120 HOURS OF CREDIT. IT INCLUDES AN EXCEPTION FOR THOSE DEGREES THAT REQUIRE MORE COURSE HOURS UNDER CERTIFICATION RULES, LIKE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAYS SHE AND OTHER LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATES ARE PUSHING THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO EXPEDITE NEW VA CLINICS IN SOUTHERN LOUISIANA. LANDRIEU SAYS NEW VA CLINICS IN LAFAYETTE AND LAKE CHARLES WERE SUPPOSED TO BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION BY NOW...BUT THAT'S BEEN DELAYED BY A VA CLERICAL ERROR IN THE BIDDING PROCESS. CURRENTLY THERE IS ONLY ONE VA CLINIC IN ALL OF SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA, THAT BEING IN JENNINGS.

THE SALE OF DOGS, CATS AND OTHER KINDS OF HOUSEHOLD PETS WOULD BE BARRED FROM ROADSIDES, FLEA MARKETS AND PARKS IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED THE BACKING OF THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE IN A 9-3 VOTE. SEVERAL MUNICIPALITIES AROUND THE STATE HAVE ENACTED SIMILAR LOCAL ORDINANCES. VIOLATION WOULD CARRY UP TO A $250 FINE THE FIRST TIME, THEN UP TO $1,000 FOR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSES. THE MEASURE HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AGREED WITHOUT OBJECTION TO CONTINUE LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHICH SHIELDS FROM PUBLIC VIEW RECORDS INVOLVED IN ACTIVE NEGOTIATIONS TO ATTRACT OR KEEP COMPANIES TO THE STATE. THE BILL WOULD CONTINUE THE EXEMPTION UNTIL 2016. IT IS SET TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. THE PROPOSAL GOES NEXT TO THE HOUSE.

A NEW ORLEANS CONGRESSMAN OBJECTED WEDNESDAY TO A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO REDIRECT FEDERAL HURRICANE RECOVERY MONEY FROM HOUSING AID PROGRAMS TO SUPERDOME UPGRADES. U.S. REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND SENT A LETTER TO FEDERAL HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY SHAUN DONOVAN AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ASKING FOR THE MONEY SHIFT TO BE SCRAPPED, SAYING THE PLAN IS ILL-ADVISED BECAUSE PEOPLE STILL ARE STRUGGLING TO REBUILD MORE THAN SIX YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS PROPOSED MOVING $6.6 MILLION FROM SEVERAL RECOVERY PROGRAMS, INCLUDING FISHERIES ASSISTANCE, SMALL BUSINESS LOANS AND HOUSING AID, TO ANOTHER PROGRAM THAT WOULD HELP PAY FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SUPERDOME.

IT HAS BEEN A PRETTY WARM SPRING SO FAR IN LOUISIANA, WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION, "HOW HOT MIGHT THE SUMMER BE?" STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THERE REALLY IS NO METEOROLOGICAL CORRELATION BETWEEN THE TWO. KEIM SAYS A WARM SPRING IS NO INDICATOR OF A WARM SUMMER TO COME. THAT BEING SAID, KEIM ADMITS FEDERAL WEATHER OFFICIALS EXPECT ANOTHER SCORCHER. KEIM SAYS THERE WAS PRACTICALLY NO WINTER TO SPEAK OF IN LOUISIANA THIS YEAR BECAUSE ANY COOL AIR WE GOT WAS COMING IN FROM THE PACIFIC, INSTEAD OF FROM CANADA, AND THAT'S WHY OUR WINTER & SPRING HAVE BEEN SO WARM.

FOUR LOUISIANA CITIES ARE GETTING A TOTAL OF $575,000 TO HELP HOUSE HOMELESS VETERANS. U.S. SENATOR MARY L. LANDRIEU AND REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND SAID THE MONEY IS GOING TO HOUSING AUTHORITIES IN EAST BATON ROUGE, NEW ORLEANS AND LAFAYETTE, AND TO BOSSIER PARISH. IT'S UNDER A DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC HOUSING AGENCIES THAT AGREE TO PARTNER WITH ELIGIBLE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL FACILITIES.










News For Wednesday 03/28/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 032812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

WELL, WE KNEW THEY PROTESTED TOO LOUDLY FOR THE STORY NOT TO BE TRUE. SEAN PAYTON SPEAKING PUBLICLY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE SAINTS WERE SANCTIONED FOR TARGETING SPECIFIC OPPONENTS, PAYTON SAID TUESDAY HE WILL SOON DECIDE WHETHER TO APPEAL HIS SUSPENSION, SOMETHING COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL SAID HE WOULD ALLOW. PAYTON ALSO SAID HE WAS MEETING WITH BILL PARCELLS, WHO LIVES NEAR PALM BEACH, SITE OF THE NFL MEETINGS, TO DISCUSS THE PLAN FOR THE SEASON. IT’S BELIEVED THAT PLAN WOULD HAVE PARCELLS RUNNING THE TEAM WHILE COACH PAYTON SERVES OUT HIS PENALTY.

A DEFENSE ATTORNEY IN THE CASE OF TWO MEN ACCUSED OF BEATING AN ALEXANDRIA MAN TO DEATH IN LAFAYETTE IS ACCUSING POLICE OF COERCING, INTIMIDATING AND MANIPULATING BOTH SUSPECTS AND SEVERAL KEY WITNESSES INTO MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS. IAN TRAHAN AND WAYLAND GUILLORY ARE ACCUSED OF KILLING 20 YEAR OLD UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE STUDENT KENNETH DONNELLY JR. OF ALEXANDRIA AND ATTACKING DONNELLY'S ROOMMATE, RUFUS FELLS OF ALEXANDRIA, INSIDE THEIR MCKINLEY STREET HOME IN LAFAYETTE IN OCTOBER 2010. DONNELLY WAS A 2008 GRADUATE OF MENARD HIGH SCHOOL IN ALEXANDRIA. BOTH SUSPECTS IN THE CASE HAVE PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AND ONE COUNT OF ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. THEY ARE SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN A LAFAYETTE COURT ON APRIL 26.

23 YEAR OLD COURTNEY JOHNSON OF ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN ARRESTED AFTER SHE WAS CAUGHTT IN THE ACT OF SHOPLIFTING FROM A LOCAL BUSINESS. POLICE SAY JOHNSON WAS USING THREE CHILDREN, AGES 5, 8 & 13 TO ROB THE ITEMS AND DEPOSIT THEM IN HER HANDBAG.

THEY ARE LUCKY TO BE ALIVE, TWO ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICERS WERE INJURED MONDAY AFTERNOON WHILE WORKING A TRAFFIC STOP ON I-49. POLICE SAY AN ONCOMING VEHICLE STRUCK THE POLICE CRUISER ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. ONE OFFICER WAS INSIDE THE VEHICLE THE OTHER OUTSIDE OF THE VEHICLE THAT HAD JUST BEEN PULLED OVER. THE DRIVER, A TEXAS MAN, WAS CITED FOR FAILURE TO MAINTAIN CONTROL. BOTH OFFICERS WERE TREATED AND RELEASED FROM A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

A GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG GROUP SAYS LOUISIANA ETHICS LAW NEEDS TO BE MORE RESTRICTIVE WHEN IT COMES TO PERSONAL USE BY CANDIDATES OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE FUNDS. THAT'S ONE OF 14 RECOMMENDATIONS IN A REPORT RELEASED TUESDAY BY THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL OF LOUISIANA. PAR'S 39-PAGE REPORT INCLUDES A BRIEF HISTORY OF ETHICS ENFORCEMENT SINCE GOV. BOBBY JINDAL PUSHED AN ETHICS LAW REVAMP THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE IN 2008. IT CALLS FOR NUMEROUS CLARIFICATIONS OF THE ROLE NOW PLAYED BY THE STATE BOARD OF ETHICS — WHICH INVESTIGATES ETHICS COMPLAINTS AND BRINGS CHARGES — AND THE TEAMS OF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGES NOW TASKED UNDER THE 2008 LAW WITH RULING ON WHETHER VIOLATIONS HAVE ACTUALLY OCCURRED. THE BOARD OF ETHICS HAD BOTH ROLES UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM.

LEADERS OF LSU'S PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM SAID TUESDAY THAT GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET SIGNIFICANTLY OVERESTIMATES REVENUE FOR ITS HOSPITALS AND CLINIC NETWORK NEXT YEAR AND THAT THE SYSTEM WOULD HAVE TO IMPOSE MAJOR CUTS TO CLOSE A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FUNDING GAP. UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OFFICIALS TOLD THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE THAT THE 10 HOSPITALS AND THEIR OUTPATIENT FACILITIES THAT SERVE THE POOR AND UNINSURED FACE AN ESTIMATED $43 MILLION IN CUTS IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE BACKED A PROPOSAL TUESDAY TO GIVE A DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR STATE TAX REBATE TO PEOPLE WHO DONATE MONEY TO NONPROFITS THAT GIVE SCHOLARSHIPS TO HELP STUDENTS ATTEND PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS.
THE PROPOSAL BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, R-RIVER RIDGE, IS PART OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION OVERHAUL PACKAGE. TALBOT SAID THE BILL GOES HAND-IN-HAND WITH ANOTHER JINDAL PROPOSAL TO CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT WOULD USE STATE TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. SUPPORTERS SAY THE TAX REBATE WOULD GIVE CHILDREN IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET AN IMPROVED EDUCATION. TALBOT SAYS IT'S ABOUT GIVING A PARENT A CHOICE. THE MEASURE HEADED TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE WITH A 66-37 HOUSE VOTE.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD GIVE LOUISIANA'S SHERIFFS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A PAY RAISE NEXT YEAR RECEIVED SENATE APPROVAL TUESDAY IN A 36-1 VOTE. THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 97) BY SEN. J.P. MORRELL, D-NEW ORLEANS, WOULD CREATE AN "EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE" FOR SHERIFFS, TO TEACH THEM MANAGEMENT SKILLS AND REQUIRE ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP TRAINING. THE MANDATORY TRAINING REQUIREMENT WOULD BEGIN JAN. 1. WHEN A SHERIFF HAS COMPLETED THE TRAINING REQUIREMENT, HE OR SHE WOULD BE ABLE TO GET A PAY RAISE. BUT, THERE’S A CATCH, LAWMAKERS WILL HAVE APPROVED A SALARY BOOST FOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGES, WHO GET THE SAME PAY AS SHERIFFS. THE LAST TIME SHERIFF’S HAD A PAY RAISE WAS TWO YEARS AGO.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE'S CHIEF ECONOMIST, GREG ALBRECHT, DIFFERED TUESDAY OVER WHETHER A PACKAGE OF BUSINESS TAX BREAKS SOUGHT BY THE GOVERNOR WOULD DRAIN DOLLARS FROM STATE COFFERS. THE PROPOSALS, HEADING TO THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE FOR DEBATE, WOULD LET THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFER INCREASED TAX BREAKS FOR PAYROLL, RELOCATION COSTS AND CORPORATE INCOME AND FRANCHISE TAXES FOR CERTAIN BUSINESSES THAT THE DEPARTMENT WANTS TO ATTRACT OR HAVE EXPAND IN LOUISIANA.

THE FISCAL REVIEW COMMITTEE HAS DECIDED THE STATE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM'S FINANCES, BUT IT WILL NOT APPOINT A STATE FISCAL ADVISER TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. THE COMMITTEE WAS SATISFIED WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD'S RECENTLY PASSED PLAN TO REDUCE SPENDING BY INCREASING EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS, ELIMINATING POSITIONS AND EMPLOYEES, SLASHING SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS AND ENDING THE SCHOOL YEAR THREE DAYS EARLY, AMONG OTHER THINGS. THE BOARD HAS BEEN DRAINING ALL OF IS ACCOUNTS TO GET BY EVERY MONTH AND DECLARED A STATE OF FINANCIAL EMERGENCY, LAST YEAR. IT DECLARED A NEED FOR LAYOFFS THIS MONTH.

A BID TO TOUGHEN LOUISIANA LAW THAT REQUIRES PEOPLE TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE ADVANCED TUESDAY IN THE LEGISLATURE, IN RESPONSE TO THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF BOYS INVOLVING A FORMER PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH. THE PROPOSAL BY SEN. J.P. MORRELL OF NEW ORLEANS WOULD CRIMINALIZE THE FAILURE TO REPORT SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD. ANY ADULT WHO SEES ABUSE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO REPORT IT OR FACE A FELONY CHARGE CARRYING A PRISON SENTENCE OF UP TO FIVE YEARS. THE MEASURE ALSO WOULD EXPAND WHO MUST REPORT ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT, WHETHER THEY SEE IT OR NOT, AND WOULD CHANGE THE MISDEMEANOR CRIME OF FAILURE TO REPORT THE ABUSE OR NEGLECT TO A FELONY CARRYING A SENTENCE OF UP TO THREE YEARS IN JAIL.

AN ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP YESTERDAY ASKED THE USDA TO INVESTIGATE THE DEATHS OF 11 PRIMATES AT THE NEW IBERIA RESEARCH CENTER. THE GROUP, STOP ANIMAL EXPLOITATION NOW, SAY A REPORT, FILED WITH THE FEDS AND OBTAINED THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, INDICATED THE ANIMALS DIED OF TRAUMA. THE ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP SAY THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS MOST LIKELY NEGLECT. THE PRIMATES RANGED IN AGE FROM A FEW DAYS OLD TO 13 YEARS OLD.

BATON ROUGE BASED RAISING CANE'S CHICKEN FINGERS HAS BEEN NAMED ONE OF THE TOP 10 FASTEST GROWING RESTAURANTS IN THE COUNTRY. FOUNDER TODD GRAVES SAYS LATEST INDUSTRY STATISTICS SHOW CANE'S RANKED 8TH AMONG RESTAURANT CHAINS, WITH SALES OF OVER 200-MILLION DOLLARS IN 2011. GRAVES SAYS HE WAS SURPRISED WHEN THE RANKING CAME OUT. GRAVES SAYS THERE ARE OVER 120 CANE'S LOCATIONS IN 16 STATES, AND OVER 60 OF THOSE ARE IN LOUISIANA.

A NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER RESIGNED TUESDAY, ONE DAY AFTER BEING SUSPENDED FOR POSTING A COMMENT ON A LOCAL TELEVISION STATION'S WEBSITE ABOUT THE FATAL SHOOTING OF TRAYVON MARTIN IN WHICH HE SUGGESTED THE FLORIDA TEEN DIED LIKE A "THUG." THE OFFICER USED HIS FULL NAME AND IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS A NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE WHEN HE WROTE, "ACT LIKE A THUG DIE LIKE ONE!" THE POST WAS IN RESPONSE TO A WWL-TV ARTICLE ABOUT A RALLY SUPPORTING MARTIN, WHO WAS FATALLY SHOT LAST MONTH BY A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH VOLUNTEER.

A MAN WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO LEADING A VIOLENT, DRUG-DEALING NEW ORLEANS GANG AND PARTICIPATING IN A 2005 MURDER IS FACING LIFE IN PRISON. MICHAEL ANDERSON IS SCHEDULED TO BE SENTENCED WEDNESDAY BY A FEDERAL JUDGE. HIS PLEA DEAL CALLS FOR A LIFE SENTENCE. ANDERSON PLEADED GUILTY IN MARCH 2011 TO DRUG, MURDER AND RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY CHARGES. HE WILL BE THE LAST OF EIGHT DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN THE CASE TO BE SENTENCED. ANDERSON ALSO PLEADED NO CONTEST LAST YEAR TO STATE MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES FOR A CASE IN WHICH HE WAS ACCUSED OF GUNNING DOWN FIVE TEENAGERS IN NEW ORLEANS



SPORTS..

15TH RANKED LSU AND U-L LAFAYETTE RESUME THEIR COLLEGE BASEBALL RIVALRY TONIGHT WHEN THE TWO TEAMS MEET AT ALEX BOX STADIUM. THE TIGERS LEAD THE ALL-TIME SERIES 45-23, BUT THE CAJUNS BEAT LSU 11 TO 5 LAST YEAR. ULL COACH TONY ROBICHAUX SAYS PLAYING AT LSU GIVES HIS SQUAD A CHANCE TO FEEL WHAT IT'S LIKE PLAYING IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT.


News For Tuesday 03/27/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 032712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

SEAN PAYTON IS STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HIS NEXT MOVE, AND HAS REACHED OUT TO FORMER NFL COACH BILL PARCELLS FOR ADVICE. THE SAINTS COACH HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR A YEAR BY THE NFL FOR HIS ROLE IN NEW ORLEANS' BOUNTY PROGRAM, EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY. PARCELLS SAID ON MONDAY HE HAS SPOKEN TO PAYTON ABOUT HOW TO HANDLE THE SEASON, BUT NOTHING MORE. ASKED IF ANYONE IN THE SAINTS ORGANIZATION HAD TALKED TO HIM ABOUT COACHING THE TEAM IN 2012, HE SAID, "NO." THE COACH WHO LED THE NEW YORK GIANTS TO TWO SUPER BOWL VICTORIES WAS IN FLORIDA FOR SPRING TRAINING AND SPOKE BEFORE THE METS' GAME AGAINST THE CARDINALS.

SEAN PAYTON'S SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION FOR NEW ORLEANS' BOUNTY SYSTEM BEGINS AT THE END OF THE WEEK. MAYBE. NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL SAID MONDAY AN APPEAL BY PAYTON COULD LEAVE HIM IN CHARGE OF THE SAINTS — AT LEAST TEMPORARILY.

AN AVOYELLES PARISH INMATE IS ON THE LAMB, AFTER HE WALKED AWAY FROM A PRISON WORK DETAIL YESTERDAY MORNING. SHERIFF DOUG ANDERSON SAYS SHAWN JOLIVETTE, OF LAFAYETTE, IS 5 FEET 8 INCHES TALL, WEIGHS 161 POUNDS AND HAS SHORT BLACK HAIR. INVESTIGATORS FOUND HIS PRISON UNIFORM AND BOOTS ABOUT THREE MILES FROM THE SITE, LEADING OFFICIALS TO BELIEVE HE WAS PICKED UP IN A VEHICLE NEAR THE SITE.
JOLIVETTE WAS SERVING A THREE-YEAR SENTENCE ON A PROBATION AND PAROLE VIOLATION FOR POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY A CONVICTED FELON.

A PACKAGE OF BUSINESS TAX BREAKS SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION STARTED MOVING THROUGH THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE ON MONDAY. THE PROPOSALS, APPROVED WITHOUT OBJECTION BY THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, WERE PITCHED AS A WAY TO ATTRACT NEW INDUSTRY AND CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS TO LOUISIANA. UNDER ONE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 548), THE STATE WOULD INCREASE THE PAYROLL REBATE OFFERED TO CERTAIN COMPANIES WHO CREATE HIGH-PAYING JOBS WITH HEALTH CARE BENEFITS, FROM 6 PERCENT TO UP TO 15 PERCENT. A SECOND BILL (SENATE BILL 567) WOULD GIVE A 25 PERCENT REBATE OVER FIVE YEARS ON RELOCATION COSTS FOR COMPANIES THAT MOVE THEIR CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS TO LOUISIANA.

THE HOUSE AGREED MONDAY TO CREATE NEW SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATES IN LOUISIANA. HEADED TO THE SENATE ARE MEASURES (HOUSE BILLS 814 AND 124) THAT WOULD ESTABLISH A "PROTECT OUR FOREST" PLATE TO AID WILDFIRE FIGHTING EFFORTS AND A "KOREAN DEFENSE SERVICE" PLATE TO HONOR CERTAIN KOREAN WAR VETERANS.

COPPER THEFT, IT’S MAJOR PROBLEM ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WHERE THIEVES DESTROY A/C AND PLUMBING SYSTEMS TO GET THE COPPER SCRAP. STATE REP. LANCE HARRIS IS TARGETING THOSE THIEVES WITH A BILL THAT WOULD SHARPEN THE PENALTIES FOR THE CRIME. HARRIS' BILL WOULD ALLOW JUDGES TO DETERMINE SENTENCES BASED ON THE COST OF REPLACEMENT OF DAMAGED EQUIPMENT AND REPAIRS TO ANY PROPERTY DAMAGED IN THE THEFT ON TOP OF THE VALUE OF THE METAL TAKEN. THE BILL HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE.

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL HAS AUTHORIZED THE EMERGENCY SPENDING OF $750,000 TO REPLACE ONE OF THE CITY'S AGING POWER TRANSFORMERS. THE COUNCIL AUTHORIZED THE ORDINANCE DURING A SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY AFTERNOON. CITY UTILITIES DIRECTOR MIKE MARCOTTE SAID THE PRESCOTT NO. 1 POWER TRANSFORMER IS ALMOST 50 YEARS OLD AND "ABOUT TO FAIL." TESTS SEVERAL WEEKS AGO SHOWED THAT THE TRANSFORMER COULD NOT CONTINUE OPERATING AND NEEDED TO BE REPLACED.

STATE POLICE REPORT A TEENAGER FROM OLLA WAS KILLED IN A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH YESTERDAY MORNING. TROOPERS SAY 16 YEAR OLD MADISON SHELTON LOST CONTROL OF HER VEHICLE CAUSING IT LEAVE HIGHWAY 127. THE VEHICLE OVERTURNED SEVERAL TIMES. SHELTON WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE. SHE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL IS AMONG 26 STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN WASHINGTON D.C., TODAY TO CHALLENGE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE REFORM ACT. THE U.S SUPREME COURT HAS SET ASIDE THREE DAYS TO HEAR ARGUMENTS. THE HEALTH CARE LAW IS SET TO GO INTO FULL EFFECT IN 2014. A RULING FROM THE SUPREME COURT IS EXPECTED BY JUNE.

A THREE-JUDGE APPELLATE PANEL HAS UPHELD FORMER NEW ORLEANS CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM JEFFERSON'S 2009 CONVICTION ON MULTIPLE CORRUPTION CHARGES. JEFFERSON IS SERVING 13 YEARS FOR TAKING BRIBES AND PEDDLING HIS INFLUENCE AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS.

LEGISLATION TO BAN AUTOMATIC POLITICAL ROBO CALLS WILL BE HEARD BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE TODAY. THE BILL AUTHORED BY NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE CAMERON HENRY WOULD REQUIRE CAMPAIGN CALLS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE "DO NOT CALL" LIST.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE POLICE TO GIVE MOTORISTS A "HEADS UP" BEFORE SETTING UP ROADBLOCK CHECKPOINTS FOR MOST ANY REASON. MONROE REP. MARCUS HUNTER SAYS LAWMEN ARE ALREADY REQUIRED TO GIVE NOTICE OF DWI AND INSURANCE CHECKPOINTS. HUNTER'S BILL WOULD REQUIRE LAW ENFORCEMENT TO NOTIFY MEDIA OF THE DATE AND PARISH OF ANY KIND OF ROADBLOCK CHECKPOINT. IT ALSO REQUIRES THEY SET OUT SIGNS FLARES AND OTHER WARNINGS OF THE IMPENDING STOP. HUNTER SAYS THIS IS NOT SO PEOPLE CAN AVOID THE CHECKPOINT, JUST SO THEY’RE PREPARED FOR IT.

A ST. TAMMANY PARISH TEEN HAS BEEN ARRESTED, AFTER ALLEGEDLY MAKING THREATS AGAINST STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AT HIS SCHOOL ON FACEBOOK. SHERIFF JACK STRAIN SAYS THE 14-YEAR-OLD PUT OUT A "SURVIVOR'S LIST" DETAILING THE ONES HE WOULDN'T HURT. THE FACEBOOK POSTS INDICATED PEOPLE "WERE GOING TO DIE" WHEN HE SAW THEM AT SCHOOL YESTERDAY. THE TEEN IS NOW IN JUVENILE DETENTION PENDING A PRELIMINARY HEARING. THE TEEN HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH TERRORIZING.

A BUS DRIVER FOR EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOLS IS UNDER ARREST FOR ALLEGEDLY PERSUADING A MENTALLY HANDICAPPED FEMALE STUDENT TO PERFORM A SEX ACT ON HIM. EAST BATON ROUGE SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON CASEY HICKS SAYS 61-YEAR-OLD DONALD BORDELON GAVE THE GIRL CANDY AND OTHER REWARDS FOR SEXUAL FAVORS. IF CONVICTED OF AGGRAVATED RAPE, BORDELON COULD SPEND THE REST OF
HIS LIFE IN PRISON.

CALCASIEU PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TODAY, AS SCHOOL OFFICIALS ARE EXPECTING A LARGE NUMBER OF TEACHERS TO BE ABSENT. THE TEACHERS ARE TRAVELING TO BATON ROUGE, TO PROTEST PARTS OF GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED EDUCATION REFORMS PACKAGE.

THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF GAS IS HOVERING AT $3.75 A GALLON. AAA IS ADVISING ITS MEMBERS TO BUDGET FOR AVERAGE PUMP PRICES NEAR FOUR-DOLLARS AS WE GET INTO THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER DRIVING SEASON. REDMAN SAYS THE CURRENT JUMP IN GAS PRICES ARE RUNNING COUNTER TO THE NORMAL RULES OF ECONOMICS. REDMAN SAYS THE HOPE IS THAT AS PRICES RISE A DROP IN DEMAND WILL
EVENTUALLY FORCE THE PUMP PRICE BACK DOWN TO MORE MANAGEABLE LEVELS.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE SAID GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET INCLUDES TOO LARGE AN INCREASE IN HEALTH CARE SPENDING, AND HE WARNED MONDAY THAT HE WOULD SEEK SOME CUTS TO THE PLANS. JINDAL'S 2012-13 BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDES A $679 MILLION BOOST IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS' BUDGET, WHICH WOULD GROW TO $9 BILLION IN THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN SAID OFFICIALS AREN'T PROPOSING THAT TYPE OF INCREASE FOR ANY OTHER AGENCIES, AND HE SAID THE STATE'S INCOME FORECAST CAN'T SUPPORT SUCH A GROWTH RATE. HE ASKED DHH SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN TO DESCRIBE WHERE HE COULD CUT SPENDING.

A BEHIND-THE-SCENES FIRESTORM OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION CENTERS ON A BIG-MONEY, YEARS-LONG DISPUTE BETWEEN LANDOWNERS AND THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY OVER HOW CLEANUP SHOULD BE HANDLED OF ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE FROM DRILLING YEARS AGO. MORE THAN A DOZEN BILLS HAVE BEEN FILED ON THE ISSUE OF SO-CALLED "LEGACY LAWSUITS." LEADERS OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE HOPE A COMPROMISE CAN BE REACHED WITHOUT PUBLIC AND CONTENTIOUS DISPUTES IN THE LEGISLATURE. THE LOUISIANA OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION SAYS FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS OVER THE CLEANUP ARE CHOKING THE INDUSTRY AND STIFLING EXPLORATION IN THE STATE.

TONIGHT'S MEGA MILLIONS MULTI-STATE LOTTERY DRAWING IS FOR A WHOPPING 363 MILLION DOLLARS, MAKING IT THE SECOND LARGEST JACKPOT EVER IN LOUISIANA. THE CURRENT JACKPOT HAS BEEN BUILDING SINCE JANUARY 24TH. THIS WILL BE THE 18TH DRAWING SINCE THE LAST JACKPOT WAS WON.





News For Monday 03/26/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 032612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE REGULAR SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE IS JUST TWO WEEKS OLD, AND ALREADY THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION REFORMS HAVE MADE AMAZING PROGRESS. THE TWO MAIN BILLS OF MR. JINDAL'S PACKAGE HAVE CLEARED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES AND THE HOUSE FLOOR. (AT THE CURRENT PACE, THE KEY BILLS IN THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION REFORMS COULD SEE FINAL PASSAGE WITHIN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. UP NEXT FOR THE GOVERNOR, THE PROPOSED REFORMS OF LOUISIANA'S STATE WORKERS' RETIREMENT SYSTEM, CURRENTLY MORE THAN $18-BILLION IN THE HOLE. MOST EXPERTS BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR WILL NOT HAVE AS EASY A TIME GETTING THAT PASSED.

THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FAILED TO PASS THE TRANSPORTATION BILL WHICH INCLUDES LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING THE RESTORE ACT. THAT WOULD SEND 80-PERCENT OF CLEAN WATER ACT FINES FROM THE 2010 BP OIL SPILL TO THE FIVE GULF STATES TO PAY FOR COASTAL RESTORATION. CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE SAYS THE RESTORE ACT WOULD ALLOCATE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO THE GULF COAST RESTORATION TRUST FUND. THE MAJORITY OF THOSE DOLLARS WOULD FIND THEIR WAY TO LOUISIANA AS THE STATE MOST DEEPLY AFFECTED BY THE OIL SPILL. SCALISE SAYS THE BIGGEST HURDLES TO PASSAGE OF THE RESTORE ACT ARE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VERSIONS OF THE TRANSPORTATION BILL IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. HE SAYS ITS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THOSE DIFFERENCES CAN BE RESOLVED.

POLLS WERE OPEN FOR 14 HOURS ON SATURDAY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, BUT THERE'S A BILL MOVING THROUGH THE STATE LEGISLATURE THAT REDUCES ELECTION DAY BY ONE HOUR. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHLEDER WANTS THE VOTING DAY TO BEGIN AT 7, INSTEAD OF 6 A-M. SCHEDLER SAYS STATISTICS SHOW ONLY 3-PERCENT OF THE VOTERS CAST THEIR BALLOT DURING THE 1ST HOUR. BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE FRANKLIN FOIL HAS AUTHORED A BILL THAT WOULD HAVE THE ELECTION DAY START AT 7, INSTEAD OF 6 AM, AND LAST UNTIL 8 PM. FOIL SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS DESIGNED TO MAKE IT A LITTLE EASIER FOR POLL WORKERS WHO FACE LONG HOURS ON ELECTION DAY.

THE STATE CONTINUES TO BATTLE THE GIANT SPREAD OF SALVINIA, ONE OF THE WORLD'S WORST AQUATIC WEEDS, THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA WATERS. LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SECRETARY ROBERT BARHAM SAYS THE STATE HAS ALREADY SPENT $8 MILLION SPRAYING AND THEY'VE STILL GOT A LONG WAY TO GO. BARHAM SAYS SALVINIA IS A FAST GROWING PLANT THAT CHOKES OFF OXYGEN KILLING FISH, RUINS CONDITIONS FOR BOATING AND CLOGS IRRIGATION SYSTEMS. BARHAM SAYS SALVINIA CAN DOUBLE IN SIZE IN LESS THAN A WEEK. BARHAM SAYS DESPITE THE STATE'S BEST EFFORTS, THE DEADLY WEED CONTINUES TO SPREAD. HE SAYS PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT TEXAS ISN'T DOING AS MUCH AS LOUISIANA TO COMBAT SALVINIA AND SOME BOATS FROM THE LONESTAR STATE ARE SPREADING IT TO WATERS HERE.

A LAWSUIT THAT THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE FILED IN 2010 AGAINST MORE THAN 100 DRUG MANUFACTURERS, ALLEGING THEY ILLEGALLY INFLATED PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS PAID BY LOUISIANA TAXPAYERS THROUGH THE MEDICAID PROGRAM, IS HEADED TO TRIAL NEXT YEAR. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE WILSON FIELDS HAS SET A SERIES OF TRIAL DATES IN 2013 ON MARCH 4, JUNE 17 AND OCT. 7. THE SEPARATE TRIAL DATES WILL DEAL WITH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF DRUGS SUCH AS GENERIC OR BRAND NAME.
THE SUIT ACCUSES SOME OF THE COUNTRY’S LARGEST DRUG MAKERS OF CHARGING “GROSSLY EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS’’ FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, A PRACTICE ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL CONTENDS HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE STATE’S HEALTH-CARE FUNDING CRISIS. THE DRUG MANUFACTURERS ARE CONTESTING THOSE ACCUSATIONS.


WESTLAKE CHEMICAL CORP. CREWS ARE CLEANING UP AFTER AN EXPLOSION AND FIRE IN A TOWER AT THE PLANT IN GEISMAR. PETER RICCA OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY SAYS A CRANE APPARENTLY GOT IN LATE SATURDAY, ALLOWING CREWS TO STABILIZE THE TOWER, WHICH HELD LIQUID ETHYLENE DICHLORIDE. HE SAID IT HAD BEEN LEANING SLIGHTLY SINCE THE ACCIDENT THURSDAY, AND HAD TO BE STABILIZED BEFORE ANYONE COULD GO UP TO IT TO START REMOVING ABOUT 500 GALLONS OF CHEMICAL. WORK IS NOW UNDERWAY TO DO JUST THAT. NOBODY WAS INJURED IN THE ACCIDENT, WHICH OCCURRED AS WORKERS WERE RESTARTING A VINYL CHLORIDE MONOMER UNIT.

AN 18-WHEELER FILLED WITH CONDOMS AND HIV/AIDS TESTING KITS WILL BE PULLING UP TO SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY WEDNESDAY FOR THE WOMEN AND GIRLS HIV/AIDS AWARENESS SUMMIT. THE TRUCK’S STOP IN BATON ROUGE IS ONE OF SEVERAL SLATED IN LOUISIANA FROM MARCH 27 TO MARCH 31 AS PART OF THE CONDOM NATION TOUR, A 25-STATE TOUR TO DISTRIBUTE CONDOMS AND SAFE-SEX INFORMATION FOR FREE. THE SUMMIT AT SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AND THE TOUR STOP COMES TWO WEEKS AFTER THE FEDERAL CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION RELEASED DATA THAT SHOWED THE BATON ROUGE METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREA RANKS NO. 1 IN THE NATION IN ITS RATE OF NEW AIDS DIAGNOSES IN 2010 AFTER RANKING SECOND THE PAST TWO YEARS.




News For Thursday 03/22/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 032212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

YESTERDAY WAS NOT A GOOD DAY FOR THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ORGANIZATION. NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL ANNOUNCED HE HAS SUSPENDED HEAD COACH
SEAN PEYTON FOR THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON AND SUSPENDED GENERAL MANAGER
MICKEY LOOMIS FOR THE FIRST EIGHT REGULAR SEASON GAMES THIS YEAR. THE TEAM WAS FINED A HALF MILLION DOLLARS AND LOST SEVERAL DRAFT PICKS. THE REASON? NFL INVESTIGATORS FOUND THE SAINTS HAD MAINTAINED AN ACTIVE "BOUNTY" SYSTEM FOR THE PAST THREE SEASONS WHICH REWARDED PLAYERS FOR INJURING CERTAIN PLAYERS ON OTHER TEAMS. IN AN INTERVIEW ON THE NFL NETWORK, GOODELL SAYS DURING THE INVESTIGATION THEY WERE MISLED WITH DENIALS. THE LEAGUE SAID THE BOUNTY PROGRAM REMAINED IN PLACE EVEN AFTER THE OWNERSHIP OF THE SAINTS SPECIFICALLY TOLD THE FRONT OFFICE AND COACHING STAFF TO STOP.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RICK SANTORUM WAS IN ALEXANDRIA LAST SPEAKING BEFORE THE PENTECOSTALS OF ALEXANDRIA. SANTORUM TALKED TO THE AUDIENCE ABOUT HIS FAITH AND THE PATH HE TOOK THAT LED HIM TO FINDING JESUS. HE SAYS HE IS TRYING TO KEEP PRAYER AT THE CENTER OF HIS LIFE. THE REV. ANTHONY MANGUN, SAID SANTORUM ORIGINALLY ASKED TO ATTEND THE SERVICE TO WORSHIP. HOWEVER, MANGUN ASKED HIM TO SPEAK WHILE HE WAS THERE. ABOUT 2000 PEOPLE WERE ON HAND FOR THAT ADDRESS. SANTORUM WILL HOLD A RALLY FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE GRANBERRY CONFERENCE CENTER AT LOUISIANA COLLEGE.

LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAYS HE'S SADDENED BY THE ALLEGATIONS OF A "BOUNTY PROGRAM" USED BY THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AGAINST ITS OPPONENTS, BUT HE SAYS THE NFL TEAM REMAINS A GREAT SOURCE OF PRIDE FOR THE STATE. AFTER STRONG PENALTIES WERE HANDED DOWN WEDNESDAY, JINDAL SAID HE DOESN'T BELIEVE THE SANCTIONS OR THE BEHAVIOR TARNISH THE TEAM'S SUPER BOWL WIN FOR THE 2009 SEASON. HE DESCRIBED SEAN PAYTON AS A GREAT COACH. THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE HOPES THE NFL WILL INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS OF BOUNTY PROGRAMS AGAINST OTHER TEAMS AND HOLD THOSE CLUBS TO THE "SAME TYPE OF SCRUTINY, THE SAME TYPE OF SANCTIONS" IF THEY WERE FOUND TO ENGAGE IN SIMILAR BEHAVIOR.

A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT DUMPED OVER 12 INCHES OF RAIN OVER PORTIONS OF SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA YESTERDAY. THE BULK OF THE RAIN TO THE WEST AND SOUTH OF ALEXANDRIA / PINEVILLE. METEOROLOGIST DONALD JONES, WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LAKE CHARLES, SAYS NORTHERN CALCASIEU AND BEAUREGARD PARISHES ARE REPORTING AT LEAST 12 INCHES OF RAIN, FT. POLK CLOSE TO 16 INCHES. ALSO IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA, THE ENTIRE CITY OF LAKE ARTHUR WAS WITHOUT POWER FOR MUCH OF THE DAY AND EVENING, AFTER A TORNADO RIPPED THROUGH. MAYOR ROBBIE BERTRAND SAYS EMERGENCY RESPONDERS ARE WORKING HARD TO RESTORE CITY SYSTEMS.

LOUISIANA'S MISHMASH SYSTEM OF PREKINDERGARTEN AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS WOULD BE COORDINATED AND GRADED ON PERFORMANCE UNDER A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED UNANIMOUS BACKING WEDNESDAY FROM THE LOUISIANA SENATE. THE PROPOSAL WOULD ASSIGN LETTER GRADES TO PRESCHOOLS, STREAMLINE GOVERNANCE AND PULL FUNDING FOR UNDERPERFORMING PROGRAMS. THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WOULD DEVISE THE GRADING STANDARDS AND ACCOUNTABILITY PLANS. THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION MEASURE, HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE DESPITE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER BESE HAS THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO BE IN CHARGE OF SUCH A STREAMLINING EFFORT. A SIMILAR BILL WAS APPROVED WEDNESDAY BY THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE.

VOUCHERS, CHARTERS AND TENURE ARE THE BUZZ WORDS IN LEGISLATION COMING UP FOR DEBATE IN THE HOUSE ON THURSDAY BUT THE DETAILS IN THE COMPLICATED BILLS ARE MORE FAR-REACHING THAN THE OFTEN-BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS IN NEWS STORIES MIGHT INDICATE. IF PASSED, THEY WOULD CONTINUE AN EROSION OF LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS' INFLUENCE IN HIRING AND FIRING TEACHERS — AN EROSION THAT BEGAN LAST YEAR. ALSO IN THE BILLS ARE PROVISIONS MAKING IT EASIER TO PUT NON-CERTIFIED TEACHERS IN CHARTER SCHOOL CLASSROOMS AND OTHERS THAT COULD GIVE COLLEGES AND NONPROFIT GROUPS THE POWER TO AUTHORIZE CHARTER SCHOOLS.

U.S. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SENT A LETTER TO GOVERNOR JINDAL AND ALL STATE LAWMAKERS URGING THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION AND SERIOUS DEBATE OF THE EDUCATION REFORM MEASURES. LANDRIEU IS CONCERNED THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND LAWMAKERS WHO SUPPORT THE LEGISLATION ARE MOVING TOO FAST. IN HER LETTER LANDRIEU VOICED QUESTIONS ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS, THE RAPID EXPANSION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS AND A LACK OF TEACHER INPUT ON THE TOPIC OF TENURE REFORM. LANDRIEU SAYS EVEN THE PACE OF LEGISLATION IS IGNORING NORMAL LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURES.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS PREDICTING A ROBUST DEBATE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY AS LAWMAKERS DISCUSS HIS PROPOSALS TO CHANGE TEACHER TENURE LAWS AND EXPAND A VOUCHER PROGRAM STATEWIDE. JINDAL SAYS A PASSIONATE DEBATE SHOULD OCCUR, BUT IN THE END, THE STATUS QUO IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

A NEAR-ANNUAL ATTEMPT TO SHORTEN VOTING HOURS ON ELECTION DAY HEADED TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE, WITH UNANIMOUS SUPPORT WEDNESDAY FROM THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. CURRENTLY, POLL HOURS RUN FROM 6 A.M. TO 8 P.M. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 209) BY REP. FRANKLIN FOIL, R-BATON ROUGE, WOULD PUSH BACK THE OPENING OF POLLS TO 7 A.M. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SUPPORTS THE BILL AS A WAY TO SHORTEN WORK DAYS FOR TEMPORARY ELECTION WORKERS. HE AND FOIL SAID THE LONG DAY MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO ATTRACT POLL WORKERS AND THE STATE OFFERS ENOUGH EARLY VOTING DAYS FOR PEOPLE TO ACCESS THE POLLS DESPITE THEIR WORK SCHEDULES. "BY NO MEANS DO WE WANT TO LIMIT PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO VOTE," FOIL SAID. SCHEDLER SAID LOUISIANA'S ELECTION DAY IS THE LONGEST IN THE COUNTRY, AND HE SAID DATA SHOWS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN VOTER TURNOUT AND THE LENGTH OF THE ELECTION DAY. OPPONENTS SAID THE CHANGE COULD LIMIT VOTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE, LIKE SHIFT WORKERS WHO HAVE 12-HOUR WORK DAYS.

A $50 BILLION, 50-YEAR PROPOSAL ASPIRING TO STOP COASTAL LAND LOSS IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY BY A GOVERNOR'S PANEL AND MOVES ON TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE. THE COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY APPROVED WEDNESDAY A SERIES OF CHANGES TO A DRAFT REPORT ISSUED IN JANUARY. THE NEW VERSION INCORPORATES CHANGES BASED ON CONCERNS AT PUBLIC HEARINGS, BUT THE BASIC STRATEGIES OF THE ORIGINAL PLAN, RIVER DIVERSIONS TO CREATE LAND AND NEW LEVEE SYSTEMS TO PROTECT COASTAL COMMUNITIES, WERE RETAINED. THE PLAN NOW MOVES TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE FOR APPROVAL. FUNDING THE PLAN HOWEVER, REMAINS UNCERTAIN.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU SAYS LOUISIANA IS GETTING ABOUT $63.5 MILLION IN HURRICANE RECOVERY FUNDS THAT WILL BE SPENT ON LEVEES, THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS, RAISING HOMES AND TO FIX OTHER DAMAGE FROM HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA.








news For Wednesday 03/21/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 032112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FLOODING IS A CONCERN IN LOUISIANA TODAY AS THE RESULT OF A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS WE CAN EXPECT THIS RAIN TO LAST FOR AT LEAST TWO DAYS BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS GOING TO COME TO A STANDSTILL AND HOVER OVER THE STATE. KEIM SAYS EVEN THOUGH THERE IS POTENTIAL FOR HAIL AND TORNADOES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SYSTEM, THE BIG ISSUE WILL BE THE RAIN..

DUE TO BAD WEATHER NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY CLASSES AT THE NATCHITOCHES CAMPUS AND ITS LEESVILLE SITE WILL BE CLOSED ON WEDNESDAY, ACCORDING TO DAVID WEST, NSU SPOKESMAN. NSU CLASSES IN ALEXANDRIA AND SHREVEPORT WILL MEET AS SCHEDULED.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL OFFICIALS HAVE CALLED OFF SCHOOL WEDNESDAY BECAUSE OF CONCERNS ABOUT POSSIBLE FLOODING.

STATE LAWMAKERS SAY THEY'RE RECEIVING COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE'S TAX REFUND DEBIT CARDS. THE STATE BEGAN ISSUING DEBIT CARDS INSTEAD OF REFUND CHECKS IN DECEMBER, BUT HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN, OF JONESBORO, SAYS A DEBIT CARD LIMITS A PERSON'S ABILITY TO SPEND THE MONEY. FANNIN SAYS THE DEBIT CARD IS A GIMMICK THAT HELPS CHASE BANK, WHO THE STATE CONTRACTED WITH TO ISSUE THE CARDS. REVENUE SECRETARY CYNTHIA BRIDGES SAYS THE DECISION TO DISTRIBUTE TAX REFUNDS ON A DEBIT CARD IS AN ATTEMPT TO SAVE MONEY.

TENSIONS SURFACED TUESDAY OVER THE BOARD OF REGENTS' PLANS FOR DIVVYING UP DOLLARS AMONG LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES AS UNIVERSITY LEADERS FACE LOST MONEY FOR CERTAIN CAMPUSES. THE BOARD IS PROPOSING TO SPLIT ABOUT $1 BILLION IN STATE FUNDING BASED ON ITS PERFORMANCE-BASED FORMULA, WHICH CONSIDERS GRADUATION RATES, SKILLS TRAINING FOR HIGH-NEED JOB AREAS AND OTHER BENCHMARKS, RATHER THAN DOLING OUT DOLLARS SOLELY ON STUDENT ENROLLMENT.
THE FORMULA WAS DESIGNED WHEN STATE FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION WAS INCREASING. NOW, WITH REPEATED DROPS IN STATE FINANCING, UNIVERSITY LEADERS ARE AT ODDS ABOUT HOW THE FORMULA HITS THEIR CAMPUSES. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR 2012-13 WOULD SEND ALL THE STATE MONEY TO THE BOARD TO DIVIDE, RATHER THAN ALLOCATING MONEY TO THE FOUR INDIVIDUAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS.

THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, IN A 9-2 VOTE TUESDAY, DECLARED THE NEED FOR A REDUCTION IN FORCE, OR IN OTHER WORDS, EMPLOYEE LAYOFFS, BASED ON THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S OPERATING FUND BUDGET. BEFORE THE VOTE, FINANCIAL DIRECTOR TRESSA MILLER TOLD THE BOARD THAT THE DISTRICT FACES A $1.6 MILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL FOR THE START OF THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1.
THAT SHORTFALL COULD INCREASE TO $3.8 MILLION BY JULY 31 AFTER THE BOARD PAYS THE ANNUAL COSTS OF INCREASED EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT. EARLIER IN THE MEETING, A PEACE OFFERING WAS MADE WHEN LONGTIME ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH CASSIMERE WAS NAMED THE SYSTEM'S ACTING LEADER.

THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED BUDGET WOULD TAKE SOME $1.8 MILLION IN CASINO TAX REVENUE THAT HAS BEEN RESERVED FOR THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD AND DEPOSITED INTO A STATE MEDICAID FUND. IN THE EARLY 2000S, THE ST. LANDRY EXCELLENCE FUND WAS CREATED TO ALLOCATE 5 PERCENT OF THE STATE TAXES COLLECTED FROM EVANGELINE DOWNS RACETRACK AND CASINO'S SLOT MACHINE PROCEEDS TO THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD. ANNUALLY, THE SCHOOL BOARD HAS RECEIVED ABOUT $750,000 FROM THE FUND.


A $325 MILLION BORROWING PLAN TO MAKE REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO RURAL ROADS ACROSS 63 PARISHES RECEIVED BACKING TUESDAY FROM THE HOUSE COMMITTEE THAT OVERSEES TAX AND BOND ISSUES. THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE ALLOWED TO BORROW DOLLARS BY SELLING BONDS TO INVESTORS FOR UPFRONT CASH. THE MONEY WOULD PAY FOR WORK ON RURAL ROADS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS IN THE HIGHWAY PROGRAM. THE DEBT WOULD BE PAID OFF WITH INTEREST OVER 20 YEARS WITH A POT OF MONEY FROM REGISTRATION, LICENSE FEES AND TAXES ON COMMERCIAL TRUCKS AND TRAILERS, MONEY EARMARKED INTO THE STATE HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT FUND.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW YORK ON TUESDAY DISMISSED A LAWSUIT FROM INVESTORS WHO ALLEGED TOP EXECUTIVES OF TRANSOCEAN LTD. MISLED SHAREHOLDERS ABOUT SAFETY PROBLEMS IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO A CATASTROPHIC OIL WELL BLOWOUT IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE JUDGE RULED TRANSOCEAN DID NOT MISLEAD INVESTORS ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH BLOWOUT PREVENTERS, HUMAN ERRORS AND EQUIPMENT PROBLEMS. INVESTORS ALLEGED COMPANY CEO STEVEN NEWMAN CONCEALED INFORMATION ABOUT SAFETY PROBLEMS WITH TRANSOCEAN'S FLEET OF DRILLING RIGS. THE SUIT ALSO NAMED FORMER CEO ROBERT LONG AS A DEFENDANT.

THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS SAYS A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST FILED BY THE LAW PARTNER OF A STATE GOP OFFICIAL IS AN ATTEMPT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S SUPPORTERS TO INTIMIDATE OPPONENTS OF THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION PROPOSALS.
REP. JOHN BEL EDWARDS SAID TUESDAY THAT HE HAD RECEIVED A REQUEST OF E-MAILS HE'S EXCHANGED WITH PEOPLE AFFILIATED WITH THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS. THE LFT IS A TEACHERS UNION OPPOSED TO JINDAL'S PLANS TO CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT USES TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND TO REWORK TEACHER PAY AND JOB PROTECTIONS. THE RECORDS REQUEST WAS FILED BY BRYAN JEANSONNE, THE LAW PARTNER OF JASON DORE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THE LOUISIANA HOUSE HAS SCHEDULED FLOOR DEBATE THURSDAY ON THE EDUCATION PROPOSALS.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT RELEASED YESTERDAY, MORE THAN A DOZEN STATE-FUNDED GROUP HOMES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED ARE UNSAFE, UNCLEAN AND UNHEALTHY FOR RESIDENTS WHO ARE AMONG THE STATE'S MOST VULNERABLE CITIZENS. THE REVIEW BY THE ADVOCACY CENTER, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT VISITED GROUP HOMES AND LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION DATA OVER THREE YEARS, SAID DISABLED RESIDENTS TOO OFTEN WEREN'T GIVEN THE MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT, MEDICAL CARE AND PROTECTION THEY SHOULD RECEIVE. EMPLOYEES AT THE HOMES WEREN'T PROPERLY TRAINED AND SUPERVISED, THE REPORT SAID. MORE THAN 4,000 PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES IN LOUISIANA LIVE IN 509 PRIVATELY-RUN, BUT PUBLICLY-FUNDED GROUP HOMES.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARREST A WOMAN FOR THE FEBRUARY 6TH DEATH OF HER 9-MONTH-OLD BABY. SHERIFF'S CAPTAIN KIP JUDICE (JOO-DEECE) SAYS A BLOOD TOXICOLOGY REPORT WAS ORDERED ON THE CHILD'S REMAINS. JUDICE SAYS LETHAL LEVELS OF OXYCODONE AND OXYMORPHONE--BOTH POWERFUL ADULT PAIN MEDS--WERE FOUND IN THE CHILD'S SYSTEM. HE SAYS 30-YEAR-OLD CHRISTINA MENARD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE CHILD'S DEATH.

LOUISIANA'S AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER URGES SENIORS ON LIMITED INCOMES TO APPLY FOR COUPONS THAT CAN BE USED FOR LOCALLY GROWN FRESH FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND OTHER FOOD AT FARMERS MARKETS AND ROADSIDE STANDS. TO QUALIFY, PEOPLE MUST BE AT LEAST 60 YEARS OLD AND EARN LESS THAN 185 PERCENT OF THE POVERTY LEVEL. THAT MEANS AT MOST $20,147 FOR A ONE-PERSON HOUSEHOLD AND $27,214 FOR A TWO-PERSON HOUSEHOLD. COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE STATE HAS $342,790 FOR THIS YEAR'S PROGRAM. COUPONS WILL BE MAILED AT THE END OF MAY.

A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE IT UNLAWFUL FOR A CARETAKER TO FAIL TO REPORT A CHILD MISSING AFTER 24 HOURS, PASSED OUT OF A SENATE COMMITTEE YESTERDAY MORNING. THE BILL IS DESIGNED TO PREVENT A SITUATION LIKE THE ONE THAT RESULTED IN THE DISAPPEARANCE AND DEATH OF CAYLEE ANTHONY IN FLORIDA. IN COMMITTEE, OUACHITA PARISH DA JERRY JONES SAID IN THE CAYLEE ANTHONY CASE, CAUSE OF DEATH COULDN'T BE DETERMINED BECAUSE THE CHILD HAD BEEN DEAD FOR SO LONG BY THE TIME SHE WAS FOUND. HE SAYS THIS BILL WOULD REMEDY SIMILAR SITUATIONS. THE BILL CLEARED THER COMMITTEE AND HEADS NOW TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SAYS A NEW IBERIA MAN IS ACCUSED OF SHOCKING FISH. ENFORCEMENT DIVISION SPOKESMAN ADAM EINCK SAYS 33-YEAR-OLD JAMES J. BOURG COULD FACE UP TO $3,400 IN FINES AND 15 MONTHS IN JAIL IF CONVICTED ON ALL CHARGES AGAINST HIM. HE SAYS AGENTS ARRESTED BOURG ON MARCH 16 AFTER WATCHING HIM TAKE FISH BY SHOCKING THEM IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN IN IBERIA PARISH. A NEWS RELEASE SAYS AGENTS CONFISCATED THE SHOCKING DEVICE, PARTS FOR MORE, TWO STOLEN CRAB TRAPS, 65 POUNDS OF CATFISH AND BOURG'S 16-FOOT BOAT AND 50-HORSEPOWER MOTOR. EINCK SAYS THE AGENTS ALSO FOUND RECORDS SHOWING THAT HE HAD TAKEN AND SOLD CATFISH WITHOUT THE REQUIRED LICENSES OR COMPLETING TRIP TICKETS AND LABELING REQUIREMENTS ON PACKAGES OF FISH FOR SALE.

news For Tuesday 03/20/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 032012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN INTENSE STORM THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE LOCAL FLOODING WILL MOVE INTO THE STATE LATER TODAY. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS A COLD FRONT ALSO HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BRING SEVERE WEATHER TO THE BAYOU STATE. KEIM SAYS THIS WEATHER SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO STALL OVER LOUISIANA, WHICH COULD RESULT IN FLOODING CONDITIONS. A PORTION OF THE ACADIANA REGION HAD A MAJOR FLOODING EVENT LAST WEEK. KEIM SAYS THIS WEATHER FORECAST IS NOT GOOD NEWS FOR THOSE FOLKS, AS MORE FLOODING IS A REAL POSSIBILITY.

ON THE EVE OF HIS TRIAL ON 13 CHARGES OF SEX CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN, FORMER PINEVILLE CHURCH YOUTH MINISTER ANGELO "DOOGIE" GOLATT PLEADED GUILTY MONDAY TO FOUR COUNTS OF FORCIBLE RAPE. NINTH DISTRICT JUDGE TOM YEAGER SENTENCED GOLATT TO FOUR CONCURRENT PRISON TERMS OF 40 YEARS. GOLATT WAS A YOUTH MINISTER AT DONAHUE FAMILY CHURCH IN PINEVILLE DURING MUCH OF THE PERIOD FROM 2003 TO 2007, WHEN HE WAS SUSPECTED OF MOLESTING AND RAPING BOYS WHOSE FAMILIES WERE MEMBERS OF THE NOW DEFUNCT CHURCH.

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY YESTERDAY APPROVED RESOLUTIONS AGAINST CLOSING CENTRAL LOUISIANA STATE HOSPITAL AND THE DABADIE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, BOTH IN PINEVILLE. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS PLANS CALL FOR CLOSING THE CENTRAL FACILITIES AT THE CURRENT SITE AND RELOCATING IN-PATIENT MENTAL HEALTH-CARE SERVICES TO A $6 MILLION BUILDING TO BE BUILT ON A SITE ADJACENT TO PINECREST SUPPORTS AND SERVICES CENTER IN PINEVILLE. DABADIE HAS BEEN TARGETED FOR CLOSURE BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE RESOLUTIONS, THOUGHT THEY MAKE THE JURY’S THOUGHTS CLEAR, CARRY LITTLE IF ANY WEIGHT.

THREE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ARE SCHEDULED TO VISIT CENTRAL LOUISIANA THIS WEEK IN ADVANCE OF SATURDAY’S PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY THIS SATURDAY. NEWT GINGRICH WILL HOLD A TOWN HALL-STYLE MEETING AT 9 A.M. TOMORROW IN GRANBERRY CONFERENCE CENTER AT LOUISIANA COLLEGE. AT 7 P.M. WEDNESDAY, RICK SANTORUM WILL VISIT THE PENTECOSTALS OF ALEXANDRIA. THEN ON FRIDAY, RON PAUL IS SCHEDULED TO VISIT LOUISIANA COLLEGE AT 1 P.M. AND SANTORUM IS SCHEDULED TO VISIT LC AT 7 P.M. OFFICIALS AT LOUISIANA COLLEGE SAY THEY ARE ALSO IS ATTEMPTING TO HAVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY VISIT THIS WEEK. LOUISIANA’S PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ELECTIONS FOR REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WILL BE HELD THIS SATURDAY.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT ON MONDAY TURNED DOWN LOUISIANA'S BID TO RECOVER THE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT TAKEN FROM THE STATE AS A RESULT OF THE 2010 CENSUS.
THE COURT DID NOT COMMENT ON ITS ORDER PREVENTING THE STATE FROM PURSUING A LAWSUIT THAT CLAIMS THE CENSUS UNFAIRLY INCLUDED UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS IN EACH STATE'S POPULATION COUNT. LOUISIANA SAID CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, TEXAS AND OTHER STATES WITH LARGE POPULATIONS OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS GAINED SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AT THE EXPENSE OF LOUISIANA AND A HANDFUL OF OTHER STATES. LOUISIANA WENT FROM SEVEN TO SIX SEATS IN THE HOUSE BASED ON THE CENSUS. THE LAWSUIT, FILED BY LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL BUDDY CALDWELL, ASKED THE COURT TO ORDER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RE-CALCULATE HOUSE SEATS BASED ONLY ON LEGAL RESIDENTS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL ANNOUNCED THE CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION PROPOSAL FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR, WHICH INCLUDES MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FUNDING FOR PROJECTS IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. THE PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED YESTERDAY TO THE LEGISLATURE IN THE FORM OF HOUSE BILL 2. UNDER THE BILL $6.8 MILLION WOULD BE EARMARKED FOR RENOVATIONS TO THE ENGLAND AIR PARK HOSPITAL AND CONVERTING THE SCHOOL TO AN OUTPATIENT FACILITY, WITH $18 MILLION IN PRIORITY 5 FUNDING FOR A TOTAL INVESTMENT OF $24.5 MILLION. $1 MILLION WOULD ALSO GO TOWARDS RELOCATING CENTRAL LOUISIANA STATE HOSPITAL, WITH $15 MILLION IN PRIORITY 5 FUNDING, FOR A TOTAL INVESTMENT OF $16 MILLION. THE BILL WILL BE DEBATED IN THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

DEMOCRATIC STATE LAWMAKERS UNSUCCESSFULLY PRESSED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION AND HIS LEGISLATIVE ALLIES MONDAY TO SLOW DOWN DEBATE OVER THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION PROPOSALS. THE BILLS WOULD MAKE SWEEPING CHANGES TO THE WAY EDUCATION IS FINANCED IN LOUISIANA AND TO JOB PROTECTIONS AND SALARIES FOR TEACHERS. THE MEASURES WOULD MAKE IT EASIER TO OPEN CHARTER SCHOOLS AND WOULD CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT USES TAX DOLLARS TO SEND STUDENTS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS. DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SAID JINDAL IS TRYING TO STEAMROLL THE ISSUE, WITHOUT ALLOWING ENOUGH DEBATE AND PUBLIC INPUT ABOUT CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS AND PROGRAM STRUCTURES.

FOURTH AND EIGHTH GRADE PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE BEGIN LEAP TESTING TODAY. SCOTT NORTON IS THE ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION. HE SAYS ANY STUDENT ENTERING FIFTH OR NINTH GRADE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR MUST PASS THE LEAP TEST. NORTON SAYS TODAY BEGINS PHASE ONE. NORTON ALSO SAYS A GRADUATION EXIT EXAM WILL ALSO BE GIVEN TODAY FOR 11TH GRADERS. HE SAYS PHASE TWO IS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 12-13.

ANOTHER LOUISIANA COMPANY BRANCHES OUT. REGIONAL BANKER IBERIABANK CORP., WHICH HAS BEEN RAPIDLY EXPANDING ACROSS THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES, AGREED MONDAY TO ACQUIRE FLORIDA GULF BANCORP INC. IN A DEAL VALUED AT UP TO $43.7 MILLION. IBERIABANK SAID THE BOARDS OF BOTH COMPANIES HAD APPROVED THE DEAL. THE BUYOUT STILL REQUIRES THE APPROVAL OF FLORIDA GULF BANCORP SHAREHOLDERS AND BANKING REGULATORS. IBERIABANK SAID IT HOPED TO CLOSE THE DEAL DURING THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2012.

LOUISIANA'S COMMISSIONER OF ELECTIONS SAYS THE NUMBERS OF RESIDENTS WHO VOTED EARLY FOR THE MARCH24 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY DOUBLED OVER THE SAME ELECTION FOUR YEARS AGO. 41-THOUSAND PEOPLE CAST EARLY BALLOTS. COMMISSIONER ANGIE ROGERS IS HOPING FOR AN EQUALLY STRONG TURNOUT FOR THIS SATURDAY'S ELECTION. SHE SAYS THE TURNOUT IN 2008 WAS ABOUT 25-PERCENT OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS.

THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE SAYS THE BODY FOUND IN AN ICE CHEST IN A SLIDELL WOMAN'S HOME WAS THAT OF 83-YEAR-OLD CHARLES FISHER. ST. TAMMANY PARISH CORONER, DR. PETER GALVAN, SAID MONDAY THEY USED DNA TO IDENTIFY THE BODY. NO CAUSE OF DEATH HAS YET BEEN DETERMINED. CHARLES FISHER IS BELIEVED TO BE THE FATHER OF DEBRA FISHER, WHO WAS ARRESTED FOR UNLAWFUL DISPOSAL OF REMAINS AND MUTILATING HUMAN REMAINS. AUTHORITIES SAY THE BODY MIGHT HAVE BEEN HIDDEN INSIDE A 160-QUART ICE CHEST FOR AS LONG AS TWO YEARS. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING THE POSSIBILITY THAT FISHER CONCEALED HER FATHER'S DEATH TO CONTINUE RECEIVING HIS SOCIAL SECURITY INCOME.

STATE LAWMAKERS STARTED TO MOVE AHEAD MONDAY WITH PROPOSALS TO CREATE SEVERAL NEW SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATES IN LOUISIANA. HEADED TO THE HOUSE FLOOR WERE MEASURES THAT WOULD ESTABLISH PLATES TO HELP THE STATE BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION, TO AID WILDFIRE FIGHTING EFFORTS AND TO HONOR CERTAIN KOREAN WAR VETERANS. THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE BACKED ALL THE BILLS WITHOUT OBJECTION.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS NOW STEERING CLEAR OF ENDORSEMENTS IN THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL COMPETITION, BUT LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE IS JUMPING INTO THE ENDORSEMENT GAME IN ADVANCE OF LOUISIANA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, BACKING MITT ROMNEY. ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN MONDAY ANNOUNCED THE SUPPORT OF DARDENNE AND AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN. IN A STATEMENT, DARDENNE SAID HE SUPPORTS ROMNEY'S ECONOMIC AND ENERGY PLANS IN HIS BID TO BE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S NOMINEE AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN THE FALL ELECTION. LOUISIANA'S PRIMARY IS SATURDAY.

TEXTRON MARINE & LAND SYSTEMS HAS BEEN AWARDED A U.S. ARMY CONTRACT FOR 64 MOBILE STRIKE FORCE VEHICLES FOR THE AFGHANISTAN NATIONAL ARMY. THE CONTRACT HAS A MAXIMUM VALUE OF $71.7 MILLION. TEXTRON SAID MONDAY THAT THE ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS WILL BE BUILT AT TEXTRON'S PLANTS IN THE NEW ORLEANS AREA. DELIVERIES ARE SCHEDULED BY FEBRUARY 2013.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS REFUSED TO DISMISS A LAWSUIT THAT THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF LOUISIANA FILED ON BEHALF OF A MAN WHO CLAIMS HE WAS ARRESTED FOR CRITICIZING A POLICE CHIEF IN AN EMAIL TO A NEWSPAPER. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE ELIZABETH FOOTE RULED LAST WEEK THAT MAMOU POLICE CHIEF GREG DUPUIS AND AN OFFICER AREN'T ENTITLED TO IMMUNITY FROM CLAIMS THEY VIOLATED THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF BOBBY FELIX SIMMONS, WHO WAS ARRESTED IN 2008 AND CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL DEFAMATION. SIMMONS, A FORMER POLICE OFFICER IN ABBEVILLE AND FRANKLIN, LA., WAS HELD OVERNIGHT AT THE MAMOU POLICE DEPARTMENT BEFORE HE WAS RELEASED ON BOND.

THE PERSON ACCUSED OF DRIVING THROUGH THE FRONT OF A LAFAYETTE SPORTS BAR LAST WEEK HAS COME FORWARD. AFTER SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF THE INCIDENT WAS SHOWN ON LOCAL TV, A WOMAN CAME FORWARD AND ADMITTED SHE WAS DRIVING THE CAR THAT CRASHED INTO THE OASIS BAR. THE BAR OWNERS JUST WANT THE REPAIRS TO BE PAID FOR, AND THE WOMAN HAS INSURANCE.

A SENATE COMMITTEE IS HEARING DEBATE TODAY ON A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE IT A CRIME TO FAIL TO REPORT A MISSING OR DEAD CHILD. SLIDELL SENATOR A.G. CROWE AUTHORED THE BILL WHICH WAS IN RESPONSE TO THE DISAPPEARANCE AND DEATH OF CAYLEE ANTHONY IN FLORIDA. CROWE SAYS HIS BILL WOULD NOT ONLY MAKE IT A CRIME TO FAIL TO REPORT A MISSING CHILD BUT WOULD INCREASE THE PENALTIES FOR INTENTIONALLY GIVING FALSE INFORMATION TO POLICE ABOUT A MISSING CHILD.

THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT IS OPENING A PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD FOR TWO PROPOSED OFFSHORE PETROLEUM LEASE SALES IN THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO. NO FIRM DATES HAVE BEEN SET FOR THE SALES, BUT FEDERAL PLANS CALL FOR THE SALES TO BE HELD BETWEEN 2012 AND 2017. THE AREA OF THE PROPOSED SALES INCLUDES ABOUT 658,000 ACRES MORE THAN 120 MILES OFFSHORE OF ALABAMA AND FLORIDA. OTHER AREAS OF THE EASTERN GULF — INCLUDING THE STRAITS OF FLORIDA — ARE NOT INCLUDED. THOSE AREAS ARE UNDER A LEASING MORATORIUM MANDATED BY CONGRESS UNTIL JUNE 30, 2022.

A BOUNTY HUNTER WHO TRACKS NEW ORLEANS CRIMINALS WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF A NEW REALITY TV SHOW BEING LAUNCHED NEXT MONTH BY SPIKE TV. "BIG EASY JUSTICE" WILL CENTER ON THE GRITTY CRIMINAL UNDERWORLD OF NEW ORLEANS AND A BOUNTY HUNTER KNOWN AS TAT-2, WHO HUNTS DOWN SOME OF THE CITY'S MOST ELUSIVE CRIMINALS.
TAT-2, WHOSE REAL NAME IS GENE THACKER, IS A MILITARY VETERAN AND FORMER DEPUTY WITH THE JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE. THACKER'S 12-YEAR BOUNTY HUNTING CAREER HAS HELPED PUT AWAY THOUSANDS OF CRIMINALS CHARGED WITH ARMED ROBBERY, DRUG POSSESSION, DOMESTIC ABUSE AND MURDER. "BIG EASY JUSTICE" PREMIERES APRIL 10 AT 9 P.M. CDT.

BEAUREGARD PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICIALS ARRESTED A LONGVILLE MAN AND ARE SEEKING A GLENMORA MAN IN CONNECTION WITH A KIDNAPPING AND BEATING THAT TOOK PLACE SATURDAY NIGHT. 19-YEAR-OLD JUSTIN ALEXANDER OF LONGVILLE WAS ARRESTED EARLY MONDAY MORNING FOLLOWING A REPORT THAT A MAN WAS TAKEN FROM HIS LONGVILLE HOME BY TWO ARMED MEN, WHO DROVE THE VICTIM TO A WOODED AREA AND BEAT THE MAN SEVERELY. THE VICTIM WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS TREATED AND RELEASED. THE SECOND SUSPECT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS MARCUS ELLIOT OF GLENMORA. SHERIFF'S OFFICIALS ASKED THAT ANYONE WITH INFORMATION AS TO ELLIOT'S WHEREABOUTS CONTACT BEAUREGARD PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE.


News For Monday 03/19/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 031912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA HAS A DEAL TO SELL THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL FOR $4 TO THE NOBLE HOSPITALITY INC., WHICH HAS MANAGED THE HOTEL SINCE LAST SUMMER. NOBLE WOULD PAY $4 MILLION, AND THE CITY WOULD PUT IN ABOUT $2 MILLION WORTH OF REPAIRS TO THE HOTEL AND THE CONNECTED ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. THE CITY WOULD GIVE UP TO FIVE YEARS OF UTILITY AND TAX BREAKS, AND OFFER UP TO $2 MILLION MORE IN BREAKS ON THE PURCHASE PRICE. UNDER THE PLAN NOBLE WOULD NEED TO MEET CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS TO GET THE PRICE BREAKS. ALONG WITH THE NOBEL WOULD BE REQUIRED TO SPEND ABOUT $8 MILLION TO IMPROVE THE HOTEL TO THE STATUS OF A HOLIDAY INN OR HILTON DOUBLETREE. THE CITY COUNCIL IS TO CONSIDER THE PROPOSAL TUESDAY.

A SATURDAY AFTERNOON A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH HAS LEFT AN ALEXANDRIA WOMAN WITH SERIOUS INJURIES. STATE POLICE SAY A VEHICLE DRIVEN BY 44 YEAR OLD SHERRY ELIAS LEFT LA457 AND FLIPPED OVER SEVERAL TIMES. ELIAS WAS NOT WEARING A SEAT BELT AND WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE.

THE ISSUE OF WOMEN'S PAY WILL BE BROUGHT UP ONCE AGAIN DURING THE ONGOING LEGISLATIVE SESSION. ACCORDING TO DATA FIGURES FROM THE 2010 US CENSUS, LOUISIANA RANKS 50TH IN THE NATION IN THE RATIO OF PAY OF MEN AND WOMEN. RETIRED TULANE LAW PROFESSOR BETH WILLINGER SAYS THE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT MEN MAKE AND WHAT WOMEN MAKE IN LOUISIANA IS HORRIFIC. WILLINGER SAYS THE WAGES FOR MEN IN LOUISIANA ARE ABOUT AVERAGE FOR THE COUNTRY WHILE THE WAGES FOR WOMEN ARE WELL BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. NEW ORLEANS SENATOR KAREN PETERSON HAS FILED A BILL THAT WOULD EQUALIZE PAY. SHE SAYS WOMEN AND MEN DESERVE TO EARN THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR THE SAME KIND OF WORK THAT'S DONE

MORE LSU MEDICAL SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE CHOOSING TO REMAIN IN LOUISIANA TO PRACTICE MEDICINE; GOOD NEWS FOR THE STATE. DR. STEVE NELSON IS DEAN OF THE LSU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN NEW ORLEANS. HE SAYS 108 OF 171 MED STUDENTS GRADUATING THIS YEAR HAVE ELECTED TO STAY, AND BE DOCTORS HERE. DR. NELSON SAYS THE MED STUDENTS TOOK PART IN A NATIONAL PROGRAM THAT MATCHES RESIDENTS WITH POSITIONS AT TEACHING HOSPITALS NATIONWIDE, BUT OVER 60% CHOSE TO COMPLETE THEIR MEDICAL TRAINING IN LOUISIANA. HE SAYS THAT'S GREAT NEWS, BECAUSE NEW DOCTORS ARE IN DEMAND.

THE I-R-S IS WARNING SENIOR CITIZENS AND OTHER TAXPAYERS ABOUT A FEDERAL TAX REFUND SCAM THAT'S EMERGED IN LOUISIANA PROMISING FRAUDULENT REFUNDS. I-R-S SPOKESPERSON DEE HARRIS STEPTER SAYS PROMOTERS OF THE SCAM ARE TELLING SENIORS THEY CAN RECEIVE A TAX REFUND BASED ON THE AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT. HARRIS SAYS TAXPAYERS SHOULD BE AWARE OF ANYONE WHO OFFERS FREE MONEY WITH NO DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED. HARRIS SAYS THIS BOGUS REFUND SCAM HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED IN LOUISIANA AND FIVE OTHER STATES. MOST OF THE VICTIMS ARE SENIOR CITIZENS.

THE AMERICAN RED CROSS AND LOCAL OFFICIALS ESTIMATE THAT MORE THAN 1,200 HOMES IN FIVE PARISHES RECEIVED SOME DEGREE OF FLOOD-RELATED DAMAGE FROM HEAVY RAINS LAST WEEK. SOME OF THE HEAVIEST DAMAGE WAS SEEN IN NORTHERN LAFAYETTE PARISH AND SOUTHERN ST. LANDRY PARISH. IN CARENCRO, AN ESTIMATED 454 RESIDENCES TOOK ON WATER. IN RURAL AREAS OF NORTHERN LAFAYETTE PARISH OUTSIDE OF CARENCRO, ABOUT 390 HOMES WERE AFFECTED.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY PLANS TO FORECLOSE ON A COMPANY THAT WAS PURCHASING A CANE SYRUP MILL IN LACASSINE. AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE STATE HAS OUTSTANDING OBLIGATIONS ON THE MILL WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THE CONTROVERSIAL MILL WAS BUILT BY FORMER AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER BOB ODOM, USING STATE LABOR, AT A COSTS OF 16.2 MILLION DOLLARS. STRAIN SAYS LAKE CHARLES CANE LLC, THE COMPANY BUYING THE MILL FROM THE STATE, DEFAULTED ON A CRITICAL PAYMENT TO ONE OF THE BANKS. STRAIN SAYS THE MILL IS STILL A VALUABLE PROPERTY. HE SAYS EVEN THOUGH THE STATE MAY TAKE A SHORT-TERM LOSS ON THE PROJECT HE SEES A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE FACILITY.

THE STATE OF LOUISIANA AND THE HORNETS HAVE REACHED AN AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE THAT WILL KEEP THE NBA FRANCHISE PLAYING BASKETBALL IN NEW ORLEANS THROUGH 2024. HORNETS CHAIRMAN JAC SPERLING THE NEW LEASE DOES NOT ALLOW THE TEAM TO RE-LOCATE TO ANOTHER CITY. LOUISIANA WILL NO LONGER SUBSIDIZE THE TEAM UNDER THE NEW LEASE AGREEMENT, BUT THE STATE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE TO APPROVE A FUNDING PLAN TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HORNETS ARENA. THE NEW LEASE AGREEMENT IS ALSO CONTINGENT ON A PRIVATE GROUP BUYING BUYING THE TEAM. SPERLING SAYS THERE ARE TWO PARTIES INTERESTED IN THE TEAM.


SPORTS..

13TH RANKED LSU FAILED TO COMPLETE A SWEEP OF MISSISSIPPI STATE AS THEY
LOST TO THE BULLDOGS 7 TO 1 ON SUNDAY.

News For Friday 03/16/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 031612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS APPROVED GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED TEACHER TENURE REFORM BILL. THE BILL BY METAIRIE SENATOR CONRAD APPEL, WHO CHAIRS THE COMMITTEE, GETS RID OF CERTAIN SENIORITY PROTECTIONS AND MAKES TENURE HARDER TO ACHIEVE. STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO WEED OUT BAD TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM. FOR A SECOND DAY IN A ROW YESTERDAY, HUNDREDS OF TEACHERS WERE AT THE CAPITOL TO PROTEST THE LEGISLATION. MANY OF THE TEACHERS SAY THEY FEEL THEY ARE BEING UNFAIRLY ATTACKED. THE MEASURE NOW GOES TO THE SENATE FLOOR. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE PASSED ITS VERSION OF THE BILL WEDNESDAY.

RAPIDES PARISH SUPT. OF SCHOOLS DR. GARY JONES SAYS WE HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED AN ISSUE WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF TEACHERS TAKING SICK OR PERSONAL LEAVE TO ATTEND COMMITTEE MEETINGS ON THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED EDUCATION REFORMS. JONES SAYS WHEN HE TESTIFIED IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE ON WEDNESDAY, HE SAW TWO TEACHERS FROM RAPIDES PARISH. HE SAY THERE MAY HAVE BEEN MORE. BUT, IF THEY TOOK PERSONAL DAYS TO BE THERE, SO DID HE.

SEVERAL DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS COMPLAINED THURSDAY ABOUT SOME TEACHERS BEING SHUT OUT OF THE STATE CAPITOL AS LAWMAKERS DEBATED KEY BILLS IN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S PUBLIC EDUCATION OVERHAUL. THEY ALSO ASKED WHY THE RUSH TO PASS THE MEASURES IN THE FIRST DAYS OF AN 85-DAY LEGISLATIVE SESSION WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH AT STAKE FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

AS DEBATE CONTINUES AT THE STATE CAPITOL OVER BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE, A STATEWIDE POLL RELEASED TODAY SHOWS THERE'S PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR MANY OF THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS. SOUTHERN MEDIA AND OPINION RESEARCH POLLSTER BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS 82-PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS FAVOR CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE AND 56-PERCENT SUPPORT A VOUCHER SYSTEM. PINSONAT'S POLL ALSO SHOWS A MAJORITY FEEL THAT IF PRIVATE SCHOOLS DO RECEIVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS IN THE FORM OF TUITION VOUCHERS, THOSE SCHOOLS SHOULD PROVE THEY PROVIDE A QUALITY EDUCATION. PINSONAT SURVEYED 600 LOUISIANA VOTERS DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WANTS THE STATE TO SHED SOME PROPERTY FOR UPFRONT CASH, OFFERING BUDGET PLANS THAT INCLUDE SELLING A STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL, A PARKING LOT OVERLOOKING THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL AND A PRISON IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. IF THE PROPERTY SALES GENERATE THE MONEY ASSUMED IN JINDAL'S PROPOSALS, $35 MILLION WOULD BE USED FOR NEXT YEAR'S OPERATING BUDGET, AND ANOTHER $40 MILLION WOULD BE SENT TO THE STATE'S "RAINY DAY" FUND. LAWMAKERS WILL CONSIDER THE IDEAS THIS SESSION.

IT APPEARS NOW, THE MAN ACCUSED OF HOLDING UP A CAPITOL ONE BANK BRANCH IN BALL EARLIER THIS MONTH, WAS NO BEGINNER. THE SUSPECT SERVED ALMOST SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR BANK ROBBERIES THAT OCCURRED IN OUACHITA PARISH IN 2001.
46 YEAR OLD STEPHEN PAUL KENT WAS CHARGED TUESDAY WITH SIMPLE ROBBERY AND DRUG POSSESSION IN CONNECTION WITH THE MARCH 6 . AUTHORITIES SAY IN 2001, KENT WAS INDICTED IN OUACHITA PARISH ON FOUR COUNTS OF SIMPLE ROBBERY IN CONNECTION WITH BANK ROBBERIES IN MONROE AND WEST MONROE. HE PLEADED GUILTY TO TWO OF THE COUNTS, AND PROSECUTORS DROPPED THE OTHER TWO CHARGES.

THE LSU FACULTY SENATE APPROVES A RESOLUTION GIVING INSTRUCTORS THE OPTION TO INCLUDE CLASS ATTENDANCE IN FINAL COURSE GRADES. LSU MASS COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR AND RESOLUTION CO-SPONSOR, LOUIS DAY SUPPORTS THE IDEA THAT CLASS ATTENDANCE IS IMPORTANT FROM AN INTELLECTUAL STANDPOINT. HE SAYS, IN HIS EXPERIENCE, STUDENTS WHO REGULARLY ATTEND CLASS PERFORM BETTER AND MAKE BETTER GRADES. DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS FOR THE LSU STUDENT GOVERNMENT, THOMAS RODGERS, DISAGREES WITH THE RESOLUTION. HE SAYS PROFESSORS SHOULD
FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO DRAW STUDENTS INTO THE CLASS RATHER THAN TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT. THE RESOLUTION STILL NEEDS APPROVAL FROM THE ADMINISTRATION AT LSU
BEFORE TAKING EFFECT THIS FALL.

THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS IS QUESTIONING WHETHER HE SHOULD SIGN A CONTRACT UNDER WHICH THE SCHOOL WOULD TAKE OVER ALL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS AT THE STATE HEALTH AGENCY. UNO PRESIDENT PETER J. FOS SAID HE IS "TROUBLED" BY PROVISIONS OF THE PROPOSED DEAL, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LAYOFF OF 69 CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. AMONG CONCERNS FOS LAID OUT IN A LETTER TO DHH SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN WERE POTENTIAL LITIGATION FROM TO-BE-TERMINATED EMPLOYEES AND THE FINANCIAL LIABILITY ASSOCIATED WITH THOSE EMPLOYEES. UNDER THE PROPOSAL, THE DHH EMPLOYEES WOULD ACTUALLY BE SUBJECT TO LAYOFFS BY UNO, NOT THE DHH.

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE WOMEN'S CAUCUS IS PARTNERING WITH A SERVICE THAT PROVIDES FREE TEXT MESSAGES TO ASSIST PREGNANT WOMEN AND NEW MOTHERS IN THE STATE. NEW ORLEANS SENATOR KAREN PETERSON SAYS THE SERVICE IS CALLED, "TEXT4BABY." SHE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO HELP PREVENT PREMATURE BIRTHS AND INFANT DEATHS. PETERSON SAYS "TEXT4BABY" IS THE FIRST FREE HEALTH TEXT MESSAGING
SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR MOMS. SHE SAYS WOMEN CAN TEXT "BABY" TO 511411 TO REGISTER.

A WESTLAKE WOMAN WILL STAND TRIAL IN BEAUREGARD PARISH THIS MAY FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY. HEATHER DAUGHDRILL HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO THE CHARGES. PROSECUTORS SAYS DAUGHDRILL MET THE BOY WHILE WORKING AT TEACHERS AIDE AT SUMMER BIBLE CAMP. SHE FACES SIMILAR CHARGES IN CALCASIEU AS WELL, THOUGH NO TRIAL DATE IS SET.

THE LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL WILL DEBATE ENDING RED LIGHT CAMERAS IN THE CITY. THREE COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE BACKING THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE TO GET RID OF THE CONTROVERSIAL CAMS. SOME SAYS THEY PROMOTE MORE SAFE DRIVING AND REDUCE ACCIDENTS AT INTERSECTIONS. SOME FEEL THEY EXIST ONLY TO GENERATE EASY REVENUE FOR THE CITY. A VOTE IS SCHEDULED IN EARLY APRIL.

CUTS IN STATE SUPPORT TO HIGHER EDUCATION IS FORCING MANY STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF FUNDING. GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT FRANK POGUE ANNOUNCES A $10-MILLION CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AS PART OF A LARGER EFFORT TO RAISE MONEY FOR THE UNIVERSITY. POGUE SAYS THE FUNDS WOULD BE USED TO SUPPORT ATHLETICS, PROVIDE FOR BUILDING MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT FACULTY SALARIES AND MORE. HE SAYS A KEY GOAL OF THE UNIVERSITY IS TO CONTINUE TO ATTRACT TOP ACADEMIC CANDIDATES.

GROVER NORQUIST, THE WELL-KNOWN ANTI-TAX-INCREASE ACTIVIST OF AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM, HAS SENT A LETTER TO LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS URGING THEM TO VOTE AGAINST TAX HIKES. HE'S GOT FEW WORRIES. LAWMAKERS CAN'T APPROVE TAX INCREASES IN THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION UNDER THE STATE CONSTITUTION. NORQUIST'S LETTER ASKS STATE LAWMAKERS TO "STAND WITH GOV. (BOBBY) JINDAL IN OPPOSITION TO HIGHER TAXES AND ATTEMPTS TO IMPOSE EXCESSIVE REGULATION."

NEW ORLEANS POLICE HAVE ISSUED AN ARREST WARRANT FOR COMEDIC ACTOR RUSSELL BRAND ON A CHARGE OF SIMPLE CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY VALUED AT $700. BRAND IS IN NEW ORLEANS TO FILM AN UNTITLED MOVIE. POLICE SPOKESWOMAN REMI BRADEN ON THURSDAY COULD NOT IMMEDIATELY RELEASE DETAILS OF WHAT HAPPENED MONDAY. BUT, CELEBRITY WEBSITE TMZ SAID THE CHARGES STEM FROM A CONFRONTATION WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO WAS TRYING TO TAKE BRAND'S PHOTO FROM A CAR. IN A TWITTER POSTING ON WEDNESDAY, BRAND WROTE, "SINCE STEVE JOBS DIED I CANNOT BEAR TO SEE ANYONE USE AN IPHONE IRREVERENTLY, WHAT I DID WAS A TRIBUTE TO HIS MEMORY."
NEITHER BRAND NOR HIS PUBLICIST COULD IMMEDIATELY BE REACHED FOR COMMENT.

THE LOUISIANA GAMING CONTROL BOARD WILL VOTE IN JULY ON WHETHER AMERISTAR CASINOS INC. CAN ACQUIRE A RIVERBOAT CASINO RESORT PROJECT UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN LAKE CHARLES. AMERISTAR HAS AGREED TO BUY THE UNCOMPLETED PROJECT FROM CREATIVE CASINOS OF LOUISIANA LLC FOR $32.5 MILLION. ON THURSDAY, THE BOARD APPROVED AMERISTAR'S PROPOSAL TO RAISE THE PROJECT'S MINIMUM INVESTMENT FROM $400 MILLION TO $500 MILLION. SINCE LAS VEGAS-BASED AMERISTAR DOES NOT CURRENTLY HAVE A LOUISIANA CASINO LICENSE, THE COMPANY WILL UNDERGO A STANDARD BACKGROUND AND FINANCIAL CHECK. AMERISTAR HAS EIGHT CASINO-HOTELS AND OPERATES IN MISSISSIPPI, COLORADO, IOWA, INDIANA, NEVADA AND MISSOURI. THE LAKE CHARLES PLAN CALLS FOR A FLOATING CASINO, A 700-ROOM HOTEL AND AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE ON PROPERTY LEASED FROM THE PORT OF LAKE CHARLES.

SPORTS..

THREE LSU MEN'S COACHES AND THE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ARE GIVING $4,000 SO LSU STUDENTS DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR TICKETS TO THE NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. LEAGUE RULES DON'T ALLOW COMPLIMENTARY STUDENT ADMISSION TO TOURNAMENTS. SO FOOTBALL COACH LES MILES, BASKETBALL COACH TRENT JOHNSON AND BASEBALL COACH PAUL MAINIERI ARE GIVING $1,000 EACH TO BUY STUDENT TICKETS. SO IS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA. THAT'S ENOUGH FOR 800 STUDENT TICKETS TO THE GAMES SUNDAY AND TUESDAY AT THE MARAVICH ASSEMBLY CENTER. SPOKESMAN MICHAEL BONNETTE SAYS NOBODY WITH AN LSU STUDENT ID WILL BE TURNED AWAY.



News For Thursday 03/15/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 031512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN HANDLING OUTSOURCED TASKS FOR OTHER COMPANIES SAYS IT WILL OPEN A CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER IN ALEXANDRIA EVENTUALLY EMPLOYING 600 PEOPLE. ROCHESTER, N.Y.-BASED SUTHERLAND GLOBAL SERVICES INC. SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IT WOULD SPEND $2.9 MILLION TO REMODEL AN EXISTING 40,000-SQUARE-FOOT, FORMER STAR-TEK BUILDING. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SAID THE JOBS WILL AVERAGE $27,000 PER YEAR. CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN IN MARCH AND THE COMPANY HAS SCHEDULED MAY FOR THE START OF OPERATIONS, INITIALLY WITH 290 EMPLOYEES. . HIRING WILL BEGIN IN APRIL. THE COMPANY EMPLOYS 33,000 PEOPLE WORLDWIDE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL BEGAN THE DEBATE YESTERDAY ON HIS EDUCATION REFORM PLAN BY TESTIFYING BEFORE THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE PANEL IS DISCUSSING THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL TO EXPAND A VOUCHER PROGRAM STATEWIDE AND ANOTHER MEASURE WOULD REVAMP TEACHER TENURE LAWS. JINDAL STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE BILLS DURING HIS TESTIMONY. BUT, AMITE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BEL EDWARDS SAYS JINDAL'S STATEWIDE VOUCHER PLAN IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL, BECAUSE IT USES DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S PUBLIC EDUCATION FUND TO PAY FOR A STUDENT'S TUITION AT A PRIVATE SCHOOL. THE GOVERNOR DISAGREED. WHILE THAT WAS GOING ON HUNDREDS OF TEACHERS FROM ACROSS THE STATE WERE ON THE STEPS OF THE STATE CAPITOL TO PROTEST THE GOVERNOR’S PLAN.

US SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAID YESTERDAY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S FAST-TRACK PUSH FOR HIS EDUCATION OVERHAUL BILLS IS ILL-ADVISED AND WRONG, GIVING EVEN SUPPORTERS OF THE PROPOSALS TOO LITTLE TIME TO REVIEW THE DETAILS LANDRIEU WENT ON TO SAY SHE SUPPORTS THE NEED FOR REFORMS. BUT, "IF THIS IS SUCH A GREAT REFORM PACKAGE, IT SHOULD BE ABLE TO STAND THE TEST OF REVIEW. THE SENATOR FINISHED THE INTERVIEW BY ADDING, “THIS IS A DEMOCRACY, NOT A DICTATORSHIP,"

THERE’S NO DOUBT, IT’S THE GOVERNOR’S WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. LOUISIANA HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY STRIPPED A BOGALUSA REP. HAROLD RITCHIE OF A COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRMANSHIP WEDNESDAY. RITCHIE A DEMOCRAT, LOST HIS POST ON THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INSURANCE. THE MOVE BY KLECKLEY CAME A DAY AFTER RITCHIE VOTED AGAINST LEGISLATION PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL INVOLVING A TAX REBATE FOR THOSE WHO DONATE MONEY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS TO PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE APPROVED THE LEGISLATION ON TUESDAY.

JUST A REMINDER, AS TIME IS RUNNING OUT.. EARLY VOTING FOR THE MARCH 24 PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ELECTIONS AND LOCAL ELECTIONS -- INCLUDING MAYORAL RACES IN NATCHITOCHES, FERRIDAY AND FOUR OTHER CENLA MUNICIPALITIES -- CONTINUES THROUGH SATURDAY. EARLY VOTING TAKES PLACE IN PARISH REGISTRARS OF VOTERS' OFFICES FROM 8:30 A.M. TO 6 P.M.

THE PINEVILLE CITY COUNCIL HAS APPROVED A RESOLUTION GIVING THE GO AHEAD TO PURCHASE TWO PIECES OF VACANT LAND NEAR THE GILLIS LONG BRIDGE, ALSO KNOWN AS THE JACKSON STREET BRIDGE. THE TWO VACANT LOTS, ONE ON EACH SIDE OF THE BRIDGE, FRONT RIVERSIDE DRIVE AND ABUT THE RED RIVER LEVEE. MAYOR FIELDS SAID THE LOTS HAVE BEEN USED IN THE PAST IN CONJUNCTION WITH CITY EVENTS ON THE RIVERFRONT, AND HE BELIEVES THEY ARE KEY TO SOME OF THE PLANS CITY PLANNERS HAVE IN PLACE FOR THAT AREA. NO SPECIFIC DETAILS ARE AVAILABLE YET.

RAPIDES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER CEO DAVID WILLIAMS SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE HOSPITAL HAS BEEN DESIGNATED AS A LEVEL II TRAUMA CENTER, AND IT IS ONE OF ONLY TWO IN THE STATE. THE PROCESS TO REACH LEVEL II STATUS BEGAN TWO YEARS AGO.

THE BATON ROUGE METRO AREA RANKS NO. 1 IN THE NATION IN ITS RATE OF AIDS CASES AFTER RANKING SECOND THE PAST TWO YEARS, ACCORDING TO 2010 DATA RELEASED WEDNESDAY BY THE FEDERAL CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION.
BATON ROUGE HAS A RATE OF 33.7, WHICH MEANS 33 OUT OF EVERY 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE AIDS. MIAMI IS SECOND WITH A RATE OF 30.3; JACKSON, MISS., IS THIRD WITH A RATE OF 29.2; AND BALTIMORE IS FOURTH WITH A RATE OF 26.8. THE NEW ORLEANS METRO AREA IS FIFTH WITH A RATE OF 26.2.

FORMER PORT ALLEN POLICE CHIEF FRED SMITH HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 7 ½ YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON AFTER BEING CONVICTED IN OCTOBER ON 11 FEDERAL CHARGES OF RACKETEERING, MAIL FRAUD, WIRE FRAUD AND USE OF A TELEPHONE IN AID OF RACKETEERING. SMITH WAS ALSO FINED $17,000 AND ORDERED TO REPORT TO PRISON BY APRIL 16.

THE LOUISIANA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY IS 10 DAYS AWAY AND REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES HAVE DESCENDED ON THE STATE COURTING VOTES FOR THE MARCH 24TH BALLOT. POLITICAL ANALYST BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS, IN SPITE OF ALL THE NATIONAL ATTENTION, HE DOESN'T EXPECT A LARGE TURNOUT. PINSONAT BELIEVES A MORE MODERATE CANDIDATE LIKE MITT ROMNEY WILL HAVE A HARD TIME CARRYING LOUISIANA. HE SAYS A LIGHT TURNOUT WILL FAVOR CANDIDATES WHO APPEAL TO MORE MOTIVATED, ISSUE DRIVEN VOTERS. THIS ELECTION IS UNUSUAL IN THAT WITH THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION STILL UP FOR GRABS - AND WITH ONLY A HANDFULL OF STATE PRIMARIES REMAINING, THE LOUISIANA PRIMARY MATTERS TO MOST OF THE CANDIDATES. PINSONAT SAYS THAT WINNING LOUISIANA IS MOSTLY FOR BRAGGING RIGHTS; NOT DELEGATE COUNTS.

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD SEND MOST OF ANY FEDERAL FINES BP PAYS FOR THE 2010 GULF OIL SPILL TO GULF COAST STATES IS A STEP CLOSER TO PASSAGE. THE SO-CALLED RESTORE ACT IS AN AMENDMENT TO A KEY TRANSPORTATION BILL THAT PASSED THE U.S. SENATE WEDNESDAY. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAYS SHE HAS HIGH HOPES THE BILL WILL QUICKLY PASS THE U.S. HOUSE. BP COULD BE FINED UP TO $20-BILLION FOR VIOLATING THE FEDERAL CLEAN WATER ACT WITH THE GULF OIL SPIL. THE RESTORE ACT WOULD DEDICATE 80% OF THOSE FINES TO LOUISIANA AND GULF COAST NEIGHBORS IMPACTED BY THE SPILL.

THE 33-STORY-HIGH WORLD TRADE CENTER BUILDING ON THE NEW ORLEANS RIVERFRONT IS NOW OWNED BY THE CITY. IN A $2.3 MILLION DEAL, THE CITY SAYS IT HAS BOUGHT OUT THE LEASE FOR THE BUILDING AND THAT IT NOW HAS CONTROL OVER THE REDEVELOPMENT OF THE VACANT 670,000-SQUARE FOOT OFFICE TOWER AND SITE. MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU SAYS REDEVELOPING THE BUILDING IS A HIGH PRIORITY. HE SAYS THE PROPERTY HAS UNDERPERFORMED FOR TOO LONG. BEFORE AGREEING TO TAKE OVER THE BUILDING, THE CITY GOT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER TO REPAIR CONCRETE SOFFITS THAT BROKE OFF AND FELL 400 FEET TO THE GROUND. THE CITY SAYS IT IS ASKING DEVELOPERS TO COME UP WITH IDEAS ON WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE BUILDING.






SPORTS..

SAINTS QUARTERBACK DREW BREES SPEAKS OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE TEAM PLACED HIM UNDER THE FRANCHISE TAG. BREES MADE IT CLEAR ON ESPN 1410’S MIKE AND MIKE SHOW YESTERDAY HE DOESN'T WANT TO START THE SEASON WITH THE ONE-YEAR FRANCHISE TAG IN PLACE. THE SAINTS PLACED THE ONE-YEAR FRANCHISE TAG ON BREES EARLIER THIS MONTH. HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK WITH ANY OTHER TEAMS, BUT THE SAINTS CAN STILL TALK TO BREES ABOUT A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT UNTIL JULY 16TH. BREES SAYS MANY FANS FEEL THAT WORKING OUT A NEW DEAL WITH THE SAINTS IS A CLEAR CUT, SIMPLE ISSUE. HE SAYS THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

THE PRICE TO PARK ON CAMPUS FOR LSU FOOTBALL GAMES IS GOING UP FOR SOME SEASON TICKET HOLDERS. LSU ASSOCIATE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS PARKING PASSES WILL NEARLY DOUBLE FOR ONE AREA, BUT 93-PERCENT OF THE PAID SPOTS ON CAMPUS WILL REMAIN THE SAME. VINCENT SAYS RAISING REVENUES FOR PARKING HELP KEEP TICKET PRICES DOWN. SEASON TICKET HOLDERS HAVE UNTIL THE END OF MARCH TO RESERVE PASSES FOR THE NEW AREAS FOR THE 2012 SEASON. COSTS WILL RANGE FROM 75 TO 100- DOLLARS PER GAME FOR CARS AND FROM 250 TO 500-DOLLARS FOR RVS. SOME FANS COMPLAIN THE HIGHER COSTS WILL HURT THE TAILGATING TRADITION AT LSU VINCENT DOESN'T BELIEVE THE HIGHER COSTS WILL HAVE MUCH OF AN IMPACT.

News For Wednesday 03/14/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 031412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TEXAS-BASED VIRTUAL ENGINEERING OPERATIONS PLANS TO BUILD A REFINERY AT THE OLD ARIZONA CHEMICAL PLANT SITE JUST WEST OF OAKDALE. THE ALLEN PARISH POLICE JURY RECENTLY AGREED TO LEASE THE PARISH-OWNED PROPERTY TO THE COMPANY WHICH IS BASED IN KINGWOOD, TEXAS. CONSTRUCTION OF THE FACILITY SHOULD BEGIN IN JULY AND TAKE 18 MONTHS TO COMPLETE. A COMPANY OFFICIAL SAYS THE REFINERY WILL PROCESS 20,000 BARRELS OF CRUDE OIL PER DAY, PRODUCING DIESEL, JET FUEL AND HEATING OIL.
IT WILL PROVIDE ABOUT 50 FULL-TIME JOBS. MANY OF THOSE JOBS, INCLUDING REFINERY OPERATORS AND OFFICE STAFF, WILL HAVE AVERAGE SALARIES OF $100,000 PER YEAR.
AN ADDITIONAL 140 JOBS COULD BE CREATED FROM SPINOFF BUSINESSES AND FUTURE CONSTRUCTION FOR PHASE 2 OF THE PROJECT.

WE’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE. BUT, THIS TIME IT LOOKS LIKE IT WILL HAPPEN. JENA BAND OF CHOCTAW INDIANS SAYS PLANS FOR THEIR CASINO ARE FINALIZED, AND TRIBAL LEADERS HOPE A CASINO WILL BE OPEN BY THE END OF THIS YEAR IN CREOLA IN SOUTH GRANT PARISH. SMITH SAID THE TRIBE SECURED ALL OF ITS FEDERAL APPROVALS AND SIGNED LOAN DOCUMENTS LAST WEEK, ALLOWING THE TRIBE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH ITS PLANS.
THE TRIBE WILL BUILD THEIR CLASS II CASINO ON A PIECE OF LAND OFF U.S. HIGHWAY 167. CONSTRUCTION COULD START AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK. A CLASS II CASINO CAN HAVE POKER TABLES AND GAMING MACHINES, BUT NOT GAMBLING TABLES. THE CASINO WILL EMPLOY CLOSE TO 300 PEOPLE, MOST OF WHICH WILL BE MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL, ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY AND OFFICIALS FROM LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE ARE EXPECTED TO BE ON HAND TODAY TO WELCOME A NEW EMPLOYER TO THE AREA. THE ANNOUNCEMENT, WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE AT 1:30 P.M. TODAY AT THE FORMER JAKES BUILDING ON WIMBLEDON DRIVE, IS EXPECTED TO BE THAT NEW CALL CENTER WILL BE MOVING IN.

A BALL MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH THE MARCH 6 ROBBERY OF THE CAPITAL 1 BANK BRANCH IN BALL. STEPHEN PAUL KENT WAS ARRESTED YESTERDAY.
KENT WAS BOOKED INTO THE RAPIDES PARISH JAIL ON CHARGES OF SIMPLE ROBBERY AND DRUG POSSESSION.

ABOUT 45 STUDENTS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AT LACROSSE HAVE CHOSEN TO "PAY IT FORWARD" DURING THEIR SPRING BREAK BY VOLUNTEERING TO HELP WITH PROJECTS AT THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO. THE STUDENTS ARE MEMBERS OF STUDENTS TODAY LEADERS FOREVER, A NONPROFIT, STUDENT-LED ORGANIZATION THAT FOCUSES ON SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. THE STUDENTS HAVE BEEN WEEDING BEDS, PREPARING EXHIBITS FOR ANIMALS THAT WERE MOVED DURING THE WINTER, CLEANING OUT GUTTERS, HANGING SHEETROCK AND RAKING AND MULCHING.


SOME LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS ARE CANCELING A DAY OF CLASSES AS TEACHERS PREPARE TO HEAD FOR THE STATE CAPITOL, WHERE BATTLES ARE BREWING OVER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION PROPOSALS. THE EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOL SYSTEM SAID ITS SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TODAY AFTER A HIGHER THAN NORMAL NUMBER OF TEACHERS SAID THEY WOULD BE ABSENT. VERMILION PARISH AND ST. MARTIN PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TOMORROW. HEARINGS ARE SET WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AT THE CAPITOL ON BILLS THAT WOULD EXPAND A STATE-FINANCED PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION PROGRAM, MAKE IT EASIER FOR PRIVATE GROUPS TO RUN PUBLIC "CHARTER" SCHOOLS, AND MAKE CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE PRACTICES.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY AFTER SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS DUMPED UP TO 15 INCHES OF RAIN IN SOME AREAS, FORCING HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES FROM THEIR HOMES. THE DECLARATION ALLOWS STATE AGENCIES TO RESPOND TO REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND ALLOWS FOR FEDERAL AGENCIES AND FEDERAL RESOURCES TO BE DEPLOYED. JINDAL'S STATEWIDE PROCLAMATION TUESDAY IS EFFECTIVE THROUGH APRIL 12, UNLESS TERMINATED SOONER.
FAMILIES IN LAFAYETTE, ST. MARTIN, VERMILION AND ACADIA PARISHES ARE CLEANING UP AFTER STORMS HIT THEM ON MONDAY AND OUACHITA PARISH RESIDENTS ARE DOING THE SAME AFTER A DELUGE SWAMPED SEVERAL AREAS OF MONROE A DAY EARLIER.

LOUISIANA GAINED 7,800 NON-FARM PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS IN JANUARY. THE STATE LABOR DEPARTMENT RELEASED THE LATEST EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS TUESDAY AFTERNOON.
IN ADDITION TO THE ONE-MONTH GAIN, THE STATE ADDED 39,900 PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS OVER THE PAST YEAR. THAT MARKED THE 20TH CONSECUTIVE MONTH OF YEAR-TO-YEAR GROWTH, THE DEPARTMENT SAID. THE REPORT SAID THAT THE LAFAYETTE METROPOLITAN AREA HAD THE LARGEST JOB GROWTH OVER THE YEAR. ALEXANDRIA WAS THE ONLY MSA TO POST A DECLINE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS WITH LOSSES TOTALING 1,100 NONFARM JOBS.

A PROPOSAL TO GIVE A DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR STATE TAX REBATE TO PEOPLE WHO DONATE MONEY TO A NONPROFIT THAT GIVES OUT GRANTS OR SCHOLARSHIPS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS WON APPROVAL TUESDAY FROM A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILL BY REP. KIRK TALBOT IS THE FIRST PIECE OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION PACKAGE TO GAIN COMMITTEE BACKING AND HEAD TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE VOTED 15-4 FOR THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 969). TALBOT SAID THE PROPOSAL WAS MODELED ON A FLORIDA PROGRAM. ACCORDING TO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION, NEARLY 38,000 STUDENTS ARE GOING TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS THROUGH THAT PROGRAM.

HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY SAID TUESDAY THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS TO REVAMP PENSIONS FOR THOUSANDS OF RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS ARE ON TRACK FOR DEBATE NEXT WEEK. THE BILLS ARE AMONG GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PRIORITIES FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, AND THEY'RE SET FOR A QUICKER HEARING THEN SUCH CONTROVERSIAL MEASURES USUALLY GET IN SESSION. KLECKLEY SAID THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE IS PLANNING TO GIVE THE PROPOSALS A HEARING NEXT WEEK, SIMILAR TO A PLAN FOR THE COMPANION SENATE COMMITTEE. THE HOUSE SPEAKER SAID THE HOUSE WANTS TO MAKE A DECISION ON THE RETIREMENT PROPOSALS BEFORE CRAFTING ITS VERSION OF NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET, BECAUSE JINDAL'S SPENDING PLANS ASSUME SAVINGS FROM THE RETIREMENT CHANGES. IF THOSE CHANGES DON'T PASS, OR IF THEY ARE SCALED BACK, THAT WOULD CREATE A HOLE IN THE BUDGET.

IT WAS A HECK OF A PARTY.. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SPENT ABOUT $379,000 ON HIS INAUGURAL EVENTS IN JANUARY. THE SPENDING, FILED IN AN EXPENSE REPORT WITH THE LOUISIANA ETHICS ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM, CAME FROM JINDAL'S CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT, WHICH CONTAINS NEARLY $4 MILLION AFTER TALLYING HIS ELECTION AND INAUGURATION EXPENSES. JINDAL'S INAUGURATION INCLUDED THE BALL, THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY AT THE OLD STATE CAPITOL AND THE LEGISLATIVE LUNCH.

A STATEWIDE POLL FROM W-W-L T-V IN NEW ORLEANS SHOWS RICK SANTORUM WITH A SLIGHT LEAD OVER TWO OTHER CANDIDATES FOR THE MARCH 24TH LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. THE POLL OF 515 LIKELY G-O-P VOTERS WAS CONDUCTED BY G-C-R AND ASSOCIATES. IN THE POLL, SANTORUM RECEIVED 25-PERCENT OF THE VOTE, ROMNEY AND GINGRICH HAD 21 AND 20-PERCENT. RON PAUL FINISHED A DISTANT FOURTH PLACE. ACCORDING TO THE POLL, 26-PERCENT OF REPUBLICAN VOTERS IN LOUISIANA ARE UNDECIDED.

THE STATE'S LATEST MILLIONAIRE IS A 71-YEAR-OLD BATON ROUGE GRANDMOTHER OF FIVE. THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY SAYS ANNE ARIKOL WON A $1 MILLION LOUISIANA LOTTO JACKPOT AND SAYS SHE PLANS TO SPEND SOME OF THE WINNINGS ON COLLEGE TUITION FOR HER GRANDCHILDREN.

THE LAFAYETTE PARISH DA'S OFFICE HAS DROPPED A DOMESTIC ABUSE BATTERY CHARGE AGAINST NEW ORLEANS SAINTS DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH. THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE CHARGES WERE DISMISSED AFTER SMITH COMPLETED DOZENS OF HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE AND GOT COUNSELING.

A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND FACES SEVERAL CHARGES AFTER AUTHORITIES FOUND HIM IN POSSESSION OF A WEAPON AND ALCOHOL AT A SHREVEPORT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. THE SHREVEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS THE JUVENILE WAS ARRESTED TUESDAY AFTER SCHOOL OFFICIALS AT WERNER PARK ELEMENTARY NOTIFIED POLICE THAT THE STUDENT HAD A BB GUN AND WHAT APPEARED TO BE AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN A BACK PACK. DETECTIVES SAY THE BOY WAS ALSO SEEN POINT THE GUN AT ANOTHER CHILD.

SPORTS..

SAINTS FANS ARE CELEBRATING THE SIGNING OF STAR WIDE RECEIVER MARQUES COLSTON TO A FIVE YEAR, 40-MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT. COLSTON WAS ONE OF SEVERAL PLAYERS FLIRTING WITH THE FREE AGENT MARKET. OFFENSIVE LINEMAN CARL NICKS WAS CONSIDERED A PRIME CANDIDATE FOR THE FRANCHISE TAG BEFORE THAT DESIGNATION WENT TO QUARTERBACK DREW BREES. SAINTS RADIO COLOR ANALYST, HOKIE GAJAN BELIEVES SIGNING COLSTON WAS A BIGGER PRIORITY THAN SIGNING NICKS. THE SAINTS ARE NOW FOCUSED ON SIGNING THEIR OTHER FREE AGENT PLAYERS.

THE 10TH RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM HAS ITS FINAL TUNE-UP TONIGHT BEFORE SEC PLAY BEGINS THIS WEEKEND AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE. TIGERS COACH PAUL MAINIERI SAYS THE PLAN IS TO START FRESHMAN AARON NOLA ON THE MOUND.


News For Tuesday 03/13/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 031312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AUTHORITIES DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY MONDAY IN AN AREA OF SOUTHERN LOUISIANA AFTER FLOODWATERS FROM HEAVY OVERNIGHT THUNDERSTORMS INUNDATED DOZENS OF HOMES. NO DEATHS OR INJURIES WERE IMMEDIATELY REPORTED. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE IN LAFAYETTE PARISH, WHERE HEAVY RAINS OCCURRED, HAS URGED PEOPLE TO LEAVE DOZENS OF HOMES IN AND AROUND THE COMMUNITY OF CARENCRO.
RADAR INDICATED SOME AREAS SAW UP TO 19 INCHES OF RAIN, LEAVING WATER WAIST-DEEP ON SOME STREETS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL GAVE A ROUSING 26 MINUTE ADDRESS, TO OPEN THE 2012 STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. MR. JINDAL STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION...AND CITED PROPOSALS TO EXPAND PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS, INCREASE THE NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOLS AND REFORM TEACHER TENURE. JINDAL SAYS PARTY PHILOSOPHIES SHOULD STAY OUT OF THE EDUCATION REFORM DEBATE.

MEMBERS OF THE STATE'S DEMOCRATIC AND BLACK LEGISLATIVE CAUCUSES RESPOND NEGATIVELY TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S OPENING ADDRESS TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE. DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS LEADER REP. JOHN BEL EDWARDS, OF AMITE, SAYS THE GOVERNOR'S $25-BILLION BUDGET PROPOSAL RELIES TOO HEAVILY ON PASSING CONTINGENCY LEGISLATION TO BRING THE BUDGET INTO BALANCE. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH CHAIRS THE LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS, A GROUP OPPOSED TO JINDAL'S PLANS TO EXPAND PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS TO ELIGIBLE STUDENTS STATEWIDE. SHE SAYS THE PLAN THREATENS THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE DEMOCRATS VOW TO FIGHT JINDAL'S PROPOSALS AS THE SESSION UNFOLDS.

STATE SENATORS ARE GETTING THEIR FIRST IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR CLOSING AN $895 MILLION SHORTFALL NEXT YEAR. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S 2012-13 SPENDING PLANS INVOLVE THE HIRING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES TO HANDLE MORE STATE SERVICES, THE LAYOFF OF UP TO 2,700 STATE WORKERS AND THE SHRINKING OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR STATE EMPLOYEES. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE WILL BEGIN DISCUSSING THE PROPOSALS TUESDAY. MEANWHILE, THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO DELVE INTO THE DETAILS OF THE GOVERNOR'S COST-CUTTING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS. JINDAL PROPOSES SELLING A STATE PRISON IN AVOYELLES PARISH. STATE PRISONS IN PINEVILLE AND KEITHVILLE WOULD BE SHUTTERED

IT HAS BEEN A LONG YEAR FOR RESIDENTS, BUT THE RIGOLETTE ROAD BRIDGE IS OPEN AGAIN. THE BRIDGE WAS CLOSED AFTER BEING BADLY DAMAGED IN A FIRE LAST APRIL. A RIBBON CUTTING WAS HELD MONDAY MORNING FOR THE NEW BRIDGE. NOW WHILE THE OLD WAS MADE OF WOOD AND WAS SEVERELY DAMAGED DURING A FIRE LAST YEAR, THE NEW BRIDGE IS CONCRETE.. THE NEW BRIDGE COST JUST UNDER $900,000 WITH THE STATE PICKING UP THE BULK OF THE COST.

JUST A REMINDER.. EARLY VOTING FOR THE MARCH 24 PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ELECTIONS AND LOCAL ELECTIONS, CONTINUES THROUGH SATURDAY IN PARISH REGISTRARS OF VOTERS' OFFICES ACROSS THE STATE. HOURS FOR EARLY VOTING AT THE RAPIDES PARISH REGISTRAR'S OFFICE ARE 8:30 A.M. TO 6 P.M.

AN AVOYELLES PARISH WOMAN SUFFERED LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES LAST WEEK AFTER SHE ALLEGEDLY WAS BEATEN BY HER BOYFRIEND AND HER SON OVER A PERIOD OF DAYS.
AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF DOUG ANDERSON SAID INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE THAT THE 47-YEAR-OLD VICTIM SUFFERED LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES AFTER SHE WAS BEATEN BY HER BOYFRIEND, 60-YEAR-OLD BOBBY ROSZELL SR., AND HER SON, 18-YEAR-OLD HAVEN WILEY, WHO BOTH WITH THE VICTIM. THE SHERIFF SAYS SHE WAS BEATEN OVER A PERIOD OF DAYS AND WAS UNABLE TO CALL SOMEONE FOR HELP. ROSZELL AND WILEY BOTH WERE CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER, FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY. THEY WERE BOOKED INTO THE AVOYELLES DETENTION CENTER, WHERE THEY REMAIN IN LIEU OF $100,000 BOND.

THE CANE RIVER HAS BEEN CLOSED TO ALL BOATING TRAFFIC BECAUSE OF HIGH WATER.
BETTY FULLER, THE SPOKESWOMAN FOR CANE RIVER PATROL, SAID ON MONDAY AFTERNOON THAT THE WATER LEVELS ON THE LAKE WERE 101 FEET ABOVE MEAN SEA LEVEL, AND THE LAKE WOULD NOT REOPEN UNTIL THE WATER LEVEL DROPS TO 98.5 FEET AND FALLING. WITH THE AMOUNT OF RAIN IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, THAT COULD TAKE A WHILE.

THE $2,536 AVERAGE COST TO INSURE A CAR IN LOUISIANA, THE HIGHEST-COST STATE, IS NEARLY THREE TIMES THE $889 AVERAGE COST IN MAINE, THE LOWEST-COST STATE, ACCORDING TO A STUDY BY THE WEBSITE WWW.INSURE.COM. THE STUDY SITES SEVERAL FACTORS THAT DRIVE UP INSURANCE COSTS, INCLUDING A HIGH NUMBER OF UNINSURED DRIVERS, STATE INSURANCE LAWS, HOW MANY INSURERS COMPETE IN THE STATE AND WHETHER RECENT NATURAL DISASTERS HAVE PUSHED UP CLAIMS.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RICK SANTORUM IS PLANNING A RALLY TODAY IN LAFAYETTE, AS GOP CANDIDATES START LINING UP VISITS TO LOUISIANA AS THE STATE'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY DRAWS NEAR. REPUBLICAN PARTY OF LOUISIANA CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS SANTORUM IS HOLDING A FUNDRAISER AND THE EVENING RALLY TODAY. VILLERE SAYS NEWT GINGRICH AND MITT ROMNEY ALSO ARE EXPECTED TO MAKE CAMPAIGN STOPS IN LOUISIANA BEFORE THE MARCH 24 PRIMARY. HE SAYS RON PAUL HASN'T CONFIRMED ANY PLANNED VISITS SO FAR.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON AND COACH SEAN PAYTON HAVE MET WITH NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL, WHO WILL DECIDE THE TEAM'S PUNISHMENT FOR ITS BOUNTY PROGRAM FROM 2009-11. THE SAINTS SAID BENSON AND PAYTON REQUESTED MONDAY'S MEETING WITH GOODELL. FORMER SAINTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREGG WILLIAMS, WHO IS NOW WITH THE ST. LOUIS RAMS, MET LAST WEEK WITH NFL INVESTIGATORS LOOKING INTO THE BOUNTY SYSTEM HE RAN IN NEW ORLEANS.
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN PAYOFFS WENT TO PLAYERS FOR HITS THAT KNOCKED TARGETED OPPONENTS OUT OF GAMES. THE NFL SAID THE AMOUNTS REACHED THEIR HEIGHT IN 2009, THE SEASON THE SAINTS WON THE SUPER BOWL. PUNISHMENTS COULD INCLUDE SUSPENSIONS, FINES AND LOSS OF DRAFT PICKS.

GAS PRICES HAVE LEVELED OFF BUT THEY'RE STILL EXPECTED TO RISE AS WE GET CLOSER TO SUMMER. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE IS $3.62 AND DON REDMAN FROM THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION SAYS IT'S AN EARLY PROJECTION, BUT GAS PRICES COULD BE CLOSE TO $4 THIS SUMMER.

TWO SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR TERRORIZING AFTER THEY MADE A POST ON FACEBOOK SAYING THEY WERE GOING TO SHOOT UP THE SCHOOL. LIVINGSTON PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY A CONCERNED PARTY CONTACTED THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE REGARDING THE POST AND BOTH TEENAGERS WERE ARRESTED SUNDAY.

RICK SEATON, A FORMER TOP AIDE TO SHREVEPORT MAYOR CEDRIC GLOVER, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HIS CONVICTION ON CHARGES OF FORCIBLE RAPE AND ABUSE OF OFFICE. THREE OF THOSE YEARS ARE TO BE SERVED WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE OR PROBATION. SEATON PLEADED NOT GUILTY AND CHOSE A BENCH TRIAL BEFORE STATE DISTRICT JUDGE RAMONA EMANUEL INSTEAD OF A JURY TRIAL. EMANUEL FOUND HIM GUILTY OF RAPING AN 18-YEAR-OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT FROM FLORIDA ON A COUCH AT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE AFTER THE 2010 INDEPENDENCE BOWL.




SPORTS..

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAYS THE CLUB HAS AGREED TO TERMS ON A ONE-YEAR CONTRACT WITH BACKUP QUARTERBACK AND PLACE HOLDER CHASE DANIEL. DANIEL, A FORMER HEISMAN TROPHY FINALIST WITH MISSOURI, HAS BEEN WITH THE SAINTS SINCE 2009 AND HAS BEEN DREW BREES' BACKUP SINCE 2010.

News For Monday 03/12/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 031212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION OPENS TODAY WITH FIGHTS WELL UNDERWAY OVER JOB PROTECTIONS FOR TEACHERS, PENSION BENEFITS FOR STATE EMPLOYEES AND THE USE OF STATE TAX DOLLARS FOR NON-PUBLIC SCHOOLS. AND THAT'S NOT EVEN COUNTING THE BATTLES OVER NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET AND SERVICES ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK. LAWMAKERS CONVENE AT NOON, AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS SCHEDULED TO SPEAK AN HOUR LATER TO THE HOUSE AND SENATE. JINDAL'S PUSHING LARGE CHANGES TO TEACHER PAY AND EDUCATION FUNDING, AND HE'S PROPOSING TO SHRINK RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR THOUSANDS OF STATE WORKERS. MEANWHILE, LAWMAKERS ARE PROPOSING TO REVISIT ANNUAL FIGHTS OVER CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING, TEACHING SEX EDUCATION IN CLASSES, ABORTION RESTRICTIONS AND MANDATORY DRUG TESTING FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS. THE SESSION MUST END BY JUNE 4.

MORE THAN 100 LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA HAVE ENDORSED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PLAN FOR REFORMING EDUCATION. IN A JOINT STATEMENT, THE ELECTED OFFICIALS SAID, "THE STATUS QUO IS FAILING FAR TOO MANY OF OUR KIDS, AND IT'S CLEAR THAT OUR STATE MUST BETTER PREPARE OUR KIDS FOR SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM AND IN LIFE. THE STATEMENT ALSO ASKED REPRESENTATIVES IN THE STATE HOUSE AND STATE SENATE TO JOIN IN SUPPORTING GOV. JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORM PROPOSALS. THE LIST OF OFFICIALS IS MADE UP OF COUNCIL AND ALDERMEN, SOME SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND THE MAYORS OF SEVERAL TOWNS AND VILLAGES. ABSENT FROM THE LIST, THE MAYORS OF ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE, PLUS MOST OTHER MAYORS FROM ACROSS CENLA.

A MISSISSIPPI REAL ESTATE COMPANY IS OFFERING A STORIED LOUISIANA HOTEL FOR $6.5 MILLION, 'AS IS.' PAUL GREEN & ASSOCIATES OF NATCHEZ SAY THE 140,000-SQUARE-FOOT HOTEL WILL NEED RENOVATION. THE FIRM'S WEBSITE SAYS THE HOTEL HAS 172 ROOMS, INCLUDING 13 DELUXE SUITES. THE HOTEL WAS BUILT IN 1908 BY SAWMILL OWNER JOSEPH BENTLEY, THE FIRST PERSON IN ALEXANDRIA TO OWN AN AUTOMOBILE. WHEN IT OPENED, IT HAD A FULL-SERVICE BARBERSHOP, PRINTING PRESS, RESTAURANT, TELEGRAPH OFFICES AND OTHER BUSINESSES. THE MARBLE CAME FROM VERMONT, AND THE BUILDING HAD ITS OWN POWER AND REFRIGERATING SYSTEMS. IT HAS BEEN CLOSED SINCE DECEMBER 2004.

WE NOTE THE PASSING OF WILLIAM KUSHNER. A FAMILIAR NAME TO MANY HERE IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. KUSHNER CONDUCTED THE RAPIDES SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA FOR 34 YEARS. A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY REPORTS KUSHNER DIED SUNDAY. SERVICES WILL BE WEDNESDAY IN LAKE CHARLES, WITH ARRANGEMENTS TO BE ANNOUNCED BY HIXSON OF LAKE CHARLES. KUSHNER RETIRED AS RAPIDES SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR IN 2002.

AS A NEW STATE LEGISLATURE CONVENES IN BATON ROUGE TODAY. GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS BEEN PROMOTING HIS AGENDA FOR THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS, BUT WILL STATE LAWMAKERS GO ALONG WITH HIS PLANS? U-L LAFAYETTE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR PEARSON CROSS FORESEES A CONTENTIOUS SESSION. THERE ARE SEVERAL ITEMS JINDAL IS SUPPORTING THAT COULD HAVE TROUBLE GETTING PASSED. THE GOVERNOR WANTS A STATEWIDE PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHER SYSTEM, HE'S PROPOSING CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE, AND HE WANTS STATE WORKERS TO PAY MORE TOWARDS THEIR OWN RETIREMENT. LEGISLATORS ARE ALSO DEALING WITH ANOTHER BUDGET DEFICIT.

STATE POLICE SAY SEPARATE WRECKS IN VERNON PARISH KILLED A 22-YEAR-OLD DRIVER AND A 21-YEAR-OLD PEDESTRIAN FROM OUT OF STATE. TROOPER DANIEL "SCOTT" MOREAU SAYS MARCI STERLING OF LEESVILLE DIED EARLY SUNDAY, WHEN SHE HIT A TREE AND WAS THROWN OUT OF HER CAR. HE SAYS THE PEDESTRIAN WAS HIT BY A CAR WHILE CROSSING U.S. HIGHWAY 171 SOUTH OF LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 1211 ABOUT 11:30 P.M. SATURDAY. THE MAN'S NAME WAS NOT RELEASED BECAUSE HIS FAMILY HAD NOT BEEN NOTIFIED. MOREAU SAYS THE DRIVER, 19-YEAR-OLD AARON BLACKWELL OF BOGALUSA, WAS BOOKED WITH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE.

WE MENTIONED LAST WEEK THAT STATE BUDGET CUTS COULD FORCE THE CLOSURE OF SEVERAL STATE MUSEUMS. WORD IS NOW, TWO OF THEM COULD BE RIGHT HERE IN CENLA, THE DELTA MUSIC MUSEUM IN FERRIDAY AND THE TIOGA HERITAGE PARK AND MUSEUM. THE ARE 17 MUSEUMS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF SEC. OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER'S OFFICE. THE PROPOSED STATE BUDGET WOULD ONLY ALLOW SCHEDLER TO KEEP THE DOORS OPEN AT THE TWO LARGEST MUSEUMS. THOSE TWO MUSEUMS WOULD BE THE OLD STATE CAPITOL IN BATON ROUGE AND THE LOUISIANA STATE EXHIBIT MUSEUM IN SHREVEPORT.

AS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF LOUISIANA 4TH & 8TH GRADE STUDENTS PREPARE TO TAKE THE HIGH-STAKES LEAP TEST NEXT WEEK, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFERS STUDY HELP WITH A LIVE TUTORING HOTLINE. SPOKESPERSON RENE GREER SAYS THE HELP BEGINS WITH PRACTICE LEAP TEST STUDY BOOKLETS THAT STUDENTS CAN GET FROM THEIR SCHOOL. GREER SAYS THE LDOE WILL HAVE LIVE TUTORS AVAILABLE ON ITS TOLL-FREE TUTORIAL HOTLINE .STARTING TONIGHT FROM 5 UNTIL 7 PM AND RUNNING NIGHTLY THROUGH MARCH 19TH. A SECOND PHASE OF THE HOTLINE WILL RUN FROM APRIL 2ND THROUGH THE 12TH. GREER SAYS THE TUTORIAL HOTLINE FOR THE LEAP IS COMPLETELY FREE, AND EACH PHASE OF THE HELP WILL FOCUS IN ON THE CORRESPONDING PHASE OF THE HIGH-STAKES TEST.

LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DAN RENEAU SAYS THE PROPOSED MERGER OF LOUISIANA TECH AND LSU-SHREVEPORT WOULD ENRICH THE STATE'S NORTHERN PARISHES. RENEAU SENT AN EMAIL ON TO LOUISIANA TECH FACULTY, STAFF AND ALUMNI, OUTLINING THE UNIVERSITY'S POSITION ON THE PROPOSED MERGER. JOINING LSU-SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH WAS RECOMMENDED IN A STUDY CONDUCTED BY THE CONSULTING FIRM EVA KLEIN AND ASSOCIATES AND SUPPORTED BY THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF REGENTS. THE LEADING RECOMMENDATION IN THE MERGER PROPOSAL IS TO CREATE A LARGER LOUISIANA TECH WITH RUSTON AND SHREVEPORT CAMPUSES UNDER THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM.

DESOTO PARISH SCHOOL OFFICIALS DON'T KNOW ANY FIGURES YET, BUT EXPECT TO HAVE TO PARE THEIR 2012-13 BUDGET FROM CURRENT SPENDING BECAUSE DRILLING IN THE HAYNESVILLE SHALE IS SLOWING DOWN. OIL AND GAS COMPANIES BEGAN ANNOUNCING CUTBACKS EARLIER THIS YEAR. PLANNERS ALWAYS SAID THE EXPLOSION OF LEASING AND DRILLING WOULD SLOW. THIS YEAR, FOUR YEARS INTO THE DRILLING, IS EXPECTED TO MARK A SIGNIFICANT TURN IN ACTIVITY. RECORD LOW NATURAL GAS PRICES BECAUSE OF AN ABUNDANT SUPPLY FROM SHALE PLAYS AND AN UNUSUALLY MILD WINTER HAVE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES MOVING TO OIL AND NATURAL GAS LIQUID PLAYS. COMPANIES ARE SLICING RIG COUNTS IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA BUT CONTINUE TO SERVICE THOUSANDS OF WELLS ALREADY DRILLED IN THE AREA.

A BELATED WELCOME HOME, WITH FOOD AND LIVE MUSIC, IS PLANNED FOR ACADIANA'S VIETNAM VETERANS. IT WILL START AT 10 A.M. ON MARCH 31, A SATURDAY, AT COMEAUX RECREATION CENTER. THE U.S. SENATE ADOPTED A RESOLUTION ABOUT A YEAR AGO DECLARING MARCH 30 AS WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS DAY. IT WAS MARCH 30, 1973, THAT U.S. COMBAT TROOPS WITHDREW FROM SOUTH VIETNAM. SAIGAN FELL TO THE NORTH VIETNAMESE IN APRIL 1975. SOLDIERS CAME HOME FROM VIETNAM TO PROTESTERS CALLING THEM LOSERS AND BABY-KILLERS.

SPORTS..

THE 11TH RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM'S EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK ENDED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON WITH A SEVEN TO ONE LOSS TO NOTRE DAME. LSU HOSTS NOTRE DAME AGAIN TONIGHT. FRESHMAN AARON NOLA IS EXPECTED TO START ON THE MOUND FOR THE TIGERS.


News For Friday 03/09/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 030912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PREPARE FOR ANOTHER RAINY WEEKEND ACROSS LOUISIANA. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE PRECIPITATION COMES VIA A COLD FRONT THAT WILL BEGIN CROSSING THE STATE TODAY. KEIM SAYS OUTDOOR PLANS WILL LIKELY HAVE TO BE PUT ON HOLD FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS, AS THE RAIN WILL BE PRETTY MUCH STATEWIDE. KEIM SAYS UP TO 4 INCHES OF RAIN COULD FALL ON PARTS OF LOUISIANA BETWEEN NOW AND MONDAY AFTERNOON.

LSU BEAT ARKANSAS YESTERDAY 70-54 IN THE OPENING ROUND OF THE SEC TOURNAMENT IN NEW ORLEANS. THE TIGERS NOW ADVANCE TO PLAY NO. 1 KENTUCKY TODAY IN A QUARTERFINAL GAME. PREGAME AT 11:30, WITH THE TIP OFF AT 12 NOON ON ESPN1410AM.

EARLY VOTING FOR THE MARCH 24 PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ELECTIONS AND LOCAL ELECTIONS, WILL BEGIN SATURDAY. EARLY VOTING, WHICH TAKES PLACE IN PARISH REGISTRARS OF VOTERS' OFFICES, WILL CONTINUE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NEXT WEEK.
HOURS FOR EARLY VOTING AT THE RAPIDES PARISH REGISTRAR'S OFFICE ARE 8:30 A.M. TO 6 P.M. EACH DAY, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF SUNDAY WHEN THE OFFICE IS CLOSED.

FORMER ALEXANDRIA CITY ATTORNEY CHARLES "CHARLIE" NUNNALLY III HAS DIED. FAMILY MEMBERS SAY NUNNALLY DIED LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT FOLLOWING A LENGTHY ILLNESS. UNERAL ARRANGEMENTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED BY JOHN KRAMER & SON. NUNNALLY SERVED AS CITY ATTORNEY FOR ABOUT 18 YEARS DURING MAYOR NED RANDOLPH'S ADMINISTRATION. CHARLIE NUNNALLY, DEAD AT THE AGE OF 62.

A FORMER VILLE PLATTE HEAD FOOTBALL COACH HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN A 2010 WRECK THAT KILLED HIS WIFE AND A WOMAN IN ANOTHER VEHICLE.
45 YEAR OLD ROY SERIE WAS SENTENCED WEDNESDAY TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON, WITH ALL BUT SEVEN YEARS SUSPENDED, AND THREE YEARS' SUPERVISED PROBATION. HE COULD HAVE FACED UP TO 30 YEARS IN JAIL. SERIE WAS ACCUSED OF HAVING MARIJUANA IN HIS SYSTEM WHEN HIS VEHICLE CROSSED THE MEDIAN AND STRUCK ANOTHER VEHICLE HEAD-ON ON U.S. HIGHWAY 165, KILLING HIS WIFE, SHEILA, AND SHANNON COX. A PASSENGER IN COX'S VEHICLE, WAS SEVERELY INJURED.

THE US SENATE HAS APPROVED USING THE BULK OF WATER POLLUTION FINES STEMMING FROM THE 2010 GULF OIL SPILL TO PAY FOR RESTORATION IN FIVE GULF STATES.
THE BP OIL COMPANY COULD BE FINED $5.4 BILLION TO $21.1 BILLION UNDER THE CLEAN WATER ACT, DEPENDING ON WHETHER IT'S FOUND GROSSLY NEGLIGENT. THE MONEY TYPICALLY GOES INTO A FUND TO PAY FOR OIL SPILL CLEANUP COSTS AND DAMAGES. THAT FUND WOULD RECEIVE ONLY 20 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL. THE REST WOULD BE DIVIDED EQUALLY AMONG LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, FLORIDA AND TEXAS. THE MEASURE CLEARED THE SENATE 76-22 AS PART OF A LARGER TRANSPORTATION BILL.

THE U.S. AIR FORCE'S LATEST BUDGET PROPOSAL WOULD ELIMINATE THE 917TH FIGHTER GROUP AT BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE IN SHREVEPORT. THE "9-1-7" IS A UNIT OF 409 PART-TIME RESERVISTS AND OVER 170 FULL-TIME TECHNICIANS. SENATOR DAVID VITTER SAYS HE HAS REAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE PENTAGON'S BUDGET PROPOSAL. VITTER SAYS HE SPENT THURSDAY IN HEARINGS WITH THE SENATE ARMED FORCES COMMITTEE; ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PLANNED CUTS AT BARKSDALE. VITTER SAYS HE'S TRYING TO CONVINCE THE PENTAGON TO RETHINK CUTTING THE "9-1-7" AT BARKSDALE...AND THE JOBS THAT GO WITH IT

LT. GOV. JAY DARDENNE SAID THURSDAY THAT THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED BUDGET EATS INTO HIS ABILITY TO ADVERTISE THE STATE TO TOURISTS AND TO DRAW MORE PEOPLE AND THEIR TAX DOLLARS TO LOUISIANA. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR USES MORE THAN HALF THE MONEY EARMARKED FOR PROMOTING TOURISM INSTEAD TO PAY THE STATE'S SHARE OF BIG TICKET EVENTS SUCH AS THE SUPER BOWL AND THE NCAA WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR. DARDENNE AND JINDAL, BOTH REPUBLICANS, HAVE DISAGREED ABOUT THE TOURISM MARKETING BUDGET FOR TWO YEARS. THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SAID MARKETING BRINGS MONEY TO LOUISIANA SO CUTTING ADVERTISING DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

THE CIVIL SERVICE DEPARTMENT IS ADVISING LOUISIANA'S STATE EMPLOYEES THAT THEY CAN TALK WITH LAWMAKERS, TESTIFY AT LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS, ATTEND PUBLIC RALLIES AND OTHERWISE EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS ON GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSALS TO CHANGE THEIR RETIREMENT BENEFITS AND CONTRIBUTIONS. THE DEPARTMENT ISSUED A MEMO TELLING RANK-AND-FILE EMPLOYEES ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS. CIVIL SERVICE DIRECTOR SHANNON TEMPLET SAID WEDNESDAY THAT WAS IN RESPONSE TO A FLOOD OF STATE EMPLOYEE INQUIRIES SINCE JINDAL ANNOUNCED THE PENSION LEGISLATION. THE PROPOSALS WOULD REQUIRE STATE EMPLOYEES TO CONTRIBUTE MORE TO THEIR RETIREMENT, WHILE REDUCING BENEFITS AND INCREASING THE RETIREMENT AGE. THE LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM OPPOSES SOME OF THE PROPOSALS, ARGUING THEY BREAK A CONTRACT WITH EMPLOYEES.

THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH CORONER IS STILL TRYING TO IDENTIFY REMAINS OF A MAN THAT WERE FOUND THIS WEEK STUFFED IN AN ICE CHEST. CORONER, PETER GAVIN, SAYS DNA EVIDENCE IS GOING TO BE USED TO HELP IDENTIFY THE MAN BECAUSE OF THE ADVANCED STATE OF DECOMPOSITION. CAPT. GEORGE BONNETT WITH THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE INVESTIGATION WILL REMAIN OPEN PENDING AUTOPSY RESULTS. HE SAYS OTHER CHARGES COULD BE FORTHCOMING IF THE TWO WOMEN WERE FRAUDULENTLY RECEIVING THE DEAD MAN'S BENEFITS. WHICH IT’S BELIEVED THEY WERE.

STATE COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE JIM DONELON REMINDS PROPERTY OWNERS THAT THEY HAVE A REFUND COMING ON THEIR STATE TAXES. THE REFUND IS FOR AN ASSESSMENT PAID TO FINANCE DEBT FOR LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE LEFT OVER FROM HURRICANES IN 2005 AND 2008.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE ARE UNDER CRITICISM AGAIN; THIS TIME FOR SHOOTING AN UNARMED MAN. NOPD OFFICERS SHOT AND KILLED 20-YEAR-OLD WENDELL ALLEN, WHILE SERVING A WARRANT ON WEDNESDAY EVENING. THOUGH ALLEN WAS UNARMED, OFFICERS DID FIND A GUN AND SOME MARIJUANA IN THE HOUSE. SURVEILLANCE OF THE HOME INDICATED THERE WAS ILLICIT DRUG ACTIVITY GOING ON. CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE SHOOTING HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED YET.

THE ASSUMPTION PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THEY ARRESTED 16 SUSPECTED DRUG DEALERS AS PART OF AN ROUNDUP THEY CALLED "OPERATION SHOULD HAVE GOT A REAL JOB" THE ARRESTS WERE THE CAP TO AN 8-MONTH INVESTIGATION WHERE AGENTS WENT UNDERCOVER TO BUY CRACK COCAINE, MARIJUANA AND OTHER DRUGS THROUGHOUT THE PARISH.

THE ADMINISTRATOR OF BP'S GULF COAST CLAIMS FACILITY HAS BEEN OUSTED BY THE FEDERAL JUDGE PRESIDING OVER THE MASSIVE CIVIL SUIT OVER THE 2010 OIL SPILL. WEDNESDAY’S ORDER BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER WILL REPLACE FINEBERG WITH A COURT APPOINTED ADMINISTRATOR.

A TOP TEACHERS UNION OFFICIAL SAYS GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PLAN TO USE PUBLIC SCHOOL MONEY FROM THE MINIMUM FOUNDATION PROGRAM FOR SCHOOL VOUCHERS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT STEVE MONAGHAN SAYS THE JINDAL PLAN VIOLATES THE STATE'S CONSTITUTION ON SEVERAL GROUNDS. HE IS ASKING THE LEGISLATURE TO REJECT THE FUNDING PLAN AS APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION LAST WEEK AND SEND IT BACK TO THE BOARD TO BE REWRITTEN. MONAGHAN BELIEVES ANY INTERPRETATION OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT ALLOW FUNDING OF PRIVATE EDUCATION WITH PUBLIC MONEY.

BATON ROUGE STATE SENATOR YVONNE DORSEY-COLOMB HAS FILED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD PROHIBIT DEATH ROW INMATES FROM PROFITING FROM THEIR NOTORIETY. SHE SAYS SHE WAS MOTIVATED TO WRITE THE LAW BY NEWS REPORTS THAT CONVICTED KILLER, DERRICK TODD LEE, WAS SELLING HIS ARTWORK TO PEOPLE OUTSIDE ANGOLA STATE PRISON.

SPORTS..

THE NO. 11 LSU BASEBALL TEAM LOOKS TO EXTEND ITS SIX-GAME WINNING STREAK STARTING TONIGHT AGAINST MICHIGAN IN ALEX BOX STADIUM. THE TIGERS WILL ALSO HOST THE WOLVERINES TOMORROW NIGHT THEN SUNDAY TAKE ON NOTRE DAME. HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI SAYS HE HOPES THESE GAMES GET THE TEAM READY TO BEGIN SEC PLAY NEXT WEEKEND. HERE TONIGHT’S GAME ON TALKRADIO 970 KSYL.

News For Thursday 03/08/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 031812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN ARTICLE IN TODAY’S TOWN TALK REPORTS, BUSES FROM MABEL BRASHER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WILL NO LONGER ENTER THE SYCAMORE STREET APARTMENT COMPLEX IN ALEXANDRIA TO PICK UP OR DROP OFF STUDENTS. IT A DECISION THAT HAS SOME PARENTS AND RELATIVES UPSET. MABEL BRASHER PRINCIPAL DELISA DAVIS RECENTLY INFORMED FAMILIES IN THE APARTMENTS OF THE DECISION BY LETTER. SHE SAID THE DECISION WAS MADE BECAUSE OF SAFETY THREATS TO BUS DRIVERS, INCLUDING AN INCIDENT WHERE A PARENT BECAME BELLIGERENT BECAUSE THE BUS WAS LATE AND ATTACKED A BUS, BREAKING OUT THE DRIVERS WINDOW. DAVIS SAID BUS DRIVERS HAVE ALSO BEEN SUBJECTED TO VERBAL ABUSE IN THE AREA. CHILDREN, FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, ARE BEING DROPPED OFF AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE COMPLEX.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD IS RESTORING FUNDS FOR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES THAT HAD BEEN CUT BECAUSE OF BUDGET CONSTRAINTS. THE SCHOOL BOARD HAD CUT 15 PERCENT FROM EXTRACURRICULARS BEFORE THE SCHOOL YEAR TO HELP MAKE UP FOR A PROJECTED BUDGET SHORTFALL. AT ITS MONTHLY MEETING TUESDAY, THE BOARD VOTED 5-3 TO PUT THAT MONEY BACK INTO THE BUDGET. IT WILL COST ABOUT $200,000 TO RESTORE THE PREVIOUSLY CUT ACTIVITIES.

AUTHORITIES WILL CONTINUE THE SEARCH OF KINKAID LAKE TODAY, LOOKING FOR 53 YEAR OLD WILLIAM GALLOWAY. GALLOWAY WENT FISHING EARLY TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND HAS NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE. DIVE TEAMS STARTED SEARCHING THE LAKE LATE TUESDAY NIGHT. WITH THE SEARCH CONTINUING THROUGHOUT THE DAY YESTERDAY AFTER NEW EQUIPMENT WAS BROUGHT IN TO AID IN THE SEARCH. LATE TUESDAY NIGHT SEARCHERS FOUND GALLOWAY’S BOAT IDLING ON THE BANK OF THE LAKE.

THE AIR FORCE'S LATEST BUDGET PROPOSAL WOULD ELIMINATE THE 917TH FIGHTER GROUP, A RESERVE UNIT OF 580 PEOPLE AT BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, BY THE END OF NEXT YEAR — ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY. COL. JOHN BREAZEALE (BRUH-ZIL'), THE 917TH'S COMMANDER, SAYS THE PROPOSAL CALLS FOR RETIRING 21 OF THE UNIT'S A-10 "WARTHOG" JETS AND MOVING THE REMAINING THREE TO WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE. BREAZEALE SAYS THE 917TH HAS ABOUT 150 PEOPLE IN AFGHANISTAN RIGHT NOW.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL SOLIDIFIED HIS PLACE IN THE NATIONAL GOP OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS BY TRAVELING TO FUNDRAISE FOR HIS RE-ELECTION AND REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES. THE GOVERNOR ALSO TRAVELED TO PITCH HIS BOOK AND MINGLE WITH HEFTY DONORS AND WELL-CONNECTED POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS. NOW, ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SPENT MORE TO PROVIDE PROTECTION SERVICES FOR THE GOVERNOR'S OUT-OF-STATE POLITICAL AND FUNDRAISING TRAVEL THAN FOR WORK TRIPS IN OTHER STATES. JINDAL'S OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL COST TAXPAYERS MORE THAN $175,000 SINCE HE TOOK OFFICE IN 2008, AND MORE THAN 57 PERCENT OF THAT SPENDING FOR FLIGHTS, HOTEL ROOMS, MEALS AND TAXIS FOR THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SECURITY GUARDS WHO TRAVELED WITH HIM. SO FAR, NONE OF THE MONEY HAS BEEN REIMBURSED BY THE GOVERNOR'S CAMPAIGN, WHICH RAISED $13 MILLION FOR HIS 2011 RE-ELECTION AND STILL HAS NEARLY $4 MILLION IN HIS CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT.

THE LSU TIGERS TAKE A THREE-GAME LOSING STREAK TO THE SEC TOURNAMENT TODAY. THE TIGERS OPEN THE TOURNEY BY PLAYING ARKANSAS AT THE NEW ORLEANS ARENA. LSU WOULD NEED TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP TO RECEIVE AN AUTOMATIC BID TO THE BIG DANCE. TIP OFF TODAY AT NOON ON ESPN 1410.

CALCASIEU PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARE LOOKING FOR A MAN WHO STOLE ALMOST 9,000 PILLS IN 41 SECONDS FROM THE DRUG STORE IN MOSS BLUFF. THE CALCASIEU PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE CULPRIT WORE A GRAY OR TAN SUIT, CLEAR MASK, BASEBALL HAT AND SUNGLASSES. HE WAS SEEN ON THE STORE'S SURVEILLANCE VIDEO ENTERING THE STORE, JUMPING OVER THE COUNTER AND PUTTING THE DRUGS INTO A BLACK TRASH BAG BEFORE FLEEING. MYERS SAID HE TOOK MORE THAN $4,500 WORTH OF DRUGS, INCLUDING ABOUT 7,000 HYDROCODONE TABLETS.

IN ASCENSION PARISH, DEPUTIES HAVE ARRESTED FIVE PEOPLE FOR THEIR ROLE IN A HOME INVASION ON FEBRUARY 18TH THAT RESULTED IN THE TRIPLE SLAYING OF A FAMILY. SHERIFF JEFF WILEY SAYS ONE OF THE MEN DID WORK FOR THE FAMILY AND KNEW HE HAD GOLD COINS INSIDE HIS HOUSE.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STATE'S GAS TAX TIED TO THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX. KAREN ST. GERMAIN OF PLAQUEMINE SAYS WHEN THE C-P-I GOES UP THE STATE'S GAS TAX WOULD ALSO RISE, GENERATING MORE MONEY FOR ROAD CONSTRUCTION. ST. GERMAIN SAYS SHE WOULD LIKE TO SEE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PASSED NEXT YEAR. THE STATE'S CURRENT TAX ON GASOLINE IS 16-CENTS AND HASN'T BEEN CHANGED IN YEARS.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER HAS ONCE AGAIN INTRODUCED LEGISLATION FOR THE UPCOMING SESSION THAT WOULD BAN THE USE OF HANDHELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTIN BADON SAYS HE'S MORE OPTIMISTIC THAT HIS PROPOSED LAW WILL MAKE IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK THIS YEAR. BADON SAYS HE'S NOT TRYING TO BAN ALL CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING, BUT HIS LEGISLATION WOULD REQUIRE DRIVERS TO USE A HANDS FREE DEVICE.

A JINDAL APPOINTEE WAS FIRED A DAY AFTER TESTIFYING AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION'S PLANS TO MOVE THE OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. MARTHA MANUEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS SAYS TAMMY WOODS, THE GOVERNOR'S COMMUNITY PROGRAMS DIRECTOR FIRED HER IN A PHONE CALL WEDNESDAY MORNING.

A JURY IS DECIDING WHETHER IT WILL ALLOW FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TO SEIZE $330 MILLION FROM NEARLY 30 ACCOUNTS CONTROLLED BY CONVICTED TEXAS TYCOON R. ALLEN STANFORD AND OTHERS. JURORS GOT THE CASE WEDNESDAY AFTER A BRIEF CRIMINAL FORFEITURE PROCEEDING IN HOUSTON FEDERAL COURT. AFTER HEARING CLOSING ARGUMENTS, THEY DECIDED TO START DELIBERATING TODAY. THE ACCOUNTS IN THE CASE ARE ALLEGED TO CONTAIN CRIMINAL PROCEEDS FROM STANFORD'S MASSIVE PONZI SCHEME. THE SAME JURY CONVICTED STANFORD ON TUESDAY ON 13 COUNTS OF ORCHESTRATING A SCHEME THAT TOOK BILLIONS FROM INVESTORS FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS.

A LOUISIANA WOMAN APPARENTLY KEPT HER FATHER'S SEVERED BODY IN AN ICE CHEST AT HER APARTMENT FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS AS SHE COLLECTED HIS SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK. AT SOME POINT, SHE CUT OFF HIS HANDS SO THAT IDENTIFYING HIM WOULD BE DIFFICULT, AUTHORITIES SAID, BUT SHE NEVER DUMPED HIS BODY AS SHE HAD PLANNED. THE WOMAN AND HER ROOMMATE RECENTLY WENT TO THE ST. TAMMANY PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE TO TELL THEIR STORY. THE WOMAN HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED BUT SHE TOLD POLICE SHE IS THE MAN'S DAUGHTER. POLICE THINK THE 83-YEAR-OLD MAN, WHO ALSO HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED, DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES. THE CORONER IS WORKING TO VERIFY THAT PART OF THE WOMEN'S STORY.

SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS HE'LL HAVE TO CLOSE MUSEUMS IF LAWMAKERS PASS THE BUDGET PROPOSED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. SCHEDLER OUTLINED THE SITUATION WEDNESDAY TO THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, WHICH IS COMBING THROUGH JINDAL'S PROPOSALS FOR THE 2012-13 FISCAL YEAR. THE SECRETARY OF STATE OVERSEES 17 MUSEUMS, MOSTLY TINY MUSEUMS RUN BY VOLUNTEERS AND PART-TIME WORKERS. SCHEDLER SAYS WITH THE BUDGET PROPOSED, HE COULD KEEP OPEN THE TWO LARGEST MUSEUMS, THE OLD STATE CAPITOL IN BATON ROUGE AND THE LOUISIANA STATE EXHIBIT MUSEUM IN SHREVEPORT, BUT WOULD HAVE TO SHUT DOWN EVERY OTHER MUSEUM HE OVERSEES. SCHEDLER'S TRYING TO GET LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO TAKE OVER SOME MUSEUM OPERATIONS.

FIVE GULF COAST STATES' GOVERNORS ARE FIGHTING A U.S. AIR FORCE PROPOSAL TO MOVE EIGHT PLANES OUT OF TEXAS THAT ARE USED FOR POST-HURRICANE EVACUATIONS.
THE GOVERNORS SENT A LETTER TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION THIS WEEK IN RESPONSE TO PROPOSED AIR FORCE BUDGET CUTS. THEY INCLUDE MOVING THE TEXAS AIR NATIONAL GUARD C-130 HERCULES PLANES AWAY FROM A FORT WORTH BASE IN TWO YEARS.
THE LETTER SIGNED BY GOVERNORS OF TEXAS, ALABAMA, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI SAYS MOVING THE AIRCRAFT MEANS IT WOULD TAKE DAYS INSTEAD OF HOURS TO MOBILIZE THEM IN A DISASTER.

FACING LEGISLATION IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO MERGE LSU SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY, LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI IS OFFERING A COUNTER PROPOSAL. SPEAKING IN SHREVEPORT LOMBARDI SAYS HE HAS THE ADVISE OF A CONSULTANT RECOMMENDING A DIFFERENT SORT OF MERGER. LOMBARDI IS PROPOSING THAT LA TECH MOVE INTO THE LSU SYSTEM. LOMBARDI SAYS LSU HAS THE MEANS TO TRANSFER TECHNOLOGY AND PERFORM RESEARCH THAT WOULD FIT WELL WITH TECH'S GOALS. HE SAYS MOVING LOUISIANA TECH INTO THE LSU SYSTEM WOULD HAVE ADVANTAGES FOR BOTH UNIVERSITIES.






News For Wednesday 03/07/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 030712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS COACH SEAN PAYTON AND GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS HAVE TAKEN "FULL RESPONSIBILITY" FOR THE BOUNTY PROGRAM RUN BY FORMER ASSISTANT COACH GREGG WILLIAMS. IN A STATEMENT RELEASED TUESDAY, PAYTON AND LOOMIS ADMIT VIOLATIONS OF LEAGUE RULES HAPPENED UNDER THEIR WATCH. THEY ALSO PROMISED IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. PAYTON AND LOOMIS SAY SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON "HAD NOTHING TO DO" WITH THE BOUNTY POOL. THE LEAGUE'S INVESTIGATION FOUND THAT BENSON TOLD LOOMIS TO STOP THE BOUNTY PROGRAM ONCE THE NFL ALERTED THE OWNER ABOUT IT, BUT LOOMIS DID NOT ACT. THE NFL ALSO SAID PAYTON WAS AWARE OF THE PROGRAM AND DID NOTHING TO STOP IT.

THE STATE'S EDUCATION LEADER SAYS, IF THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS PROGRAM IS APPROVED, HE EXPECTS IT WILL START OUT SMALL. SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS EVEN THOUGH THE PROPOSED VOUCHERS LEGISLATION WOULD MAKE UP TO 380 THOUSAND PUBLIC SCHOOL KIDS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION, HE EXPECTS THE INITIAL ENROLLMENT WOULD BE CLOSER TO ABOUT 2000 CHILDREN. TO BE ELIGIBLE, STUDENTS MUST BE IN A SCHOOL WITH A "C' GRADE OR WORSE, AND FROM A LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLD. WHITE SAYS THE ROGRAM WILL OFFER PARENTS OF GOOD STUDENTS, WHO ARE "TRAPPED" IN FAILING SCHOOLS, AN OPTION AT A BETTER EDUCATION. HE SAYS PRIVATE SCHOOLS WILL NOT BE FORCED TO TAKE ON VOUCHER PROGRAM STUDENTS.

A BILL REQUIRING SEX EDUCATION TO BE TAUGHT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS UP FOR DEBATE FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS MARCH 12TH. PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE CURRENTLY HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO TEACH SEX ED, BUT BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE PAT SMITH WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT MANDATORY. SHE SAYS SEX EDUCATION WOULD HELP PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCIES. SMITH SAYS EVEN THOUGH SCHOOLS WOULD BE REQUIRED TO TEACH SEX ED, A PARENT COULD OPT OUT. SHE SAYS IT'S IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE TO STUDENTS ABOUT SEXUALITY AND INTIMATE RELATIONS.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS IT HAS FIRED A DEPUTY WHOSE RECKLESS DRIVING CAUSED A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT WHILE HE WAS OFF DUTY. 42-YEAR-OLD HOWARD WAYNE WELLS, OF OTIS, WAS CITED FOR RECKLESS DRIVING AND AGGRAVATED OBSTRUCTION OF A HIGHWAY AFTER THE ACCIDENT SATURDAY ON LOUISIANA HIGHWAY 121 NEAR HIGHWAY 461. POLICE SAY THE OTHER DRIVER IN THE WRECK TOLD INVESTIGATORS THAT WELLS CAUSED IT BY STOPPING ABRUPTLY IN FRONT OF HER TO GET HER TO STOP.
THEY SAY WELLS ADMITTED TO HAVING ARGUED WITH THE WOMAN. THEY ALSO SAY HE WAS DRIVING RECKLESSLY BEFORE THE CRASH. WELLS WAS PLACED ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY UNTIL AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION WAS COMPLETED, AND WAS FIRED ON MONDAY.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE LOUISIANA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, FOSTER CAMPBELL IS CLAIMING UTILITY CUSTOMERS IN LOUISIANA ARE PAYING INFLATED BILLS. CAMPBELL IS CALLING FOR A REVIEW OF THE PROFIT RATE ALLOWANCES UTILITY COMPANIES ARE ALLOWED TO MAKE. CAMPBELL SAYS LOW INTEREST RATES AND LOW RISK HAVE MEANT A HIGH PROFIT MARGIN FOR UTILITY COMPANIES. HE SAYS UTILITY COMPANIES BY LAW CAN ONLY MAKE SO MUCH OF A PROFIT. HE SAYS IF THEY ARE EXCEEDING THAT NUMBER, THEN THE MONEY SHOULD GO BACK IN THE HANDS OF THE CONSUMER.

THE RECENT ARREST OF A MAN SUSPECTED OF TRAFFICKING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CRYSTAL METH NORTHWESTERN LOUISIANA IS EXPECTED TO PUT A DENT IN THE LOCAL DRUG TRADE. DESOTO PARISH SHERIFF RODNEY ARBUCKLE SAYS SUSPECT SHANE ADKINSON AND FOUR ACCOMPLICES WERE BELIEVED TO BE BRINGING 10 TO 15 POUNDS OF METH INTO LOUISIANA MONTHLY. SHERIFF ARBUCKLE SAYS ADKINSON, HIS FOUR ACCOMPLICES AND 15 OTHERS ARE EXPECTED TO BE INDICTED BY A GRAND JURY SOON.

LOUISIANA IS SET TO HAVE ITS FIRST EXECUTION IN OVER TWO YEARS AS TODD WESSINGER IS SET TO DIE MAY 9TH FOR THE KILLING OF TWO PEOPLE AT A BATON ROUGE RESTAURANT IN 1995. EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY HILLAR MOORE SAYS HE ASKED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE RICHARD ANDERSON TO SET THE EXECUTION DATE. WESSINGER WAS A FORMER DISHWASHER AT CALENDAR'S AND WAS FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO DIE BY LETHAL INJECTION FOR FATALLY SHOOTING TWO PEOPLE THAT WORKED THERE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL RAN INTO CRITICISM FROM THE HEAD OF HIS OFFICE OF ELDERLY AFFAIRS, WHO SAYS THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN TO MERGE THE OFFICE INTO THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT WOULD DAMAGE SERVICES FOR LOUISIANA'S SENIOR CITIZENS. MARTHA MANUEL TOLD THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE ON TUESDAY THAT SHE DIDN'T LEARN HER OFFICE WOULD BE SHIFTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS UNTIL THE GOVERNOR'S SPENDING PLANS WERE UNVEILED LAST MONTH. LEADERS OF PARISH COUNCILS ON AGING HAVE RAISED STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED MOVE, SAYING THE OFFICE WILL BE SWALLOWED UP IN THE MASSIVE DHH BUREAUCRACY.
JINDAL'S COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION, PAUL RAINWATER, SAYS THE MOVE WON'T REDUCE SERVICES BUT COULD GENERATE ADDITIONAL FEDERAL MONEY AND WOULD BE MORE EFFICIENT.

A LAKE CHARLES COMPANY HAS BEEN CHOSEN TO BUILD AND DELIVER COMPONENTS FOR A SYSTEM TO CONTAIN UNDERWATER PETROLEUM WELL ACCIDENTS SUCH AS THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL. PROJECT MANAGER ROBERT WARD OF DYNAMIC INDUSTRIES INC. SAYS THE FIRST PHASE OF THE PROJECT, A YEAR OF FRAMING AND ENGINEERING WORK, HAS STARTED. THE EXPANDED CONTAINMENT SYSTEM IS BEING ENGINEERED FOR USE IN WATER DEPTHS OF UP TO 10,000 FEET. WARD SAID ABOUT 500 EMPLOYEES INCLUDING WELDER, ELECTRICIANS AND INSTRUMENT FITTERS WILL BE EMPLOYED DURING THE FIRST PHASE.

AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN EVANGELINE PARISH IS MOURNING THE DEATH OF THEIR LONGTIME JANITOR, WHO DIED IN A FIRE AT THE SCHOOL. AUTHORITIES SAY 58-YEAR-OLD DONALD RAY THOMAS COULDN'T GET OUT OF A ROOM THAT CAUGHT ON FIRE EARLY MONDAY MORNING. THE BLAZE WAS CONTAINED TO VIDRINE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL'S FORMER CAFETERIA BUILDING. STUDENTS RETURNED TO CLASS YESTERDAY WITH GRIEF COUNSELORS ON ON HAND. A CAUSE OF THE FIRE HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED. THE BLAZE STARTED BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED.

ST. LANDRY PARISH SHERIFF BOBBY GUIDROZ SAYS MORE CHARGES ARE POSSIBLE AGAINST A FEMALE OPELOUSAS JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER WHO HAD AN ALLEGED INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP WITH A STUDENT. GUIDROZ SAYS 44-YEAR-OLD LANA GREEN HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND THE STUDENT IS A 19-YEAR-OLD FEMALE, WHO ATTENDED THE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. GUDIROZ SAYS LOUISIANA LAW STATES A TEACHER CAN NOT HAVE A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A STUDENT, EVEN IF THAT STUDENT IS NOT A MINOR. GUIDROZ SAYS THE INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP OCCURRED IN THE FALL OF 2010. HE SAYS IT STARTED WITH TEXT MESSAGES BETWEEN THE TWO.

THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION RANKS LOUISIANA FOURTH IN THE NATION IN VEHICLE-TRAIN COLLISIONS AND INJURIES EVEN THOUGH THE NUMBER OF COLLISIONS DECLINED BETWEEN 2010 AND 2011. PAT EDWARDS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LOUISIANA OPERATION LIFESAVER SAYS PUBLIC AWARENESS IS THE BEST WAY TO REDUCE CROSSING COLLISIONS. TWO KEY FACTORS IN THE HIGH NUMBERS OF ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES ARE THE LARGE NUMBER OF RAILROAD CROSSINGS IN LOUISIANA. EDWARDS SAYS DISTRACTED DRIVING ALSO PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN MANY VEHICLE-TRAIN COLLISIONS.

THE STATE 3RD CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL HAS UPHELD THE ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED BURGLARY CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES OF A MAN WHO SHOT AT A WOMAN HE ROBBED. 18 YEAR OLD DEVONTA MITCHELL OF NEW ORLEANS WAS CONVICTED IN A JANUARY 2011 TRIAL IN ALEXANDRIA AND SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS OF HARD LABOR WITH A CONCURRENT 10-YEAR SENTENCE. MITCHELL APPEALED, CLAIMING AN EXCESSIVE SENTENCE AND INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL. THE CRIMES TOOK PLACE IN 2010 WHEN MITCHELL WAS 16. HE AND A 22-YEAR-OLD ACCOMPLICE ROBBED A WOMAN OF HER PURSE IN THE VICTIM'S HOME AND THEN ROBBED A WOMAN OUTSIDE THE HOME. THE SECOND VICTIM CALLED ALEXANDRIA POLICE AS SHE CHASED THE SUSPECTS AND WAS FIRED UPON.


News For Tuesday 03/06/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 030612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A PINEVILLE MAN, WHO HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIA, PLEADED GUILTY MONDAY TO THREE COUNTS OF SIMPLE ARSON FOR BURNING U.S. FLAGS LAST YEAR IN ALEXANDRIA, TELLING A JUDGE THAT HE SHOULDN'T HAVE LISTENED TO THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD BROUGHT ON BY NOT TAKING MEDICATION FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA. 26 YEAR OLD AHMED KHALED WAS SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS ON EACH FELONY ARSON CHARGE, WHICH WILL RUN CONCURRENTLY, MEANING HE WILL SPEND UP TO FIVE YEARS IN JAIL. KHALED WAS ORIGINALLY CHARGED BY ALEXANDRIA POLICE WITH FLAG DESECRATION AND HATE CRIME AS WELL AS ARSON, CRIMINAL MISCHIEF AND ATTEMPTED SIMPLE ARSON.

THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG ABOUT THIS STORY. A 16 YEAR OLD ZWOLLE TEENAGER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED LATE SUNDAY WHEN WHILE DRAG RACING WITH A 15 YEAR OLD FRIEND, ALONG HIGHWAY 3229, ON AN ATV. THE TWO COLLIDED SENDING THE BOY TO LSU MEDICAL CENTER IN SHREVEPORT. STATE POLICE BELIEVE THE BOYS, AS YOU MAY SUSPECT, HAD BEEN DRINKING.

A NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OFFICIAL FAMILIAR WITH CLUB OWNER TOM BENSON'S REACTION TO THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION SAYS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS AND HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON STILL HAVE BENSON'S FULL SUPPORT. THE OFFICIAL SPOKE TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON CONDITION OF ANONYMITY MONDAY BECAUSE THE INVESTIGATION WAS STILL ONGOING. AN NFL REPORT SAYS BETWEEN 22 AND 27 DEFENSIVE PLAYERS ON THE SAINTS, AS WELL AS A FORMER ASSISTANT COACH, MAINTAINED A BOUNTY PROGRAM FOR INFLICTING INJURIES ON TARGETED OPPOSING PLAYERS DURING THE PAST THREE SEASONS.

LAYOFFS GO INTO EFFECT THIS WEEK AT SEVEN LSU PUBLIC HOSPITALS AS A RESULT OF MID FISCAL-YEAR BUDGET CUTS. LSU HEALTH CARE SERVICES DIVISION C-E-O, DR. ROXANNE TOWNSEND, SAYS SHE'S DOESN'T HAVE AN EXACT NUMBER ON HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE LAID OFF, BUT THEIR PLAN TO REDUCE PERSONNEL IMPACTED ABOUT 650 POSITIONS. TOWNSEND SAYS DESPITE THEIR BEST EFFORTS TO MAKE UP FOR THE LOSS OF PERSONNEL, PATIENTS WILL SEE SERVICE IMPACTED AT THE SEVEN LSU PUBLIC HOSPITALS.

A PUSH TO RESTRUCTURE THE WAY LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS ARE PAID, TO GIVE SALARY BOOSTS BASED ON PERFORMANCE, HAS SUPPORT FROM DEMOCRATIC U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU. THE CONCEPT IS ONE OF REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION OVERHAUL IDEAS FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. LANDRIEU SAID MONDAY SHE ALSO BACKS CHANGES TO TEACHER JOB PROTECTION LAWS, KNOWN AS TENURE. ONE AREA OF DISAGREEMENT, HOWEVER, IS VOUCHERS. THE CREATION OF A STATEWIDE PROGRAM THAT USES TAXPAYER MONEY TO SEND STUDENTS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS IS A KEY PART OF JINDAL'S PROPOSALS, BUT LANDRIEU SAYS IT SHOULDN'T BE THE CENTERPIECE OF EDUCATION OVERHAUL.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU SAYS SHE "DEFINITELY" PLANS TO RUN FOR A FOURTH TERM IN TWO YEARS. THE DEMOCRAT FROM NEW ORLEANS TOSSED ASIDE SPECULATION THAT SHE WAS GOING TO END HER CONGRESSIONAL CAREER AFTER 18 YEARS IN THE SENATE. LANDRIEU WOULDN'T COMMENT SPECIFICALLY MONDAY ON WHETHER SHE EXPECTS REPUBLICAN U.S. REP. BILL CASSIDY OF BATON ROUGE TO CHALLENGE HER. SHE DID SAY THOUGH SHE’D BE READY FOR WHOEVER IT IS AND SHE PLANS TO WIN.

STATE POLICE REPORT A WINNSBORO, LOUISIANA MAN WAS FOUND DEAD AT HIS PLACE OF WORK SATURDAY. THE BODY OF 22-YEAR-OLD COLBY FOTENBERRY OF NEWELLTON WAS DISCOVERED AT THE HIGHWAY 4 BAR, WHERE HE WORKED AS A BARTENDER. STATE POLICE ARE REPORTING THERE ARE NO SUSPECTS, SO FAR, IN THE INVESTIGATION.

TWO STATE POLICE PILOTS ARE SUING THE LSP FOR ALLEGED MALFEASANCE, COVER-UPS AND MISCONDUCT. ATTORNEY WALTER SMITH III REPRESENTS RYAN ROBERTS AND LYNN CALAMIA, WHO SAY THEIR SUPERVISORS USED LSP HELICOPTERS FOR IMPROPER USES. HE SAYS HIS CLIENTS WERE PUNISHED FOR SPEAKING UP. DETAILS IN THE LAWSUIT ARE NUMEROUS, AND THE STORY IS COMPLICATED. SMITH SAYS HIS CLIENTS WERE OSTRACIZED FOR BEING "WHISTLEBLOWERS" TO WRONG DOING BY THEIR SUPERIORS. STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT COL. MIKE EDMONSON, WHO IS NAMED IN THE SUIT, SAYS IT HAS LITTLE MERIT, BUT HE'S ORDERED A FULL INVESTIGATION.

LOUISIANA'S SUPERINTENDENT OF STATE POLICE, COL. MIKE EDMONSON, IS TAKING A NEW LEADERSHIP ROLE OUTSIDE OF THE STATE. IN SEPTEMBER, EDMONSON WILL BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE STATE/PROVINCIAL DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE. EDMONSON SAYS IT'S THE FIRST TIME A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL FROM LOUISIANA HAS EVER BEEN IN THAT JOB. HE SAYS THE POSITION OVERSEES POLICIES INVOLVING CHIEFS OF POLICE OF ALL U.S. STATES, CANADA, U.S. TERRITORIES AND CANADIAN PROVINCES. THE ORGANIZATION PROMOTES COOPERATION AND PARTNERSHIPS AMONG POLICE LEADERS AND OFFICIALS AROUND THE WORLD.

THE HEAD OF LOUISIANA'S GAMBLING REGULATORY AGENCY HAS QUIT TO TAKE A POSITION WITH THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY. DANE MORGAN WAS APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF THE LOUISIANA GAMING CONTROL BOARD IN JULY 2009. THE BOARD REGULATES STATE-LICENSED CASINOS AND VIDEO POKER MACHINES. HIS SUCCESSOR ON THE GAMBLING BOARD WILL BE APPOINTED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL.

A REPORT RELEASED YESTERDAY BY THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR’S OFFICE SAY TAX BREAKS TO BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS IN LOUISIANA CUT STATE TAX LIABILITIES BY $4.8 BILLION OVER SIX YEARS, MORE HEAVILY BENEFITING COMPANIES THAN PEOPLE IN THE STATE.
BUSINESSES GOT TAX CUTS DECREASING THEIR TAX LIABILITIES BY 55 PERCENT FROM 2005 TO 2010, COMPARED WITH AN 11 PERCENT CUT FOR INDIVIDUALS.

AN OPELOUSAS JUNIOR HIGH TEACHER HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH PROHIBITED SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A STUDENT. 44-YEAR-OLD LANA GREEN ALLEGEDLY HAD A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A 19-YEAR-OLD FEMALE THAT WAS TAKING A SUMMER COURSE AT THE SCHOOL IN 2011. THE STUDENT IS OVER THE AGE OF CONSENT, BUT LOUISIANA HAS A LAW AGAINST SEXUAL CONDUCT BETWEEN AN EDUCATOR AND A STUDENT.

A BP PLC WELL SITE LEADER ON THE DEEPWATER HORIZON IS APPEALING A JUDGE'S ORDER HE UNDERGO A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BEFORE HE CAN CLAIM TO BE UNFIT ANSWER QUESTIONS UNDER OATH ABOUT THE DEADLY 2010 RIG EXPLOSION THAT SPAWNED THE NATION'S WORST OFFSHORE OIL SPILL. LAST MONTH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER SAID DONALD VIDRINE SHOULD UNDERGO A MEDICAL EXAM. VIDRINE WAS ONE OF BP'S WELL SITE LEADERS ON THE DEEPWATER HORIZON AND HE HAS CLAIMED MEDICAL PROBLEMS SHOULD PREVENT HIM FROM BEING QUESTIONED. RIG OWNER TRANSOCEAN LTD. WANTS TO QUESTION HIM. ON MONDAY, VIDRINE APPEALED BARBIER'S RULING TO THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS. A TRIAL OVER THE SPILL WAS SCHEDULED TO START MONDAY, BUT IT WAS DELAYED INDEFINITELY AFTER A PARTIAL SETTLEMENT WAS REACHED.


SPORTS..

LSU TAKES A FIVE-GAME WINNING STREAK TO NEW ORLEANS TONIGHT WHERE THEY'LL FACE THEIR BIGGEST IN-STATE RIVAL, THE TULANE GREEN WAVE. DURING THE WINNING STREAK, THE TIGERS HAVE AVERAGED 13 RUNS A GAME. COACH PAUL MAINIERI TALKS ABOUT THE ADJUSTMENT HIS PLAYERS HAVE MADE AT THE PLATE. BOTH TEAMS ENTER TONIGHT'S GAME WITH IDENTICAL 10-AND-2 RECORDS.

AN LSU SOCCER PLAYER WILL GET HER CHANCE TUESDAY TO SEE IF SHE HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO JOIN THE TIGERS' FOOTBALL TEAM. MO ISOM WILL TRYOUT AT THAT TIME. ISOM, WHO IS SIX FEET TALL, WORKED OUT WITH THE TEAM IN SEPTEMBER, PRACTICING KICKOFFS AND FIELD GOALS. THOUGH SHE IS A SENIOR, SHE WOULD HAVE A YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY SHOULD SHE BE SELECTED FOR THE FOOTBALL TEAM.

News For Monday 03/05/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 030512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT WAS A CASE OF BEING IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME, AN ALEXANDRIA MAN DIED SATURDAY MORNING AFTER A TWO-VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 3170 THE CRASH HAPPENED AROUND 8:30 WHEN A PICKUP DRIVEN BY 21 YEAR OLD JOSHUA MICHEL OF SIMMESPORT, CROSSED THE CENTER LINE OF THE HIGHWAY AND HIT ANOTHER PICKUP HEAD ON. 32 YEAR OLD DEMETRIUS GRIMES OF ALEXANDRIA WAS THE DRIVER OF THAT ONCOMING PICKUP. HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. MICHEL WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WITH SERIOUS INJURIES. THE CRASH IS UNDER INVESTIGATION, AND ROUTINE TOXICOLOGY TESTS ARE PENDING.

IT’S BELIEVED AN EARLY SUNDAY MORNING CRASH WAS THE RESULT OF ALCOHOL. STATE POLICE SAY THE CRASH TOOK PLACE SHORTLY BEFORE 4AM ON HIGHWAY 107 NEAR DUPONT. A 2005 FORD PICKUP DRIVEN BY 21 YEAR OLD NICHOLAS TURNER PLAUCHEVILLE WAS SOUTH BOUND ON LA. HIGHWAY 107 WHEN TURNER LOST CONTROL AND EXITED THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROADWAY. AFTER EXITING THE ROADWAY, THE VEHICLE COLLIDED WITH A MAILBOX AND SEVERAL TREES BEFORE OVERTURNING. TURNER SUSTAINED MODERATE INJURIES. HE WAS TRANSPORTED TO OPELOUSAS GENERAL. HIS ONLY PASSENGER, IDENTIFIED AS 21 YEAR OLD PHILLIP PEPITON SUSTAINED SERIOUS INJURIES AND WAS TRANSPORTED TO LAFAYETTE GENERAL.

THE NORTHWESTERN STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM HAS BEEN SHAKEN BY THE SUDDEN DEATH OF THE INFANT TWIN SONS OF STAR CENTER WILLIAM MOSLEY. JAYDEN AND KAYDEN MOSLEY DIED SATURDAY EVENING IN A HOUSTON HOSPITAL. THE TWINS WERE BORN MARCH 20 OF LAST YEAR AND HAVE BEEN HOSPITALIZED SINCE BIRTH WITH RESPIRATORY ISSUES.

THE SAINTS WERE UNABLE TO WORK OUT A LONG-TERM DEAL WITH QUARTERBACK DREW BREES, THEREFORE THEY HAD TO PLACE THE FRANCHISE TAG ON HIM. SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR NEW ORLEANS OTHER SOON TO BE UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS. NFL ANALYST MIKE DETILLIER SAYS THE SAINTS WOULD HAVE PREFERRED TO USE THE FRANCHISE TAG ON ALL-PRO OFFENSIVE GUARD CARL NICKS. WIDE RECEIVER MARQUES COLSTON IS THE SAINTS OTHER HIGH-PROFILE PLAYER THAT HAS AN EXPIRED CONTRACT. DETILLIER BELIEVES THE SAINTS HAVE A GOOD CHANCE AT RE-SIGNING COLSTON. THE SAINTS AND BREES ARE A REPORTED FIVE-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR A PART ON A LONG-TERM CONTRACT. THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS-FRANCHISE TAG MEANS BREES CAN'T TALK WITH ANY OTHER TEAMS AND WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE TO AGREE ON A ONE-YEAR DEAL THAT WILL PAY HIM AT LEAST 14.4 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. DETILLIER SAYS BOTH SIDES WILL KEEP TALKING ABOUT A LONG-TERM DEAL...

FOR THE FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW, THE STATE IS NOT GOING TO FUND CADET CLASSES TO TRAIN NEW STATE TROOPERS. STATE POLICE CAPTAIN DOUG CAIN SAYS THE REQUEST FOR MONEY TO PAY FOR THE CLASSES WAS WITHDRAWN BECAUSE OF THE STATE'S LOOMING BUDGET ISSUES. HE SAYS IT COMES DOWN TO A CHOICE BETWEEN HOLDING A CLASS OR CUTTING STAFF. STATE POLICE FIGURES SHOW THERE WERE 727 TROOPERS IN 2009 AND NOW THERE ARE 674. CAIN SAYS EVEN THOUGH THE OVERALL NUMBERS DECREASED THE NUMBER OF TROOPERS ON THE ROAD IS UP.

THE LONE SURVIVOR OF A HOME INVASION AND ROBBERY LAST MONTH IN ASCENSION PARISH HAS DIED. AUTHORITIES SAY 72-YEAR-OLD SHIRLEY ANN MARCHAND DIED FRIDAY AT A HOSPITAL, TURNING THE CASE INTO A TRIPLE HOMICIDE. MARCHAND WAS DISCOVERED FEB. 18 BESIDE THE BODIES OF HER HUSBAND AND HER SON. AUTHORITIES SAID THE THROATS OF ALL THREE HAD BEEN SLASHED. ROBBERY OF A RARE COIN COLLECTION IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN THE MOTIVE.

THE CADDO PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE INVESTIGATED A TRAIN ACCIDENT THAT CLAIMED A WOMAN'S LIFE SUNDAY EVENING. OFFICIALS SAY THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED ABOUT 6:30 P.M. ON A UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD TRACK THAT CROSSES BERT KOUNS INDUSTRIAL LOOP. THE WOMAN, POSSIBLY BETWEEN THE AGES OF 15 AND 25 YEARS OLD, WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. FIREFIGHTERS REPORT THE SOUTHBOUND TRAIN TRAVELED ABOUT A MILE BEYOND THE POINT WHERE IT HIT THE PEDESTRIAN BEFORE IT WAS ABLE TO STOP. THE WOMAN'S IDENTITY WAS NOT IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE.

NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY IS OFFERING THE STATE'S FIRST MASTER'S DEGREE IN HOMELAND SECURITY STARTING THIS SUMMER. IT'S AN EXPANSION OF AN ADULT EDUCATION COURSE CURRENTLY OFFERED THAT HAS A "CONCENTRATION" IN HOMELAND SECURITY.
JOE MORRIS, HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, HISTORY AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAYS THE UNIVERSITY STARTED DEVELOPING THE PROGRAM AFTER THE SEPT. 11, 2001, ATTACKS. COURSES WILL COVER A VARIETY OF SECURITY ISSUES SUCH AS INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME AND COVERT OPERATIONS, VENUE AND EVENT SECURITY, DOMESTIC TERRORISM PREVENTION AND ANALYSIS, CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES AND GLOBAL SECURITY, CYBER-TERRORISM, COUNTER-TERRORISM, ADVANCED CYBER-FORENSICS AND CYBER-WARFARE ISSUES.

A LOUISIANA COTTON FARMER'S BIGGEST ENEMY HAS BEEN WIPED OUT. AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS AFTER A LONG BATTLE AGAINST THE BOLL WEEVIL, THE PEST HAS FINALLY BEEN ERADICATED. HE SAYS TRAPS MONITORED BY HIS DEPARTMENT DID NOT CAPTURE ANY BOLL WEEVILS IN 2011, AFTER CATCHING JUST ONE IN 2010. THE BOLL WEEVIL IS A NASTY PEST THAT CAN DESTROY A COTTON CROP. STRAIN SAYS TAXPAYERS AND FARMERS HAVE SPENT OVER 175-MILLION DOLLARS SINCE 1997 TO ERADICATE THE INSECT.

A PARADE AND VICTORY BASH HONORING MOONBOT STUDIOS WILL BE HELD IN SHREVEPORT TODAY TO CELEBRATE THE OSCAR WINNING DUO WILLIAM JOYCE AND BRANDON OLDENBURG. THE TWO WON AN ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM FOR THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE. ORGANIZERS SAY THE OSCAR IS BRINGING INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION TO THE ROLE OF THE ARTS IN SHREVEPORT AND HOW IMPORTANT IT'S BEEN FOR THE COMMUNITY.

A WARM WINTER HAS LEAD TO AN EARLY ALLERGY SEASON WITH TREES AND FLOWERS PUMPING POLLEN INTO THE AIR EARLIER THEN NORMAL. DR. KEN PARIS WITH THE LSU HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS SAYS THE WARMER WEATHER HAS FOOLED THE TREES INTO FLOWERING EARLY WHICH IS BAD NEW FOR ANYONE WHO SUFFERS FROM ALLERGIES. PARIS SAYS THE EXTENDED ALLERGY SEASON WILL BE PARTICULARLY HARD ON PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH SEVERE POLLEN ALLERGIES.

A LAFAYETTE WOMAN WAS ARRESTED FOR MAKING THREATS AGAINST ST. THOMAS MORE HIGH SCHOOL ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE. LAFAYETTE POLICE SPOKESPERSON CPL. PAUL MOUTON SAYS 20-YEAR-OLD JENNIFER CORNAY WAS BOOKED ON ALLEGATIONS OF TERRORIZING. HE SAYS THE FACEBOOK POSTINGS REFERENCED THE COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTINGS. MOUTON SAYS CORNAY WAS A FORMER STUDENT AT ST. THOMAS MORE. HE SAYS INVESTIGATORS ARE STILL TRYING TO DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF EXPERIENCE SHE HAD WHILE SHE WAS THERE AND WHY SHE WOULD POST SUCH DISTURBING MESSAGES ON FACEBOOK.

A SETTLEMENT THAT BP IS HAMMERING OUT WITH VICTIMS OF THE MASSIVE GULF OIL SPILL FINALLY PROVIDES A SYSTEM FOR MONITORING HEALTH CONCERNS AND COMPENSATING PEOPLE WHOSE ILLNESSES ARE FOUND TO HAVE A LINK TO THE DISASTER. GOVERNMENT AND UNIVERSITY DOCTORS STUDYING LOCALS' HEALTH HAVEN'T FOUND SIGNIFICANT EVIDENCE OF SPILL-RELATED ILLNESSES, BUT PROBLEMS YEARS FROM NOW REMAIN A QUESTION MARK.

FORMER ST. GABRIEL MAYOR GEORGE GRACE HAS BEEN JAILED AFTER HIS CONVICTION ON RACKETEERING AND OTHER CHARGES RESULTING FROM AN FBI STING CALLED "OPERATION BLIGHTED OFFICIALS." PROSECUTORS SAID HE MIGHT FLEE TO UGANDA BEFORE HIS SENTENCING JULY 2. GRACE WAS CONVICTED SATURDAY EVENING ON SEVEN OF 13 FELONY CHARGES, INCLUDING BRIBERY, FRAUD AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. GRACE IS THE SIXTH BATON ROUGE-AREA OFFICIAL CONVICTED IN THE STING. FORMER WHITE CASTLE MAYOR MAURICE BROWN IS SERVING 10 YEARS AND FORMER NEW ROADS MAYOR TOMMY NELSON IS SERVING AN 11-YEAR TERM. FORMER PORT ALLEN MAYOR DEREK LEWIS, FORMER PORT ALLEN POLICE CHIEF FRED SMITH AND FORMER PORT ALLEN COUNCILMAN JOHNNY JOHNSON SR. HAVE YET TO BE SENTENCED. WHITE CASTLE POLICE CHIEF MARIO BROWN WAS ACQUITTED.

THE ASCENSION PARISH COUNCIL HAS ASKED STATE CONSERVATION COMMISSIONER JAMES WELCH TO CALL A HEARING ON GROUND WATER PUMPING FROM AN AQUIFER THAT SUPPLIES DRINKING WATER TO BATON ROUGE AND PART OF ASCENSION PARISH.
THE COUNCIL WANTS EXPERT TESTIMONY ON WHETHER EXCESSIVE PUMPING IS ACCELERATING SALTWATER INTRUSION INTO THE SOUTHERN HILLS AQUIFER. ACCORDING TO EXPERTS, THE BATON ROUGE AQUIFER IS UNDER SIEGE BY SALT WATER. THE HEARING WOULD BE AN INITIAL STEP TOWARD STEPS TO PROLONG THE AQUIFER'S USABLE LIFE.


News For Friday 03/02/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 030212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

OUR STRING OF RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES IS COMING TO AN ABRUPT END TONIGHT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS A POTENTIALLY VIOLENT COLD FRONT WILL PASS THROUGH THE STATE TONIGHT BRINGING THUNDER STORMS AND SOME SEVERE WEATHER. KEIM SAYS WEEKEND TEMPERATURES WILL BE MUCH MORE SPRING LIKE. KEIM SAYS WE CAN EXPECT A FEW HOURS OF HEAVY WEATHER IN THE OVERNIGHT HOURS. BUT, HE SAYS, THE ENTIRE STATE WILL ENJOY BEAUTIFUL, SEASONAL WEATHER FOR AS MUCH AS A WEEK AFTER THAT. THE SYSTEM THIS FRONT IS ASSOCIATED WITH IS THE SAME ONE THAT HAS BROUGHT A SERIES OF FATAL AND DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES TO THE MIDWEST.

THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THAT DOG-DEER HUNTING WILL BE PROHIBITED IN KISATCHIE STARTING WITH THE 2012-13 SEASON. FORESTRY OFFICIALS SAY THEY CONTINUE TO RECEIVE COMPLAINTS ABOUT DOG-DEER HUNTERS FROM ADJACENT LANDOWNERS AND OTHER RECREATION USERS. THE FOREST SERVICE MADE A SIMILAR ANNOUNCEMENT BACK IN 2010, BUT THAT DECISION WAS OVERTURNED. A NEW ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT WAS RELEASED IN DECEMBER, WHICH THE FOREST SERVICE SAID CORRECTED FLAWS IN THE PREVIOUS ASSESSMENTS AND INCLUDED NEW INFORMATION.

MORE THAN 100 FORMER AND RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES GATHERED AT THE MAIN STREET COMMUNITY CENTER IN PINEVILLE YESTERDAY TO LEARN ABOUT THE MAJOR ISSUES THAT COULD AFFECT THEM IN THE UPCOMING STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. LOCAL AND STATE OFFICIALS, AS WELL AS LEADERS OF LASERS, THE RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION, TALKED ABOUT THE UPCOMING BATTLES AFFECTING BOTH CURRENT AND FORMER STATE EMPLOYEES. AMONG THE RETIREMENT ISSUES AND PROPOSALS BEING ADDRESSED DURING THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS A BILL THAT RAISES THE MINIMUM RETIREMENT AGE TO 67 AND ONE THAT INCREASES EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTION RATES BY 3 PERCENT.

THE MAYOR OF FOREST HILL HAS RESIGNED HIS JOB. IN A STATEMENT, SAM ECHOLS SAID HE HAS SUBMITTED A NOTARIZED LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. HE SAYS WHILE HE MADE HIS INTENTIONS TO RESIGN PUBLIC AT THE LAST VILLAGE COUNCIL MEETING IN JANUARY, HE DELAYED THE OFFICIAL RESIGNATION SO HE COULD COMPLETE SOME OUTSTANDING PROJECTS. ECHOLS SAYS EVEN THOUGH FOREST HILL IS A VILLAGE, THE TIME REQUIRED TO BE AN EFFECTIVE MAYOR REQUIRES MORE THAN HE CAN PROVIDE WITHOUT SACRIFICING HIS COMMITMENT TO HIS FAMILY AND MY EMPLOYER. ECHOLS WAS ELECTED IN OCTOBER 2010, WINNING A THREE-CANDIDATE PRIMARY WITH 62 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. HE SUCCEEDED FOUR-TERM MAYOR MARCIA YOUNG, WHO DID NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION. THE VILLAGE COUNCIL WILL APPOINT AN ACTING MAYOR, WHO WILL SERVE UNTIL A SPECIAL ELECTION IS HELD IN THE FALL FOR A MAYOR TO SERVE THE REMAINDER OF ECHOLS' TERM, A VILLAGE SPOKESPERSON SAID.

LOUISIANA HAS SOLD $400 MILLION IN GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS, BORROWING THAT WILL PAY FOR ONGOING AND PLANNED STATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. THE ONLINE AUCTION WAS HELD THURSDAY BY THE BOND COMMISSION. THE BONDS WERE AWARDED TO THE LOW BIDDER, J.P. MORGAN SECURITIES. THE STATE ISSUES BONDS TO INVESTORS TO GET UPFRONT CASH FOR PROJECTS, AND THEN PAYS THE DEBT WITH INTEREST OVER SEVERAL YEARS. TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY'S OFFICE SAYS THE $400 MILLION BOND SALE WILL PAY FOR 190 PROJECTS AROUND THE STATE. THE COMMISSION ALSO AGREED TO REFINANCE $49 MILLION IN EXISTING STATE DEBT FOR A LOWER INTEREST RATE THAT WILL SAVE THE STATE MORE THAN $5 MILLION OVER THE REPAYMENT OF THE BORROWING.

THE EARLY MORNING SHOOTING YESTERDAY NEAR CITY PARK IN NEW ORLEANS THAT LEFT
ONE MAN DEAD HAS LEFT TWO NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICERS RECOVERING FROM MULTIPLE GUNSHOT WOUNDS IN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL. BOTH OFFICERS ARE LISTED IN STABLE CONDITION, BUT BOTH FACE A LONG RECOVERY FOLLOWING SURGERY.

IT TOOK A FEW HOURS BUT BATON ROUGE POLICE HAVE ALREADY MADE AN ARREST IN AN EARLY MORNING SHOOTING. 41-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL JOSEPH HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED FIRST DEGREE MURDER OF A PEACE OFFICER. BRPD SPOKESPERSON DON KELLY SYS JOSEPH WAS QUICKLY DEVELOPED AS A SUSPECT IN THE CASE. THE PATROL OFFICER PULLED JOSEPH OVER ON FOR QUESTIONING WHEN THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE. THE OFFICER WAS STRUCK IN THE CHEST BUT WAS UNHURT BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING HIS BULLET PROOF VEST.

WEST MONROE STATE REPRESENTATIVE FRANK HOFFMAN HAS OFFERED LEGISLATION IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT WOULD EXPAND ON THE CURRENT LOUISIANA SMOKE FREE AIR ACT BY BANNING SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF ANY BUILDING THAT CURRENTLY PROHIBITS SMOKING. THERE HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTS IN RECENT YEARS TO EXPAND THE ACT TO BAN SMOKING IN BARS AND CASINOS. HOFFMAN SAYS THIS BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO PLACES THAT CURRENTLY ALLOW SMOKING. HOFFMAN SAYS HE WANTS TO APPLY LAWS, ALREADY ON THE BOOKS IN A NUMBER OF LOUISIANA CITIES, STATEWIDE.

A BILL UP FOR DEBATE IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION WOULD CUT THE STATE INCOME TAX RATE FOR PEOPLE EARNING 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS OR MORE. THE BILL BY REPUBLICAN SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER STATE SENATOR BARROW PEACOCK WOULD CUT THE CURRENT RATE FROM 6 TO 4 PERCENT OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. PEACOCK SAYS LOUISIANA IS COMPETING WITH OTHER STATES FOR MORE BUSINESS. PEACOCK IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE OUTMIGRATION OF COLLEGE GRADUATES AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FROM THE STATE IN RECENT YEARS. HE SAYS CUTTING THE TAX RATE BY 2-PERCENT WOULD MAKE THE STATE MORE COMPETITIVE AND GIVE MORE PEOPLE IN LOUISIANA MORE DISPOSABLE INCOME.

A FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE LOUISIANA GOVERNOR'S PROGRAM ON ABSTINENCE HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO NEARLY SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOLLOWING HER CONVICTION LAST YEAR ON TWO COUNTS OF MAIL FRAUD. U.S. ATTORNEY DONALD J. CAZAYOUX JR. SAID THURSDAY THAT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE JAMES J. BRADY SENTENCED 64-YEAR-OLD GAIL RAY DIGNAM TO 70 MONTHS IN PRISON. HE ALSO ORDERED DIGNAM TO PAY RESTITUTION AND TO SERVE A YEAR OF SUPERVISED RELEASE AFTER COMPLETING THE PRISON TIME. DIGNAM'S INDICTMENT ALLEGED SHE SECRETLY DIRECTED ABOUT $9,000 IN GOVERNMENT FUNDS TO A SON AND ANOTHER UNIDENTIFIED PERSON.AS PART OF A FRAUDULENT SCHEME

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS AGAIN ATTEMPTING TO BAN CERTAIN SEX OFFENDERS FROM FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES, BACKING LEGISLATION THURSDAY THAT WOULD REWRITE A STATE LAW THAT LATER WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY A FEDERAL JUDGE. JINDAL SAID THE PROHIBITION IS AMONG ANTI-CRIME BILLS HE IS PUSHING IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT BEGINS MARCH 12. A FEDERAL JUDGE THREW OUT A LAW PASSED LAST YEAR THAT MADE IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE AGAINST A MINOR OR OF VIDEO VOYEURISM TO USE NETWORKING WEBSITES, CHAT ROOMS AND PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS. THE JUDGE SAID THE LAW WAS TOO BROAD AND WOULD EFFECTIVELY BAN THOSE SEX OFFENDERS FROM THE INTERNET.

A NEW ORLEANS AREA LAWMAKER IS SPONSORING A PROPOSAL TO BOOST JUDGES' SALARIES ACROSS THE STATE FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS, TO GET THEM TO THE AVERAGE PAID TO THEIR COLLEAGUES ACROSS THE SOUTH. REP. JEFF ARNOLD, A DEMOCRAT, NOTES ON THE BILL THAT HE SPONSORED IT "BY REQUEST." IF THE MEASURE PASSED, LAWMAKERS WOULD NEED TO BACK A SEPARATE APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR IT.

AMTRAK AND STATE TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS IN TEXAS HAVE AGREED TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE FROM SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY TO DALLAS-FORT WORTH. THE STUDY IS DESIGNED TO DETERMINE COSTS AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED FOR A CONVENTIONAL TRAIN SERVICE SPONSORED BY THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION. UNDER CONSIDERATION IS A SERVICE UNDER WHICH AMTRAK WOULD MAKE UP TO SEVEN STOPS BETWEEN DALLAS-FORT WORTH AND SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY DURING AS MANY AS TWO DAILY ROUNDTRIPS. THE RAIL SEGMENT BETWEEN MARSHALL, TEXAS, AND FORT WORTH IS SERVED NOW BY THE AMTRAK'S TEXAS EAGLE.
SHREVEPORT HAS NOT HAD PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE SINCE DECEMBER 1969 WHEN IT WAS DISCONTINUED PRIOR TO THE FORMATION OF AMTRAK.

AN ALABAMA MAN AWAITS SENTENCING, AFTER HIS CONVICTION THIS WEEK FOR A MURDER IN TERREBONNE PARISH 32 YEARS AGO. A JURY FOUND 55-YEAR-OLD RICKY BROWN GUILTY OF KILLING THEN-23-YEAR-OLD EDITH MCLEROY AND DUMPING HER BODY IN POND. TERREBONNE PARISH DA JOE WAITZ JR. SAYS, AFTER 30 YEARS IN THE COLD CASE FILE, DETECTIVES FINALLY GOT A BREAK IN THE CASE. AFTER A TWO-DAY TRIAL, IT TOOK TERREBONNE PARISH JURORS LESS THAN TWO HOURS TO RETURN WITH A GUILTY VERDICT FOR BROWN ON A CHARGE OF 2ND DEGREE MURDER. HE NOW FACES A MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE FOR THE CRIME.

THE FIRST PILINGS ARE IN THE GROUND FOR THE $1.1 BILLION HOSPITAL PLANNED TO REPLACE CHARITY HOSPITAL, WHICH HAS SAT EMPTY SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. TOM RISH, PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE STATE OFFICE OF PLANNING AND CONTROL TOLD THE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER'S BOARD ON THURSDAY THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE A FEW MONTHS LATE IN STARTING THE PROJECT, CONSTRUCTION SHOULD STILL BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE.

A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER WANTS TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR THE AUTHORITY TO CALL IN THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD TO HELP POLICE THE CITY, WHICH HAS SEEN CONTINUED MURDER RATES HIGHER THAN IN OTHER LARGE MUNICIPALITIES. REP. AUSTIN BADON, A DEMOCRAT WHO IS RUNNING FOR A NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL SEAT, IS PROPOSING TO LET THE GOVERNOR DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO ACTIVATE THE NATIONAL GUARD WHEN THE MURDER RATE IN A CITY OF 200,000 PEOPLE OR MORE IS 45 HOMICIDES PER 100,000 RESIDENTS OR HIGHER. NEW ORLEANS EXCEEDED THAT RATE IN 2010 AND 2011.

 

News For Thursday 03/01/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 030112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

QUE'IN ON THE RED, IN ALEXANDRIA, WILL NOT TAKE PLACE THIS MONTH, DUE TO A LACK OF FUNDING. MAYOR JACQUES ROY CONFIRMED THE ANNUAL BARBECUE FESTIVAL HAS BEEN PUT ON HOLD FOR NOW. THE HOPE IS SOME UNDERWRITER WILL COME FORWARD SO THE EVENT MAY BE RESURRECTED AT A LATER DATE. DUE TO REVENUE CONSTRAINTS, THE EVENT RECEIVED NO FUNDING IN THIS YEAR'S CITY BUDGET.

THE 9TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT WILL OFFER AN AMNESTY PROGRAM NEXT WEEK FOR DEFENDANTS TO PAY THEIR FINES AND COURT COSTS IN ORDER TO AVOID A CONTEMPT OF COURT ARREST FOR NONPAYMENT. THE PROGRAM ONLY APPLIES TO CASES IN THE 9TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT IN RAPIDES PARISH AND NOT TO CASES BEING HANDLED IN A MUNICIPAL COURT. TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROGRAM, THOSE WITH UNPAID FINES AND COSTS MAY GO TO THE FOURTH FLOOR OF THE RAPIDES PARISH COURTHOUSE IN ALEXANDRIA FROM 9 A.M. TO 6 P.M. NEXT TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, TO PAY THEIR FINES AND COSTS.
"CONTEMPT CHARGES FOR NON-PAYMENT WILL BE DISMISSED AND WARRANTS FOR NONPAYMENT WILL BE RECALLED,"

ESPN IS REPORTING THE SAINTS AND QUARTERBACK DREW BREES REMAIN FAR APART ON AGREEING TO A NEW CONTRACT. IF ANEW DEAL CAN'T BE REACHED BY A MONDAY'S DEADLINE THE TEAM MIGHT HAVE TO USE THE FRANCHISE TAG ON BREES. SAINTS COLOR ANALYST HOKIE GAJAN HOPES THE TEAM AND BREES CAN AGREE ON A NEW DEAL IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. WITHOUT A NEW DEAL BREES COULD BECOME A FREE AGENT AFTER MARCH 5TH.

AN LSU BOARD MEMBER DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE BOARD OF REGENTS DECISION TO APPROVE A MERGER BETWEEN LSU-SHREVEPORT AND LOUISIANA TECH. THE ISSUE WILL GO BEFORE THE STATE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR. BOARD MEMBER RONNIE ANDERSON IS CONCERED THAT SUPPORTERS OF THIS IDEA ARE MOVING TO FAST. HE SAYS THERE ARE STILL MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. THE PROPOSED CHANGE WOULD END THE SHREVEPORT COLLEGE'S AFFILIATION WITH LSU AND MOVE THE SCHOOL INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. ANDERSON SAYS THE REPORT INDICATED THAT LEADERS IN THE ENTIRE SHREVEPORT AREA ARE SUPPORTING THIS IDEA. HE SAYS THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

ABOUT 12.5 PERCENT OF ALL HOMES SOLD IN LOUISIANA IN 2011 WERE IN SOME STAGE OF FORECLOSURE. THAT'S ACCORDING REALTYTRAC, WHICH TRACKS FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE. REALTYTRAC SAID THURSDAY THAT 2,039 HOMES SOLD IN THE STATE LAST YEAR WERE IN SOME STAGE OF FORECLOSURE — RANGING FROM AN INITIAL DEFAULT NOTICE TO REPOSSESSION. THAT'S UP 17 PERCENT FROM 2010 AND 79 PERCENT FROM 2009.
REALTYTRAC SAID THE AVERAGE SALE PRICE FOR A FORECLOSED HOME IN LOUISIANA WAS JUST OVER $114,000 — 37 PERCENT LESS FOR SALES OF HOMES NOT IN FORECLOSURE.
NATIONWIDE, THERE WERE JUST OVER 907,000 FORECLOSURE SALES LAST YEAR, WHICH ACCOUNTED FOR 23 PERCENT OF ALL U.S. SALES. THOSE HOMES WENT FOR AN AVERAGE OF 32 PERCENT LESS THAN HOMES NOT IN FORECLOSURE.

A DEPUTY WITH THE ST. MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH TEN COUNTS OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL .47 YEAR OLD MIKE TOUCHET WAS TERMINATED FROM HIS POSITION WITH THE ST. MARTIN PARISH SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT AND PLACED UNDER ARREST BY THE ST MARY PARISH SHERIFFS OFFICE. AUTHORITIES SAY THE ARREST STEMMED FROM ELECTRONIC CONVERSATIONS OVER ABOUT A MONTH WITH THE JUVENILE. TOUCHET IS BEING HELD IN THE ST. MARY PARISH JAIL. BOND IS SET AT 250-THOUSAND DOLLARS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL ANNOUNCES ANOTHER EXPANSION OF "HOLLYWOOD SOUTH", AS AN ACADEMY AWARD WINNING VISUAL EFFECTS STUDIO PREPARES TO SET UP SHOP IN BATON ROUGE. PIXOMONDO WILL INVEST OVER A MILLION DOLLARS IN ITS NEW STUDIO. PIXOMONDO WON AN OSCAR FOR ITS VISUAL EFFECTS IN THE MOVIE "HUGO" AT SUNDAY'S ACADEMY AWARDS. MR. JINDAL SAYS THE GERMAN COMPANY WILL LOCATE ITS 12TH STUDIO WITHIN THE CELTIC MEDIA CENTRE--EMPLOYING ABOUT 75 PEOPLE AT GOOD SALARIES. HE CREDITS LOUISIANA'S AGGRESSIVE FILM & TV TAX CREDITS FOR THE GROWTH IN FILM & TV BUSINESS HERE.

A BOTTLED WATER COMPANY IS LOOKING AT LOCATING IN ST. LANDRY PARISH AND THE DECISION SHOULD BE MADE IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. "THEY WOULD LIKE TO OPEN IN MARCH OF 2013, WHICH MEANS THEY WOULD LIKE TO START CONSTRUCTION IN NOVEMBER OR OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR. THE PLAN IS FOR THE COMPANY TO BUILD A 350,000 SQUARE FOOT PRODUCTION FACILITY AND INITIALLY HIRE ABOUT 35 WORKERS.

ARNAUDVILLE'S BAYOU TECHE BREWING WILL BE SPOTLIGHTED IN SUNDAY'S SHOWING OF "EAT THIS, DRINK THAT" ON THE COOKING CHANNEL. BREW MASTER KARLOS KNOTT SAID HE HAS JUST BEEN INFORMED THAT TWO OF HIS BEERS WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED ON THE HOUR-LONG PROGRAM THAT SEEKS TO SPOTLIGHT LOCAL CRAFT BEERS THAT GO WELL WITH LOCAL CUISINES. THE PROGRAM WILL BE BROADCAST LOCALLY AT 7 P.M. AND AGAIN AT 11 P.M. AND WILL THEN BE REBROADCAST ON MARCH 9, 11, 17 AND 18

NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE WESLEY BISHOP OFFERS LEGISLATION FOR THE NEXT SESSION TO RENAME THE DANZIGER BRIDGE IN NEW ORLEANS TO THE MADISON BRISSETTE MEMORIAL BRIDGE. BISHOP SAYS THEY ARE RENAMING THE BRIDGE FOR THE TWO MEN WERE SHOT AND KILLED ON THE BRIDGE SIX DAYS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. BISHOP SAYS THE MOVEMENT FRO CHANGE HAS BEEN GROWING FOR YEARS. BISHOP SAYS THERE IS A CONSENSUS IN HIS COMMUNITY THAT THE NAME CHANGE IS A POSITIVE MOVE FORWARD. HE SAYS LOCAL MEDIA AS WELL AS THE DANZIGER FAMILY, FOR WHOM THE ORIGINAL BRIDGE WAS NAMED, HAS AGREED TO THE NAME CHANGE.

SEMI-FINAL CONTESTS FOR THE BOYS AND GIRLS STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GET UNDERWAY TODAY AT THREE DIFFERENT SITES...MONROE, LAKE CHARLES AND HAMMOND. LHSAA COMMISSIONER KENNY HENDERSON SAYS THIS THE FIRST TIME THEY'VE HAD THREE DIFFERENT SITES FOR SEMI-FINAL GAMES AND THE GOAL IS TO REDUCE TRAVEL FOR THE TEAMS AND THEIR FANS.





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