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Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand announced his retirement today, as the most vocal sheriff in the state will soon take to the airwaves. After spending 10 years at the helm of JPSO, Normand says a good leader knows when it’s time to leave. He adds good leaders evaluate opportunities.

“As it turns out, my next opportunity is that I have been offered to take over for Garland Robinette as the radio talk show host for WWL Radio,” Normand said.

Mid-morning host Garland Robinette announced his retirement from WWL earlier this month. The sheriff joked that he’d be stepping across the line to the dark side and joining the media. But he’s excited to lead in a different way. He says that’s what intrigued him most about this opportunity.

“I will be able to be part of stimulating and influencing the development of public opinion in so much broader of a landscape than I could ever imagine as sheriff,” Normand said.

On August 31, Chief Deputy and former state representative Joe Lopinto will be sworn in as the next sheriff of Jefferson Parish. Normand began his career in law enforcement in 1977 in Orleans Parish. He says although rewarding, it’s not an easy job.

“I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you I’m a little tired. Thinking about 1,500 men and women going home every night, it wears on you,” Normand said.



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The U.S. Senate is set to possibly vote on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Louisiana Senior Senator Bill Cassidy has authored amendments to the GOP replacement bill, but they haven’t gained much support.

UL-Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says Cassidy’s proposals run against the most conservative elements in the Republican Party.

“Cassidy has been over on the more moderate, let’s fix things, let’s make things better but that can’t get much traction in the Senate now either.”

Senator John Kennedy has proudly stated he will vote to repeal Obamacare even without a replacement. Cross says this is what got Kennedy elected to the position.

“Ran very much as an opponent to Obamacare, going to rip it out root and branch so the pressure on them to follow through now that they finally have the majority in the House and Senate is really extraordinary.”

The Edwards administration has raised concerns about repealing the current federal healthcare law. They say over 400,000 Louisiana residents are insured because of the expansion of Medicaid. Cross says Cassidy, who has worked as a doctor in the state’s charity hospital system, understands the risks of taking away health insurance to thousands.

“He’s the one who is most amenable to fixing Obamacare. He’s the one who is very concerned about the expansion of Medicaid folks but he’s also getting it from the other side, so he’s really under the gun.”



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Michelle Southern reporting. 
Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks is making waves with a campaign commercial in which he uses audio from the shooting at the GOP baseball game that injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. The ad notes Brooks came to the aid of those wounded in the attack at a Virginia baseball park.

Political analyst Dr. Silas Lee gives his take.

"Using an attempted assassination event like this can be risky," said Lee. "Steve Scalise is still recovering and he was critically injured."

A staffer for Scalise had said some people have different ideas about what's appropriate. Lee says advocates for gun rights may not be offended by the spot, but he feels most candidates would not use the audio from the shooting.

"And in a situation like this, the question needs to be asked of Mo Brooks if he would want someone to use him in an ad like that if that happened to him," said Lee.

The ad touts Brooks' support of the Second Amendment, and criticizes the media for asking questions about gun control after the shooting.

Lee says the problem with a commercial like this is that there typically isn't a grey area when it comes to gun advocacy, but it's the middle of the road voters you have to think about.

"Who might not be strong supporters of changing gun laws."

You can view the ad below:


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The 2017 NBA All-Star Game brought nearly $45 million to the state, according to a new LSU study. Co-author of the report Dr. Stephen Barnes says visitors spent a total of $24 million in the region over the weekend.

He says people who attended the game spent an average of $1,400 per person, while visitors who did not attend the game spent around $800 each.

“Those people that were coming for the main event spent a good bit more than you would see from a typical visitor, but even those other visitors are spending a lot of money in the regional economy,” Barnes said.

Barnes says the weekend event in mid-February brought hundreds of visitors, including international tourists. Those visitors tended to be more affluent and stayed for several days, which contributed to the increased spending. He says that’s what makes an event like this a real money maker.

“They’re going to be coming in from further away really looking to experience a weekend in New Orleans. There are going to be a lot of other parties hosted offsite, and all that leads to a greater amount of spending,” Barnes said.

Barnes says the NBA spent over $18 million on the event, with media promotions adding another $1.4 million. Sponsors contributed almost $4 million. He says that combined with secondary impacts is nearly $83 million in total spending, which generated over $2 million in new sales and excise taxes.

“New Orleans has to compete for events like this. So knowing what the benefits of this are to the region is an important part of that calculation of what resources should the region and the state bring to the table to try to help attract that event,” Barnes said.



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National watchdog, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, believes the $100,000 fine against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for animal abuse at its New Iberia research laboratory does not go far enough. SAEN Co-founder Michael Budkie says the USDA previously took significant action against another facility for killing a large number of animals.

“That action was to force them to surrender their registration as a laboratory and we believe the USDA should’ve done that with ULL.”

This is the fifth largest fine levied against a laboratory in the U.S. University Spokesperson Kathleen Thames released a statement saying these incidents occurred as part of routine housing and care of nonhuman primates. But Budkie disagrees as there are multiple occurrences of monkeys being neglected or killed.

“A monkey had two fingers become trapped in cage, those fingers ended up being broken. The animal developed several lacerations, eventually died of a cerebral hemorrhage.”

Budkie says other allegations against the New Iberia laboratory claim three monkeys were lost during a transfer and were not found until they all died and one primate had a broken arm that was not treated for five days. He says entities that continue to criminally abuse animals should not be allowed to break the law.

“The only way to prevent this is to make it illegal for them to use animals ever again.”



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New Orleans and Baton Rouge are among the most segregated cities in the nation, according to a report from 24/7 Wall Street. New Orleans came in at number six on the list, and Baton Rouge ranked thirteenth. Editor-In-Chief Doug McIntyre says that’s because of population concentration in the cities.

“You have sections of the city that are very heavily white and very heavily black,” McIntyre said.

In both Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the black poverty rate is roughly 30 percent, while the white poverty rate is only about 10 percent. McIntyre says that demonstrates one big problem with segregation because black neighborhoods tend to be much poorer than white neighborhoods.

“Black families tend to be more impoverished. They tend to have lower income. They tend to have lower education and worse health outcomes,” McIntyre said.

In New Orleans, about 43 percent of the black population lives in black neighborhoods, compared to 32 percent in Baton Rouge. McIntyre says the fact that those groups of people are isolated from groups that have better outcomes means that segregation helps to keep those kinds of outcomes in place.

“A city that is highly segregated makes it harder for people in the minority to have their situations improve over time,” McIntyre said.



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The state Department of Environmental Quality will distribute $12 million from the Volkswagen settlement to projects proposed by public agencies that offer long term benefits to the community. Thursday is the last day to submit a proposal.

Randy Hayden with the Louisiana Propane Gas Association says one option is to replace diesel fueled school buses 10 years and older with ones that run on propane, which would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by over 92%.

“You take a six year old little girl and you put her on a bus and you stick her in Baton Rouge traffic where there is a bus in front of her and a bus behind her and it’s belching diesel fumes, that’s a real life story and that’s not good.”

Hayden says propane is less expensive than conventional fuels as the cost falls in between the price of oil and natural gas.

“Propane compresses relatively easily and it’s stored in a relatively small tank and it’s power is very comparable, the gasoline gallon equivalent is very comparable.”

There is already a handful of school systems who use propane school buses, Lafayette, East Baton Rouge, Lafourche and Caddo Parishes. Hayden says East Baton Rouge used the historic flooding last August to start the process of switching over to propane powered school buses when they lost 168 vehicles.

“68 of that 168 were immediately replaced, 10 of those were propane powered vehicles, they’ve got an order in for 20 to 30 more propane powered vehicles.”



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Calcasieu Parish authorities have made an arrest in a 2009 cold case. The body of 19-year-old Sierra Bouzigard was found on the side of the road in November of 2009, and police have been searching for a suspect ever since. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says they used phenotyping technology to create a suspect profile from DNA found on the victim, which led to today’s arrest of 31-year-old Blake Russell.

“This is modern day science and technology with just good old fashioned police work. It’s simple as that. We could not have done it without either one,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso says his agency was the first in the state to use the Snapshot DNA Phenotyping technology. Russell was arrested this morning in DeQuincy on a charge of second degree murder. Mancuso says it means everything to give closure to the family, who have been waiting seven years for justice.

“Nothing can reward me as a sheriff more than listening to Dana and Gayle Bouzigard, the mom and grandma, weep with joy,” Mancuso said.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. Mancuso says Russell did not know the victim at all. He says Bouzigard lived a “risky lifestyle” but did not elaborate because he says it doesn’t matter, and he doesn’t think it’s important.

“What does that matter? I mean, really. She’s a victim. She was murdered for no reason, absolutely no reason,” Mancuso said.



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A Rayne man, with a history of DWI arrests, is behind bars after police say he hit a man on a bicycle while driving intoxicated. Acadia Parish Sheriff K. P. Gibson says 61-year-old Ricky Joyner of Rayne was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver, 42-year-old Ivy Roger, was nowhere to be found.

“Our deputies found the vehicle not very far from the location of the crash, but the driver had fled, unknown if he fled on his own on foot or with assistance,” Gibson said.

Gibson says deputies were able to identify the driver and track him down inside the city limits of Rayne. He says they are waiting for toxicology results to charge Roger with a DWI, but he already faces a slew of criminal charges.

“We have filed the hit and run charges. We filed a driving under suspension charge and vehicular homicide,” Gibson said, “the DWI will come forth once we finish the blood work to confirm it.”

Roger has already been charged with 5 DWIs, and Gibson says three of them were fairly recently. As Roger’s license is currently suspended, the sheriff says he shouldn’t have been driving at all.

“If a person doesn’t learn after one offense of a DWI, they’ll never learn, I don’t think. When you’re on your fifth offense and you’re still driving, there’s a major problem there where somebody has a disregard for life,” Gibson said.



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Michelle Southern reporting. 
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie has submitted his letter of retirement, and today is reportedly his last day. It's not a huge surprise as Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome had said since she took office that new leadership was needed at BRPD in the wake of the Alton Sterling shooting. She said Monday that Dabadie is an honorable man.

"He has served the people and the parish as police chief and many people appreciate his contributions to law enforcement," said Weston-Broome.

Weston-Broome was not able to fire Dabadie without cause as the chief's job is protected by civil service laws. But Political Analyst and Baton Rouge radio host Clay Young says Dabadie probably had had enough.

"And the back and forth had been going on for so long," said Young. "I think he met his required time to retire, and just said, 'It's time to move on.'"

Weston-Broome ran a campaign on the promise that she'd appoint a fresh face to the department that would help ease tensions between people and police officers. But Young says Dabadie is not a person who would be unwilling to try to work with anyone to try to make the city of Baton Rouge and the community better.

"He has never been the problem," said Young. "The discussion about what needs to happen going forward should be a lot more about process and outcomes, and less about emotion."
Weston-Broome said has appointed Lt. Johnathan Dunnam as interim chief, but says he will not be applying for the permanent position.
Dabadie's official last day of service is October 2nd, but he's using the rest of his leave time through that point. 


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Gas prices are on the rise in the Bayou State. Don Redman with AAA says gas prices in June were the lowest we’ve seen all year, which is unusual for the summer months. He says we’re already seeing an uptick in prices at the pump.

“We’re looking right now at prices just a couple of cents higher than we were a week ago, fairly in line to where we were a month ago, but we’re hanging around the $2.08 cents a gallon range statewide,” Redman said.

Redman says that’s almost 10 cents higher than we were this time last year. He expects prices will continue to climb as we get closer to Labor Day, as refineries struggle to keep up with this summer’s record demand for gasoline.

“If that demand continues at the pace that it is right now, we could see pressure put on the gas prices. We could see potentially by the time we get to Labor Day, prices statewide about $2.20 a gallon,” Redman said.

Redman says we could be looking at a 10 cent a gallon hike by the time we reach Labor Day. But he notes that’s an educated guess because a lot of factors affect prices at the pump, especially in the Gulf South.

“We’re still in hurricane season. So if we get a hurricane come in that could disrupt the refining process or the distribution process, we could see prices go much higher,” Redman said.



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A professor at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health says it’s never a good idea to carry your cell phone to the bathroom. Dr. James Diaz says a smart phone can contain more bacteria than the bathroom. He says what gets spread to our phones can get on a lot of other things we touch.

“If you’re not washing your hands after you use the bathroom it could collect bacteria from feces or it could just collect some of the normal flora that’s on your hands.”

Diaz says people need to be wary of what they’re touching every day, from door knobs to computer keyboards. He says fecal oral transmission to inanimate objects occurs when individuals don’t wash their hands after leaving the bathroom.

“Whenever you’re using the bathroom you should certainly wash your hands because anything that’s on your hands can be transferred by touch.”

Diaz suggests using an antiseptic to clean your phone screen on a regular basis. He says it’s best to never bring your cell phone into the bathroom because it poses the risk for dropping it in the toilet.

“You would really have to clean with an antiseptic particularly if the toilet is still filled with feces, that could even transmit something like cholera.”



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Louisiana’s FastStart workforce training program has been named the best in the nation by Business Facilities magazine for a record eight years in a row. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says this can help LED bring more companies to the Bayou State.

“This provides a lot of security to that company that’s considering that location or expansion here in Louisiana,” Pierson said.

Pierson says per capita, Louisiana attracts more jobs and major projects than any other state. He says although as a state we’re small in stature – having a statewide population comparable to just the Houston area – we’re standing out in a big way.

“We’ve got some big states competing against us, but to see that pound for pound we’re bringing home the highest ratio of jobs and projects speaks to the hard work that’s done by Louisiana Economic Development,” Pierson said.

Business Facilities also ranked Louisiana third for infrastructure, seventh for cost of doing business, ninth for exports and economic growth potential, and tenth for industrial electricity rates. Pierson says that’s evidenced by job growth in the state.

“Over the last year, we now have a net plus 22,000 jobs in our state. We really feel like we’ve got great momentum. The unemployment rate is dropping in all regions of our state,” Pierson said.



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A poll on the State Treasurer's race finds it to be a wide open contest. The October 14th election features three well-funded Republicans, Angele Davis, Neil Riser and John Schroder. JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon says the GOP candidates are polling in the high single digits.
"None of the three major announced Republicans in that race show any signs of early front-runner status," Couvillon said.  

Couvillon says the biggest number from his poll is the undecided, which is 60%. 
"Given that it's still relatively early in political season, nobody started spending any money, so that combined with the fact it's a down ballot state race, I was not surprised at all to see the undecideds as high as they were." 
There is a major Democrat in the race, New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards. Couvillon says in the horse race portion of the survey, Edwards polled at 18%, which is higher than the three GOP candidates. 
"If the Democratic vote remains consolidated, than conceivably even someone like Derrick Edwards, who is someone not considered a major candidate, can make the run-off. " 


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The Department of Children and Family Services launches a program aimed at improving the foster care system. On any given day, there are more than 4,000 Louisiana children in foster care. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says they want to raise expectations for foster parents and caregivers through the new Quality Parenting Initiative.

“What quality parenting is about is making sure that every single child has a quality parent 24 hours a day every day, whether that parent is their birth parent, a foster parent, a relative,” Walters said.

Walters says DCFS will work closely with foster parents, give them more authority to take care of the child, and offer help when needed. She says being a quality parent means doing everything for that child that a parent would do for their birth child.

“You go to school when they’re playing baseball. You go watch them practice band. You take them to the doctor. You take them to their therapy appointment. You take them to the dentist. You’re there for them all the time,” Walters said.

Walters says this initiative is about allowing foster parents to act more as parents instead of temporary caregivers. Assistant Director for Child Welfare Renda Hodnett says this also means DCFS will expect more of foster parents.

“Expecting them to be at the table when we’re making decisions, when we’re talking about what’s going on with the child, what is in the child’s best interest, how to we plan for that child’s future,” Hodnett said.



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New data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows Louisiana’s unemployment rate is at a three-year low at 5.5%  The June employment report shows nonfarm jobs increased by nearly 21,000 over the last 12 months.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie says three industry sectors reached all-time highs in employment.

“In construction, 155,600 workers, leisure and hospitality 236,000 and in the education and health care services, 317,000 people.”

Dejoie credits the film tax credit program for helping to boost the leisure and hospitality sector. She says they are also seeing positive signs with the oil and gas industry. She says the Houma area has gained 600 jobs from May and Lafayette has added jobs in four out of the six months.

“We’re not back where we were in Lafayette or Houma but we’re encouraged that we’ve at least seen some increases.”

Construction is the industry that saw the largest one-month gain, an additional four-thousand workers. Dejoie says Lake Charles continues to be the fastest growing market with an increase in 5,500 jobs over the last year.

“Construction of course, and it’s had continued gains and construction is leading the way in the Lake Charles region.”



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Over 2,000 soldiers from Fort Polk are deploying to Iraq this fall to handle antiterrorism operations. Base Spokesperson Kim Reischling says members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team have spent the last year training.

“They don’t get any better training than what they do right here at home right here at the Joint Readiness Training Center.”

Reischling says they are committed to providing support to the families of deployed soldiers from the Vernon Parish military base. She says Fort Polk provides many services to the spouses and children to help them with any services needed when their loved ones are in Iraq.

“Spouses whose soldiers are deployed can ask for things to be done around the house, where the husband might normally do that if he’s not around. There’s also family support groups.”

Reischling says 60% of the unit will be deployed to Iraq. She says less than 2,000men and women of the combat team will remain in Fort Polk.

“They’ll be continuing their training and doing everything that they do when they’re here anyway.”



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Louisiana will be able to export rice to China for the first time ever under a landmark trade agreement involving the U.S. and the Asian country. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain says this is a huge achievement for the rice industry.

“China consumes the equivalent of the entire U.S. rice crop every 13 days.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts China will import 5 million tons of rice in 2017 and 2018. Strain says it took so long for the trade agreement to be finalized because of safety protocols.

“Making sure there are no pests that rice from the United States into China and that’s a protocol we have with all nations in the movement with agricultural product.”

Louisiana produces the most rice in the U.S. just behind Arkansas and California. Strain says China also imports rice from other countries in south Asia but now Louisiana is in the hunt.

“Trade with all of our nation’s partners is critical to sustain Louisiana and American agriculture and this is very good news.”



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Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of claims that some Louisiana inmates are being forced to bark like dogs for food. A lawsuit on behalf of the Advocacy Center alleges the organization has a right to investigate this kind of claim.

Attorney Katie Schwartzmann with the McArthur Justice Center says they are concerned about conditions at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer based on letters they received from inmates.

“The Advocacy Center attempted to do a site inspection, and the staff at David Wade did not allow us to speak to prisoners when we were walking on the tiers, and they also did not allow us to speak to prisoners who were on suicide watch,” Schwartzmann said.

Schwartzmann says they filed the suit to get access to the prisoners. She says it’s the Advocacy Center’s job to go in and conduct an investigation when they hear claims of abuse, and unfortunately they’ve received a lot of complaints from inmates at this prison.

“We’ve received really serious allegations about the conditions in there, including physical violence against people with disabilities, prolonged use of segregation, really horrifying facts coming out of that prison,” Schwartzmann said.

Schwartzmann says one of those allegations is that prison staff has forced inmates to bark like dogs to get their food. If these allegations prove true, another suit could be filed to address the issue. She says this suit is only about getting access to the inmates.

“We’re asking the court to declare the Advocacy Center has a right to go in and investigate the conditions, and we’re asking the court to issue an order requiring the prison to allow the Advocacy Center in,” Schwartzmann said.

The Department of Corrections has not issued a comment on the suit.



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Doctors at LSU Health New Orleans helped regrow a toddler’s brain after she drowned. Two-year-old Eden Carlson lost a significant amount of brain tissue after spending 15 minutes underwater. Director of Hyperbaric Medicine, Dr. Paul Harch, says she made remarkable improvements after being treated with oxygen for 45 minutes twice a day.

Weeks later, Eden’s parents brought her to New Orleans, and Harch put her in a hyperbaric chamber.

“I dosed it at the same level of oxygen but now with pressure, and she made another very noticeable improvement with just the first hyperbaric treatment and from there just accelerated,” Harch said.

In February of 2016, Eden escaped the baby gate in her home and fell into a near-freezing pool. Eden’s heart did not beat on its own for two hours, as doctors performed CPR for 100 minutes.

Harch says after multiple hyperbaric treatments, Eden could walk and talk again, something doctors said she would never be able to do. He says even more incredible was her brain, as the toddler actually regrew the brain matter she had lost. That was evident in the MRI scans of her brain.

“The MRI came back as ‘normal,’” Harch said, “She had regrown a substantial amount of lost brain tissue, and you could see it involve the entire brain.”

Harch says Eden continues to improve today. This is the first known case of growing back both white and gray brain matter. He says the potential for future patients with similar problems is enormous. He says it will allow for a forum to look at hyperbaric oxygen treatments.

“It’s a therapy that’s been around for 350 years, and the medical profession has missed the potential application of this therapy,” Harch said.



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