KSYL Local News Archives for 2012-04

News For Monday Evening 04/30/12



20 YEAR OLD GERALD KIMBLE OF ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH THE 2ND DEGREE MURDER OF HIS BROTHER OVER THE WEEKEND AT AN OLIVE STREET HOME. 29 YEAR OLD ANTHONY KIMBLE WAS PRONOUNCED DOA AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL SATURDAY MORNING. INVESTIGATORS WITH THE APD BELIEVE IT WAS AN ARGUMENT THAT ESCALATED BETWEEN THE BROTHERS THAT LED TO THE SHOOTING. THE INVESTIGATION IS ONGOING.

THE TOWN OF MONTGOMERY IN GRANT HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GO AHEAD AND $100,000 TO MAKE REPAIRS TO THE TOWN’S SEWER SYSTEM. THE REPAIRS NEEDED TO MEET A COMPLIANCE ORDER ISSUED BY THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY.

A REPORT FROM THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR’S OFFICE SHOWS THE STATE SPENT $63.5 MILLION ON A FAILED SUGAR CANE MILL IN LACASSINE, IN JEFFERSON DAVIS PARISH, INCLUDING $6.4 MILLION IN SALARIES FOR DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY EMPLOYEES WHO BUILT THE PLANT. THE REPORT ALSO SHOWED THE STATE SPENT $8.5 MILLION TO BUILD A RAIL LINE TO SHIP CANE FROM LAKE CHARLES TO BALDWIN, BRINGING THE TOTAL BILL TO $72 MILLION. THE MILL WAS PUSHED BY FORMER AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER BOB ODOM. THE REPORT SAID THE MILL, WHICH HAS BEEN IDLE FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS, WAS BUILT FOR A GROUP OF CANE FARMERS THAT NEVER NUMBERED MORE THAN 30. ODOM HAD CONTENDED THERE WERE NO CANE MILLS WITHIN 100 MILES OF THE REGION AND THAT THE MILL WOULD PAY FOR ITSELF.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REVERSED COURSE MONDAY AND AGREED TO GIVE A 10-YEAR, $37 MILLION TAX BREAK TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS, PART OF THE STATE'S DEAL TO KEEP THE NBA TEAM. THE PROPOSAL BY REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, EXTENDS AN EXISTING TAX BREAK THAT SAVES THE TEAM $3.7 MILLION A YEAR THROUGH LOUISIANA'S QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM. HENRY'S BILL WOULD CONTINUE THE REBATE THROUGH THE 2024 NBA SEASON. OTHERWISE, THE TAX EXEMPTION EXPIRES IN 2013. HENRY'S BILL WAS SENT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE WITH A 62-37 VOTE, A WEEK AFTER IT FAILED IN THE HOUSE, GETTING ONLY 49 VOTES. IT NEEDED 53 TO PASS.

GAS PRICES HAVE CONTINUED THEIR SLOW FALL OVER THE LAST MONTH, LOOSING AN AVERAGE OF TEN CENTS A GALLON FROM THEIR PEAK IN LATE MARCH. THE CURRENT PRICE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GAS STANDS AT $3.69. AAA FUEL ANALYST SAYS WE'VE COME A LONG WAY FROM FEARS OF FOUR-DOLLAR A GALLON GAS JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO. HE SAYS THE MARKET FORCES OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND FINALLY KICKED IN AND BEGAN PUSHING PRICES DOWN.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY MATTERS IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL THAT WOULD MANDATE JAIL TIME FOR DWI'S CONVICTIONS...EVEN A FIRST OFFENSE. KAPLAN SENATOR JONATHAN PERRY SAYS HIS BILL WILL REQUIRE THAT EVERYONE CONVICTED OF DRUNK DRIVING SPEND AT LEAST TWO DAYS BEHIND BARS. PERRY SAYS CURRENT LAW ALLOWS JUDGES TO WAIVE ALL JAIL TIME IN CERTAIN DWI CASES. HE FEELS A GUARANTEED TWO DAYS IN JAIL WOULD BE A BETTER DETERRENT TO DRIVING DRUNK.

AMERICAN HISTORY COURSES IN LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS SHOULD INCLUDE INSTRUCTION ON THE NATION'S "FOUNDING PRINCIPLES," THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGREED WITHOUT OBJECTION MONDAY. REP. JOE HARRISON OF NAPOLEONVILLE, SAID MOST HIGH SCHOOLS TEACH THE LIST OF ITEMS HE WANTS TO MAKE SURE ARE INCLUDED, BUT HE SAID THE MEASURE WAS DESIGNED TO REINFORCE THAT "PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHERE WE STARTED AS A COUNTRY AND WHERE WE ARE TODAY."
ON THE LIST OF ITEMS TO BE REQUIRED TEACHING ARE: THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, SEPARATION OF POWERS, FREE ELECTIONS, EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, FEDERALISM, DUE PROCESS, INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 436) MOVES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

EXXONMOBIL CORP. SAYS IT IS CLEANING UP ABOUT 80,000 GALLONS OF OIL THAT SPILLED FROM A PIPELINE IN A RURAL POINTE COUPEE PARISH, NORTHWEST OF BATON ROUGE.
THE COMPANY SAYS THE PIPELINE WAS SHUT DOWN SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER A LOSS OF PRESSURE. THE SPILLED OIL WAS DISCOVERED ON SUNDAY. NO INJURIES HAVE BEEN REPORTED. THE COMPANY DOESN'T YET KNOW WHAT CAUSED THE PIPELINE TO BREAK.

NEW LOUISIANA SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS WOULD NO LONGER BE ABLE TO REACH THE JOB PROTECTION STATUS CALLED TENURE, IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED PASSAGE MONDAY FROM THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. CURRENTLY, SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS HAVE A PROBATIONARY TERM OF THREE YEARS. IF THEY ARE NOT DISMISSED OR FOUND UNSATISFACTORY DURING THAT TIME, THEY REACH TENURE, WHICH GIVES THEM A PERMANENT JOB STATUS AND MAKES IT HARDER FOR THEM TO BE FIRED. THE HOUSE COMMITTEE BACKED THE BILL IN A 9-3 VOTE, SENDING IT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

THE SENATE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED THAT LOUISIANA SHOULD MAKE IT A CRIME FOR ANYONE WHO IS NOT A LICENSED DOCTOR IN THE STATE TO PERFORM AN ABORTION HERE. THE PROPOSAL WOULD CARRY A PRISON SENTENCE OF ONE YEAR TO FIVE YEARS. THE BILL GOES TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

CRIMINAL COURT FEES WILL GROW $10 IN MOST DISTRICT COURTS TO HELP COVER THE COSTS OF INDIGENT DEFENSE, IF THE SENATE AGREES TO A BILL BACKED BY THE HOUSE IN AN 88-12 VOTE. THE MEASURE WOULD GENERATE MILLIONS OF NEW DOLLARS ANNUALLY TO PAY FOR DEFENSE ATTORNEYS FOR THOSE WHO ARE TOO POOR TO AFFORD THEIR OWN LAWYERS

NEW ORLEANS STATE SENATOR KAREN PETERSON IS THE NEW CHAIRPERSON OF THE STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. PETERSON OUSTED LAKE CHARLES BUSINESSMAN BUDDY LEACH AS THE PARTY'S LEADER IN A VOTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE. PETERSON IS THE FIRST WOMAN AND SECOND AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO LEAD THE STATE PARTY.

A ZACHARY MAN IS DEAD AFTER A SHOOTOUT WITH FEDERAL MARSHALS MONDAY. GARY SEALE FAILED TO SHOW UP FOR A COURT APPEARANCE. WHEN MARSHALS WENT OT HIS HOUSE, THE SHOOTOUT BEGAN. SEALE WAS FACING CHARGES OF WIRE FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND FILING BOGUS TAX RETURNS.

SPORTS..

ANOTHER IMPORTANT WEEK OF BASEBALL GETS UNDERWAY FOR FOURTH RANKED LSU. THE TIGERS HOST IN-STATE RIVAL TULANE TONIGHT AT ALEX BOX. LSU IS TRYING TO WIN AS MANY AS GAMES AS IT CAN, SO IT SECURES A NATIONAL SEED IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT. IF LSU IS A TOP EIGHT NATIONAL SEED WHEN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS COME OUT, IT WILL ALLOW THE TIGERS TO HOST A SUPER REGIONAL, IF THEY ADVANCE PAST A REGIONAL.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS HAVE AGREED TO CONTRACT TERMS WITH 18 UNDRAFTED ROOKIE FREE AGENTS, GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAID MONDAY. THE GROUP INCLUDES THREE SAFETIES, THREE LINEBACKERS, THREE WIDE RECEIVERS, TWO OFFENSIVE TACKLES, TWO DEFENSIVE LINEMEN, A RUNNING BACK, A TIGHT END, A CENTER, A DEFENSIVE BACK AND A RETURN SPECIALIST.

News For Monday 04/30/2012


NEWS FOR MONDAY 043012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO MAKE ANOTHER ATTEMPT TODAY TO GET THE HOUSE TO APPROVE MORE THAN 50-MILLION DOLLARS IN LONG-TERM TAX BREAKS FOR THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS. THE WOULD GRANT THE NBA TEAM A 3-POINT-65 MILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL TAX BREAK THROUGH THE STATE'S QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM THROUGH THE DURATION OF THE HORNETS' CONTRACT WITH THE STATE FOR THE USE OF THE NEW ORLEANS ARENA. CURRENTLY, THE STATE PAYS THE HORNETS FOR UNFILLED SEATS.

TODAY IS LOUISIANA'S 200TH BIRTHDAY. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS LAWMAKERS ARE COMMEMORATING TODAY WITH A JOINT SESSION OF THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE IN THE HOUSE CHAMBER THIS AFTERNOON. HE SAYS SPECIAL CELEBRITY GUESTS FROM LOUISIANA WILL BE THERE TO RECOGNIZE THE BICENTENNIAL. DARDENNE SAYS QUEBEC'S MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS WILL PRESENT LOUISIANA WITH A BIRTHDAY GIFT. HE SAYS THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE WILL ALSO DEDICATE LOUISIANA'S BICENTENNIAL STAMP WHICH GOES ON SALE TODAY.

AS STATE LAWMAKERS RETURN TO WORK TODAY, THEY MUST DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO USE LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY FUND" TO FILL A $211-MILLION BUDGET GAP FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR. LAKE CHARLES REP. BRETT GEYMANN IS ON THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. HE SAYS WITH 2 MONTHS LEFT IN THE FISCAL YEAR, THAT DECISION MUST COME QUICKLY.

STATE POLICE REPORT 47 YEAR OLD PAULA THERIOT OF MARKSVILLE WAS KILLED SATURDAY NIGHT WHEN THE VEHICLE SHE WAS DRIVING LEFT GUM RIDGE ROAD AND STRUCK A TREE. THERIOT WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT AND WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. A FIVE YEAR OLD PASSENGER WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED IN THE CRASH.

AN 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL FROM HAMMOND WAS IN FAIR CONDITION THREE DAYS AFTER A PAIR OF PIT BULLS MAULED HER FACE, ARMS AND LEGS. THE CHILD UNDERWENT NEARLY EIGHT HOURS OF SURGERY ON SATURDAY, FOR WHAT WAS DESCRIBED AS A NEARLY SEVERED LED AND MAJOR FACIAL LACERATIONS. THE OWNERS OF THE DOGS WERE RELEASED ON BOND AFTER BEING BOOKED FRIDAY WITH NEGLIGENT INJURY. THE GIRL AND A FRIEND WERE PLAYING FRIDAY WHEN THE DOGS ATTACKED.

38 YEAR OLD KELLIE GEISEL OF PINEVILLE, WHO WAS DRUG-IMPAIRED WHEN SHE DROVE OFF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND KILLED AN INMATE WORKER IN OCTOBER WAS SENTENCED FRIDAY TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. GEISEL ALSO WAS SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS FOR INJURING A CITY OF ALEXANDRIA EMPLOYEE WHO WAS SITTING IN A CITY TRUCK ASSISTING THE PRISON ROADSIDE CLEANUP CREW. THE SENTENCES ARE TO RUN CONCURRENT. GEISEL PLEADED GUILTY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE AND VEHICULAR NEGLIGENT INJURY CHARGES ON APRIL 8. SHE HAD FACED A MAXIMUM JAIL SENTENCE OF 35 YEARS. GEISEL WAS HIGH ON FIVE DIFFERENT DRUGS AND USING HER CELLPHONE WHEN SHE VEERED OFF THE ROADWAY, STRIKING THE WORKERS.

STATE POLICE REPORT A 58-YEAR-OLD ROBERT WILLIS WAS KILLED FRIDAY AFTERNOON WHEN HIS MOTORCYCLE STRUCK ANOTHER VEHICLE WHILE HE WAS TRYING TO ELUDE POLICE. WILLIS WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE OF THE CRASH ON LA. HIGHWAY 112, THREE MILES EAST OF DERIDDER. TROOPERS REPORT THE DRIVER OF THE SUV THAT WAS STRUCK BY WILLIS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY INJURED. POLICE REPORT WILLIS WAS DRIVING A 2008 SUZUKI EAST ON LA. 112 AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED WHEN HE STRUCK THE REAR OF AN SUV AND LOST CONTROL OF HIS MOTORCYCLE. AFTER IMPACT, THE MOTORCYCLE TRAVELED 616 FEET BEFORE COMING TO REST. WILLIS WAS ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE OFFICERS FROM THE DERIDDER POLICE DEPARTMENT.

AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A 34-YEAR-OLD MAN SHOT AND KILLED A WOMAN HE WAS LIVING WITH AND THEN SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD AND DIED. 27 YEAR OLD NIKI GARLINGTON AND 34 YEAR OLD BRANDON BONNETTE WERE FOUND DEAD IN THEIR HOME AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER ALERTED THE AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE. INVESTIGATORS SAID THE COUPLE FOUGHT AND THEN BONNETTE SHOT GARLINGTON IN THE TORSO WITH A .357 CALIBER REVOLVER. THEY SAID BONNETTE THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. OFFICIALS SAY THE COUPLE HAD NOT BEEN SEEN IN DAYS, WHICH PROMPTED FAMILY MEMBERS TO GO TO THE HOME.

LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI WAS FIRED FRIDAY BY THE SYSTEM'S GOVERNING BOARD, A MOVE LOMBARDI SUPPORTERS SAID WAS ORCHESTRATED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AFTER CONTINUED CLASHES BETWEEN LOMBARDI AND THE ADMINISTRATION OVER HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY. THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTED 12-4 TO REMOVE LOMBARDI, PUTTING HIM ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE UNTIL HIS CONTRACT ENDS AT THE START OF THE NEW YEAR. ALL OF JINDAL'S APPOINTEES, ALONG WITH FOUR OTHER BOARD MEMBERS, VOTED FOR LOMBARDI'S OUSTER.

THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION HAS PLANS TO REVIEW A PROPOSAL BY AT&T TO END AUTOMATIC DELIVERY OF THE RESIDENTIAL PHONE BOOK. INSTEAD, CONSUMERS WHO WANT TO GET THE WHITE PAGES WOULD HAVE TO REQUEST IT. PSC MEMBER LAMBERT BOISSIERE SAYS IT SHOULD BE LEFT UP TO THE CONSUMER TO DECIDE. HE SAYS IT COULD CUT DOWN ON WAIST AND UNNECESSARY EXPENSE IF A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF RESIDENTIAL PHONE BOOKS WERE NO LONGER PRINTED. PROPONENTS OF MAKING THE SWITCH TO OPTIONAL DELIVERY SAYS MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTING THE SAME INFORMATION THROUGH THEIR COMPUTER OR SIMILAR ON-LINE DEVICES. PSC CHAIRMAN FOSTER CAMPBELL SAYS THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO AREN'T COMFORTABLE WITH BEING ON-LINE AND WHO STILL DEPEND ON THEIR PHONE BOOKS.

FIRST-TIME CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DROPPED BY MORE THAN 14 PERCENT LAST WEEK IN LOUISIANA. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION REPORTS 3,076 INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 21. THAT'S DOWN FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TOTAL OF 3,606. INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE COMPARABLE WEEK ENDING APRIL 23, 2011, TOTALED 3,388.

A GRAND JURY HAS DECLINED TO INDICT A BATON ROUGE MAN WHO WAS ARRESTED AND BOOKED ON A MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE LAST YEAR AFTER HE CHASED AN ALLEGED BURGLAR FROM HIS HOME AND FATALLY SHOT HIM IN THE DRIVEWAY. AN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH GRAND JURY CHOSE NOT TO CHARGE RICHARD ALEXANDER THURSDAY WITH MANSLAUGHTER IN THE KILLING OF KEITH BROWN. DISTRICT ATTORNEY HILLAR MOORE III SAID HE AGREED WITH THE GRAND JURY'S DECISION. POLICE SAY ALEXANDER WAS INSIDE HIS HOME JAN. 28, 2011, WHEN BROWN KICKED DOWN THE DOOR AND WENT INSIDE.
ALEXANDER CONFRONTED BROWN AND CHASED HIM THROUGH THE HOUSE, OUT THE BACK DOOR AND DOWN THE DRIVEWAY. ALEXANDER TOLD POLICE WHEN HE SAW BROWN PULL AT THE WAISTLINE OF HIS PANTS, HE BEGAN SHOOTING.

LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IS INVESTIGATING REPORTS OF TELEMARKETERS CIRCUMVENTING THE DO NOT CALL PROGRAM AND TRYING TO OBTAIN PERSONAL INFORMATION THAT COULD BE USED IN IDENTITY THEFT. P-S-C MEMBER LAMBERT BOISSIERE SAYS THEY'VE RECEIVED COMPLAINTS THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE ON THE DO NOT CALL PROGRAM ARE GETTING CALLS FROM TELEMARKETERS. BOISSERIE SAYS IF YOU ARE ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST, BUT STILL RECEIVING CALLS FROM TELEMARKETERS, CONTACT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

THE RENOVATION OF NEW ORLEANS' MAJOR CONVENTION CENTER MAY BE DELAYED UNTIL THE TIME OF THE 2013 SUPER BOWL IN THE CITY. THE CENTER'S GOVERNING BOARD SAYS CONSTRUCTION COSTS ARE ABOUT $1.4 MILLION OVER THE INITIAL CONTRACT PRICE AND THE WORK IS ALREADY MORE THAN A MONTH BEHIND SCHEDULE. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS THE PROJECTED COMPLETION DATE IS FEB. 2 — ONE DAY BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL AND WELL INTO THE WEEKLONG SERIES OF EVENTS THE CENTER WILL HOST FOR THE NFL. THE NFL HAS RESERVED THE BUILDING FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. A NEARLY THREE-DECADES-OLD PORTION OF THE MEETING HALL THAT FIRST WAS USED AS THE GREAT HALL OF THE 1984 WORLD'S FAIR AND HOUSED ITS FIRST CONVENTION IN JANUARY 1985. IT HAS NOT BEEN RENOVATED SINCE.

ANN CARRUTH HAS BEEN NAMED DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF NURSING AND HEALTH SCIENCES AT SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY. HER APPOINTMENT WAS CONFIRMED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND IS EFFECTIVE ON MONDAY.
CARRUTH HAS BEEN A FACULTY MEMBER IN THE COLLEGE SINCE 1990. SHE HAD SERVED AS INTERIM DEAN SINCE JANUARY 2011.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE PATRICIA MINALDI HAS SENTENCED A FEDERAL PRISON INMATE TO FIVE YEARS FOR WRITING A THREATENING LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA.
FEDERAL COURT DOCUMENTS SAY CARLTON NEIL NORAH WAS INCARCERATED AT THE OAKDALE CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX WHEN HE WROTE THE LETTER. NORAH'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY ASKED THE COURT THURSDAY TO CONSIDER THE "BIZARRE" NATURE OF THE LETTER. SHE SAID NORAH IS MENTALLY ILL, AND WROTE THE LETTER KNOWING HE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ACT ON ANY OF THE THREATS SINCE HE WAS INCARCERATED. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN WALKER SAID IT WAS THE MOST DISTURBING LETTER HE'S EVER READ.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS MORE THAN $208 MILLION IN BRIDGE REPLACEMENT AND REPAIRS, PROVIDED THE LEGISLATURE APPROVES THE MONEY. STATEWIDE, THE DEPARTMENT EXPECTS TO BEGIN 65 REPLACEMENTS AND REPAIRS. ONE OF THE MAJOR PROJECTS ON THE LIST, THE $82.9 MILLION REPLACEMENT OF THE OK ALLEN BRIDGE THAT CROSSES THE RED RIVER ON U.S. HIGHWAY 71 BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE. COMPLETION IS PROJECTED FOR JANUARY 2014.

SIX LOGANSPORT BOYS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF CYBER-BULLYING AND BATTERY, FOR ALLEGEDLY ASSAULTING A 10-YEAR-OLD BOY, PARTIALLY STRIPPING HIM AND VIDEOTAPING THE INCIDENTS. DESOTO PARISH SHERIFF'S SPOKESMAN SGT. CHATO ATKINS SAYS THE DISTURBING VIDEO SHOWS THE BOYS COMMITTING SEXUAL BATTERY ON THE VICTIM. ATKINS SAYS THE SIX BOYS - AGES 11 TO 15 - ATTACKED THE CHILD ON AT LEAST THREE OCCASIONS; VIDEOTAPING THE ABUSE AND SHOWING IT TO CLASSMATES. ATKINS SAYS TEACHERS HEARD ABOUT IT AND REPORTED IT TO AUTHORITIES, WHO SEIZED THE YOUTH'S CELL PHONE CAMERAS.

SPORTS..

THE THIRD RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM HAD ITS 14-GAME HOME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED YESTERDAY. GEORGIA HELD ON TO BEAT THE TIGERS FIVE TO THREE. DESPITE SUNDAY'S LOSS, THE TIGERS STILL TOOK TWO OUT OF THREE FROM GEORGIA. THE TIGERS ARE 14-AND-7 IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE AND TIED WITH KENTUCKY FOR THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ARE BRINGING DEFENSIVE TACKLE AKIEM HICKS BACK TO LOUISIANA, THREE YEARS AFTER HIS CHANCE TO PLAY MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL FOR LSU FIZZLED BEFORE IT HAD EVEN BEGUN. THE SAINTS TOOK THE 6-FOOT-5, 318-POUND HICKS, IN FRIDAY NIGHT'S THIRD ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT, ADDING DEPTH TO AN INTERIOR LINE THAT NEEDED IT. TAKEN 89TH OVERALL, HICKS WAS THE FIRST PLAYER CHOSEN BY NEW ORLEANS, WHICH DID NOT HAVE A PICK IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS. THE SAINTS HAD NO FIRST-ROUND CHOICE BECAUSE IT WAS TRADED TO NEW ENGLAND LAST YEAR SO NEW ORLEANS COULD DRAFT MARK INGRAM. THEIR SECOND-ROUND PICK WAS ELIMINATED AS PART OF THE CLUB'S BOUNTY PUNISHMENT.



News For Saturday 04/28/12


NEWS FOR SATURDAY 042812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

38 YEAR OLD KELLIE GEISEL OF PINEVILLE, WHO WAS DRUG-IMPAIRED WHEN SHE DROVE OFF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND KILLED AN INMATE WORKER IN OCTOBER WAS SENTENCED FRIDAY TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR VEHICULAR HOMICIDE. GEISEL ALSO WAS SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS FOR INJURING A CITY OF ALEXANDRIA EMPLOYEE WHO WAS SITTING IN A CITY TRUCK ASSISTING THE PRISON ROADSIDE CLEANUP CREW. THE SENTENCES ARE TO RUN CONCURRENT. GEISEL PLEADED GUILTY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE AND VEHICULAR NEGLIGENT INJURY CHARGES ON APRIL 8. SHE HAD FACED A MAXIMUM JAIL SENTENCE OF 35 YEARS. GEISEL WAS HIGH ON FIVE DIFFERENT DRUGS AND USING HER CELLPHONE WHEN SHE VEERED OFF THE ROADWAY, STRIKING THE WORKERS.

STATE POLICE REPORT A 58-YEAR-OLD ROBERT WILLIS WAS KILLED FRIDAY AFTERNOON WHEN HIS MOTORCYCLE STRUCK ANOTHER VEHICLE WHILE HE WAS TRYING TO ELUDE POLICE. WILLIS WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE OF THE CRASH ON LA. HIGHWAY 112, THREE MILES EAST OF DERIDDER. TROOPERS REPORT THE DRIVER OF THE SUV THAT WAS STRUCK BY WILLIS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY INJURED. POLICE REPORT WILLIS WAS DRIVING A 2008 SUZUKI EAST ON LA. 112 AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED WHEN HE STRUCK THE REAR OF AN SUV AND LOST CONTROL OF HIS MOTORCYCLE. AFTER IMPACT, THE MOTORCYCLE TRAVELED 616 FEET BEFORE COMING TO REST. WILLIS WAS ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE OFFICERS FROM THE DERIDDER POLICE DEPARTMENT.

AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY A 34-YEAR-OLD MAN SHOT AND KILLED A WOMAN HE WAS LIVING WITH AND THEN SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD AND DIED. 27 YEAR OLD NIKI GARLINGTON AND 34 YEAR OLD BRANDON BONNETTE WERE FOUND DEAD IN THEIR HOME AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER ALERTED THE AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE. INVESTIGATORS SAID THE COUPLE FOUGHT AND THEN BONNETTE SHOT GARLINGTON IN THE TORSO WITH A .357 CALIBER REVOLVER. THEY SAID BONNETTE THEN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. OFFICIALS SAY THE COUPLE HAD NOT BEEN SEEN IN DAYS, WHICH PROMPTED FAMILY MEMBERS TO GO TO THE HOME.

LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI WAS FIRED FRIDAY BY THE SYSTEM'S GOVERNING BOARD, A MOVE LOMBARDI SUPPORTERS SAID WAS ORCHESTRATED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AFTER CONTINUED CLASHES BETWEEN LOMBARDI AND THE ADMINISTRATION OVER HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY. THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTED 12-4 TO REMOVE LOMBARDI, PUTTING HIM ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE UNTIL HIS CONTRACT ENDS AT THE START OF THE NEW YEAR. ALL OF JINDAL'S APPOINTEES, ALONG WITH FOUR OTHER BOARD MEMBERS, VOTED FOR LOMBARDI'S OUSTER. LOMBARDI WAS HIRED IN 2007 AFTER RECEIVING STRONG PRAISE FOR HIS YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION. BUT HIS TENURE IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN MARKED WITH BUDGET STRUGGLES AND MANAGEMENT DISPUTES, AND HE'S RANKLED SOME FOR HIS OUTSPOKEN CANDOR. LOMBARDI'S CRITICIZED THE POLITICALLY POPULAR FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM CALLED TOPS, AND HE'S CLASHED WITH THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION OVER BUDGET PLANS, CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW PUBLIC HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS AND HIGHER EDUCATION MANAGEMENT.

FIRST-TIME CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DROPPED BY MORE THAN 14 PERCENT LAST WEEK IN LOUISIANA. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION REPORTS 3,076 INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 21. THAT'S DOWN FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK'S TOTAL OF 3,606. INITIAL CLAIMS FOR THE COMPARABLE WEEK ENDING APRIL 23, 2011, TOTALED 3,388.

A GRAND JURY HAS DECLINED TO INDICT A BATON ROUGE MAN WHO WAS ARRESTED AND BOOKED ON A MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE LAST YEAR AFTER HE CHASED AN ALLEGED BURGLAR FROM HIS HOME AND FATALLY SHOT HIM IN THE DRIVEWAY. AN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH GRAND JURY CHOSE NOT TO CHARGE RICHARD ALEXANDER THURSDAY WITH MANSLAUGHTER IN THE KILLING OF KEITH BROWN. DISTRICT ATTORNEY HILLAR MOORE III SAID HE AGREED WITH THE GRAND JURY'S DECISION. POLICE SAY ALEXANDER WAS INSIDE HIS HOME JAN. 28, 2011, WHEN BROWN KICKED DOWN THE DOOR AND WENT INSIDE.
ALEXANDER CONFRONTED BROWN AND CHASED HIM THROUGH THE HOUSE, OUT THE BACK DOOR AND DOWN THE DRIVEWAY. ALEXANDER TOLD POLICE WHEN HE SAW BROWN PULL AT THE WAISTLINE OF HIS PANTS, HE BEGAN SHOOTING.

LOUISIANA'S REPUBLICAN PARTY IS HOLDING CAUCUSES TODAY, PART OF A PROCESS TO CHOOSE DELEGATES WHO WILL ATTEND THE GOP'S PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING CONVENTION IN AUGUST. GOP VOTERS WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE CAUCUSES WILL ELECT DELEGATES TO THE LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN STATE CONVENTION, SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 2. THE DELEGATES TO THE STATE CONVENTION WILL CHOOSE DELEGATES WHO WILL ATTEND THE NATIONAL CONVENTION IN AUGUST. TWENTY-FIVE DELEGATES AND 12 ALTERNATES WILL BE SELECTED FROM EACH OF THE STATE'S SIX CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. MORE THAN 600 REPUBLICANS ARE RUNNING FOR THE SEATS.

THE RENOVATION OF NEW ORLEANS' MAJOR CONVENTION CENTER MAY BE DELAYED UNTIL THE TIME OF THE 2013 SUPER BOWL IN THE CITY. THE CENTER'S GOVERNING BOARD SAYS CONSTRUCTION COSTS ARE ABOUT $1.4 MILLION OVER THE INITIAL CONTRACT PRICE AND THE WORK IS ALREADY MORE THAN A MONTH BEHIND SCHEDULE. THE TIMES-PICAYUNE REPORTS THE PROJECTED COMPLETION DATE IS FEB. 2 — ONE DAY BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL AND WELL INTO THE WEEKLONG SERIES OF EVENTS THE CENTER WILL HOST FOR THE NFL. THE NFL HAS RESERVED THE BUILDING FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. A NEARLY THREE-DECADES-OLD PORTION OF THE MEETING HALL THAT FIRST WAS USED AS THE GREAT HALL OF THE 1984 WORLD'S FAIR AND HOUSED ITS FIRST CONVENTION IN JANUARY 1985. IT HAS NOT BEEN RENOVATED SINCE.

ANN CARRUTH HAS BEEN NAMED DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF NURSING AND HEALTH SCIENCES AT SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY. HER APPOINTMENT WAS CONFIRMED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND IS EFFECTIVE ON MONDAY.
CARRUTH HAS BEEN A FACULTY MEMBER IN THE COLLEGE SINCE 1990. SHE HAD SERVED AS INTERIM DEAN SINCE JANUARY 2011.

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ARE BRINGING DEFENSIVE TACKLE AKIEM HICKS BACK TO LOUISIANA, THREE YEARS AFTER HIS CHANCE TO PLAY MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL FOR LSU FIZZLED BEFORE IT HAD EVEN BEGUN. THE SAINTS TOOK THE 6-FOOT-5, 318-POUND HICKS, IN FRIDAY NIGHT'S THIRD ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT, ADDING DEPTH TO AN INTERIOR LINE THAT NEEDED IT. "HEIGHT, WEIGHT, SPEED — (HICKS IS) THE KIND OF GUY THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IN OUR DEFENSIVE SYSTEM," SAID SAINTS ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT, WHO IS HANDLING HEAD COACHING DUTIES DURING SEAN PAYTON'S SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION IN CONNECTION WITH THE NFL'S BOUNTY INVESTIGATION. "WE LOVE HIS TENACITY. WE KNOW HE'S RAW. HE'S GOT TO BE COACHED, BUT THAT'S THE FUN PART," VITT SAID. "HE FITS THE CHARACTER OF OUR FOOTBALL TEAM. HE'S GOT GOOD WORK HABITS. WE LOVE HIS RESILIENCY." TAKEN 89TH OVERALL, HICKS WAS THE FIRST PLAYER CHOSEN BY NEW ORLEANS, WHICH DID NOT HAVE A PICK IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS. THE SAINTS HAD NO FIRST-ROUND CHOICE BECAUSE IT WAS TRADED TO NEW ENGLAND LAST YEAR SO NEW ORLEANS COULD DRAFT MARK INGRAM. THEIR SECOND-ROUND PICK WAS ELIMINATED AS PART OF THE CLUB'S BOUNTY PUNISHMENT.

U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE PATRICIA MINALDI HAS SENTENCED A FEDERAL PRISON INMATE TO FIVE YEARS FOR WRITING A THREATENING LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA.
FEDERAL COURT DOCUMENTS SAY CARLTON NEIL NORAH WAS INCARCERATED AT THE OAKDALE CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX WHEN HE WROTE THE LETTER. THE AMERICAN PRESS REPORTS (HTTP://BIT.LY/QJFACS ) NORAH'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY ASKED THE COURT THURSDAY TO CONSIDER THE "BIZARRE" NATURE OF THE LETTER. SHE SAID NORAH IS MENTALLY ILL, AND WROTE THE LETTER KNOWING HE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ACT ON ANY OF THE THREATS SINCE HE WAS INCARCERATED. NORAH APOLOGIZED TO THE COURT FOR HIS ACTIONS, AND FOR "WASTING TIME". MINALDI ASKED WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO STOP NORAH, WHO HAS MADE SIMILAR THREATS BEFORE, FROM DOING IT AGAIN. HE SAID HE THINKS HE IS DONE, BUT HE DOESN'T "KNOW WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS". ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY JOHN WALKER SAID IT WAS THE MOST DISTURBING LETTER HE'S EVER READ.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS MORE THAN $208 MILLION IN BRIDGE REPLACEMENT AND REPAIRS, PROVIDED THE LEGISLATURE APPROVES THE MONEY. STATEWIDE, THE DEPARTMENT EXPECTS TO BEGIN 65 REPLACEMENTS AND REPAIRS. THE STATE'S WORST PROBLEM BRIDGE, ACCORDING TO STATE OFFICIALS, IS THE MILE AND A HALF STRETCH OF TWIN BRIDGES ON U.S. HIGHWAY 90 EAST OF MORGAN CITY. INSPECTORS RECENTLY FOUND CRACKS IN SUPPORT BEAMS.
AMONG BRIDGES IN OUACHITA PARISH EXPECTED TO SEE CHANGES ARE THE MISSOURI PACIFIC RAILROAD BRIDGE, AN OVERPASS ON U.S. HIGHWAY 80 AND THE INTERSTATE 20 BRIDGE OVER THE OUACHITA RIVER. WORK WILL BEGIN IN MAY ON REPAIRING THE U.S. HIGHWAY 190 MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE IN BATON ROUGE. THE PROJECT IS EXPECTED TO TAKE TWO YEARS. THE DEPARTMENT IS WORKING SEVERAL MAJOR PROJECTS, THE LARGEST BEING THE $1.2 BILLION WIDENING OF THE HUEY P. LONG BRIDGE IN JEFFERSON PARISH, WHICH IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN 2013. ANOTHER MAJOR PROJECT IS THE $82.9 MILLION REPLACEMENT OF THE FORT BUHLOW BRIDGE THAT CROSSES THE RED RIVER ON U.S. HIGHWAY 71 BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE. COMPLETION IS PROJECTED FOR JANUARY 2014.






News For Friday 04/27/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 042712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A PINEVILLE CHURCH HAS GONE SILENT, AFTER THIEVES STEAL THE 400 POUND BELL THAT'S RUNG THE FAITHFUL TO SERVICES FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS. NEW LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH HAD THE BELL HANGING IN A FREE-STANDING WOODEN TOWER. AUTHORITIES ARE SEEKING A GREY, FORD F-150 EXTENDED CAB PICKUP WITH GREEN WAVES PAINTED DOWN THE SIDE. THE VEHICLE WAS SEEN LEAVING THE AREA...WITH THE BELL IN ITS BED.

WE MAY FIND OUT NEXT WEEK WHAT CERTAIN MEMBER OF THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAVE UP THEIR SLEEVES, AS THE BOARD IS EXPECTED TO DISCUSS, TUESDAY NIGHT, THE FUTURE OF SUPERINTENDENT GARY L. JONES. JONES IS UNDER CONTRACT THROUGH DEC. 31. A MOTION IN NOVEMBER TO EXTEND HIS CONTRACT FOR TWO MORE YEARS FAILED. INSTEAD, THE BOARD VOTED 5-4 TO CONSIDER HIS FUTURE STATUS IN SEPTEMBER. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON, WHO SPONSORED TUESDAY’S MOTION, WAS AMONG THE FIVE WHO VOTED TO TABLE JONES’ CONTRACT STATUS IN NOVEMBER.

LOUISIANA SENATORS REFUSED THURSDAY TO REPEAL A LAW THAT BANS EMPLOYERS FROM DISCRIMINATING AGAINST SMOKERS, AFTER OPPONENTS SAID THE CHANGE COULD LEAD TO WIDESPREAD FIRINGS. MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO, LEGISLATORS PASSED A LAW PROTECTING SMOKERS FROM WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION. SEN. FRED MILLS AND SUPPORTERS OF REPEALING THE STATUTE SAID SMOKERS SHOULDN'T EXPECT EMPLOYERS AND CO-WORKERS TO BEAR THE HIGHER INSURANCE COSTS TO COVER THEM. THEY PITCHED THE BILL AS A WAY TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO QUIT AND TO IMPROVE HEALTH IN A STATE WITH SOME OF THE WORST HEALTH CARE STATISTICS IN THE COUNTRY. THE REPEAL, SOUGHT BY HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE LEADERS, WAS NARROWLY REJECTED IN A 3-2 VOTE BY THE SENATE LABOR COMMITTEE.

PERSONAL INCOME IN THE STATE CONTINUES TO RISE ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY THE U.S BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS. TOTAL PERSONAL INCOME IN LOUISIANA FOR 2011 WAS $176.5-BILLION, AN INCREASE OF NEARLY FIVE-PERCENT FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT FEELS THE TREND WILL CONTINUE. HE SAYS THE BOOM IN THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY, FUELED BY LOW NATURAL GAS PRICES, WILL ADD LARGE NUMBERS OF WELL PAID JOBS IN AREAS AROUND LAKE CHARLES AND BATON ROUGE IN COMING YEARS.

LAWMAKERS ARE WEIGHING WHETHER TO USE LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND TO HELP FILL A $211 MILLION GAP IN THIS YEAR'S BUDGET. HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY SAID THURSDAY THAT HE'S WILLING TO LOOK AT USING THE MONEY BECAUSE HE'S WORRIED THAT OTHERWISE PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS WOULD FACE DEEP CUTS THAT COULD DAMAGE SERVICES. THE STATE'S REVENUE FORECASTING PANEL DOWNGRADED INCOME PROJECTIONS THIS WEEK, AS INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS REMAIN SLUGGISH AND BELOW EXPECTATIONS. THE REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE DROPPED THIS YEAR'S FORECAST BY NEARLY $211 MILLION AND NEXT YEAR'S FORECAST BY $304 MILLION. LOUISIANA IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A BALANCED BUDGET EACH YEAR.

SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAYS HE'S "ANGRY" ABOUT ALLEGATIONS THAT HIS SUPERDOME BOOTH WAS WIRED SO HE COULD EAVESDROP ON OPPOSING COACHES RADIO CONVERSATIONS. LOOMIS SAYS HE HAS A CLEAR CONSCIENCE AND WELCOMES A JOINT INVESTIGATION BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND THE FBI. LOOMIS ALSO SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS THAT DREW BREES' NEXT CONTRACT WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE HE HAS EVER DONE AND HE PLEDGES IT WILL EVENTUALLY GET DONE. HE SAYS BREES HAS EARNED THE RIGHT NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT THAT HE LIKES, BUT THAT THE SAINTS MUST FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN MAKING THE STAR QUARTERBACK HAPPY AND KEEPING THE WHOLE TEAM COMPETITIVE. LOOMIS SPOKE SHORTLY BEFORE THURSDAY NIGHT'S FIRST ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT. BARRING A TRADE, THE SAINTS HAVE NO PICK UNTIL TONIGHT'S THIRD ROUND.

JAZZ HORNS, CAJUN FIDDLES, ZYDECO WASHBOARDS AND ROCK GUITARS — THEY'LL ALL BE HEARD AT THE SAME PLACE FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKENDS WHEN THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL KICKS OFF TODAY. THE FESTIVAL KNOWN SIMPLY AS JAZZ FEST SPANS TWO WEEKENDS, FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY .

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS ON THE ROAD FOR A STRING OF REPUBLICAN MONEY-RAISING EVENTS. JINDAL'S OFFICE SAID THE GOP GOVERNOR WAS IN SALT LAKE CITY YESTERDAY FOR A FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT UTAH GOV. GARY HERBERT AND TO DENVER FOR A FUNDRAISER FOR THE COLORADO REPUBLICAN PARTY. TODAY, THE GOVERNOR IS IN ALBUQUERQUE TO DRUM UP CASH FOR NEW MEXICO GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ AND TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF NEW MEXICO. LOUISIANA'S GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO BE BACK IN BATON ROUGE THIS EVENING.

LAFAYETTE GENERAL MEDICAL CENTER WILL SOON CLOSE ITS PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. HOSPITAL OFFICIALS SAY LOW PATIENT DEMAND IS RESPONSIBLE. THE CLOSURE WILL LEAVE LAFAYETTE WITH ONLY ONE PICU , A 13-BED UNIT OPERATED AT WOMEN'S & CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL.

A FEDERAL JURY HAS FOUND THAT CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF RANDY MAXWELL DID NOT MALICIOUSLY PROSECUTE JAMES WHITTINGTON IN 2003. WHITTINGTON HAD CLAIMED HE WAS THE VICTIM OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT VENDETTA WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED IN 2003. HE FILED THE LAWSUIT IN 2008. COURT RECORDS SHOW WHITTINGTON WAS ARRESTED FOR SIMPLE ROBBERY, TELEPHONE HARASSMENT AND STALKING AFTER ALLEGEDLY TAKING TWO RINGS FROM A FORMER GIRLFRIEND. WHITTINGTON CLAIMED THE CHARGES WERE TRUMPED UP AFTER HE RAN A HEATED ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN 2003 AGAINST MAXWELL. MAXWELL HAD DENIED THE ALLEGATIONS. MAXWELL'S ATTORNEY ARGUED TO THE JURY THAT THE WOMAN FILED THE COMPLAINT AGAINST WHITTINGTON AND MAXWELL WAS ONLY DOING HIS JOB IN MAKING THE ARREST.

A BILL AIMED AT PUTTING THE BRAKES ON RED LIGHT CAMERAS HAS BEEN SHELVED BY ITS SPONSOR. METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY TEMPORARILY WITHDREW HIS MEASURE, AFTER A LENGTHY DISCUSSION WITH MEMBERS OF THE STATE MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION, WHO ARE PRIMARY SUPPORTERS OF THE TRAFFIC CAMS. MARTINY WANTS A LAW REQUIRING APPROVAL BY VOTERS IN EACH CITY, FOR TRAFFIC CAMS USE TO CONTINUE.

THE 2012 LOUISIANA HOT AIR BALLOON CHAMPIONSHIP HAS FOUND A NEW HOME AT THE LAMAR-DIXON EXPO CENTER IN ASCENSION PARISH. THE SEARCH FOR A NEW LOCATION BEGAN WHEN THE PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL CENTER ANNOUNCED THEY WOULD NO LONGER HOST THE EVENT. THIS YEARS CHAMPIONSHIP IS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 3RD THROUGH THE 5TH, WITH COMPETITION FLIGHTS EVERY DAY ON THE BATON ROUGE AREA.

A 34-YEAR-OLD SULPHUR MAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 24 YEARS AND FIVE MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ENTICING MINORS TO ENGAGE IN CRIMINAL SEXUAL ACTIVITIES AND PRODUCING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. JAMY CHURCH ALSO WAS ORDERED THURSDAY BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE PATRICIA MINALDI TO BE ON SUPERVISED RELEASE FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE AFTER HE LEAVES PRISON. PROSECUTORS SAID CHURCH CREATED MULTIPLE FACEBOOK PAGES USING THE NAMES AND IMAGES OF HIGH SCHOOL FEMALES. AUTHORITIES SAID CHURCH THEN CONTACTED BOYS AND GOT THEM TO SEND SEXUALLY EXPLICIT IMAGES OF THEMSELVES AFTER THEY WERE CONTACTED BY THE FAKE FEMALES. PROSECUTORS SAID OVER 50 BOYS WERE VICTIMIZED BY THE SCHEME, WHICH BEGAN IN 2009.

SIX STUDENTS AT BELLE CHASSE HIGH SCHOOL HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AFTER A SWEEP FOUND WEAPONS, INCLUDING A 12-GAUGE SHOTGUN, AND DRUGS IN STUDENTS' CARS.
THE PLAQUEMINES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE CONDUCTED A SEARCH AFTER GETTING A TIP ABOUT ILLEGAL DRUGS. A K-9 OFFICER HELPED LOCATE SOME WEAPONS AS WELL AS MARIJUANA IN SEVERAL OF CARS PARKED ON CAMPUS. SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAID THURSDAY THAT THE CONFISCATED WEAPONS WERE NOT PART OF ANY MALICIOUS PLOT. PRINCIPAL JEMI CARLONE SAYS MANY STUDENTS ARE AVID HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN AND SIMPLY FORGOT TO REMOVE THE WEAPONS FROM THEIR CARS.




News For Friday 04/27/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 042712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A PINEVILLE CHURCH HAS GONE SILENT, AFTER THIEVES STEAL THE 400 POUND BELL THAT'S RUNG THE FAITHFUL TO SERVICES FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS. NEW LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH HAD THE BELL HANGING IN A FREE-STANDING WOODEN TOWER. AUTHORITIES ARE SEEKING A GREY, FORD F-150 EXTENDED CAB PICKUP WITH GREEN WAVES PAINTED DOWN THE SIDE. THE VEHICLE WAS SEEN LEAVING THE AREA...WITH THE BELL IN ITS BED.

WE MAY FIND OUT NEXT WEEK WHAT CERTAIN MEMBER OF THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAVE UP THEIR SLEEVES, AS THE BOARD IS EXPECTED TO DISCUSS, TUESDAY NIGHT, THE FUTURE OF SUPERINTENDENT GARY L. JONES. JONES IS UNDER CONTRACT THROUGH DEC. 31. A MOTION IN NOVEMBER TO EXTEND HIS CONTRACT FOR TWO MORE YEARS FAILED. INSTEAD, THE BOARD VOTED 5-4 TO CONSIDER HIS FUTURE STATUS IN SEPTEMBER. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON, WHO SPONSORED TUESDAY’S MOTION, WAS AMONG THE FIVE WHO VOTED TO TABLE JONES’ CONTRACT STATUS IN NOVEMBER.

LOUISIANA SENATORS REFUSED THURSDAY TO REPEAL A LAW THAT BANS EMPLOYERS FROM DISCRIMINATING AGAINST SMOKERS, AFTER OPPONENTS SAID THE CHANGE COULD LEAD TO WIDESPREAD FIRINGS. MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO, LEGISLATORS PASSED A LAW PROTECTING SMOKERS FROM WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION. SEN. FRED MILLS AND SUPPORTERS OF REPEALING THE STATUTE SAID SMOKERS SHOULDN'T EXPECT EMPLOYERS AND CO-WORKERS TO BEAR THE HIGHER INSURANCE COSTS TO COVER THEM. THEY PITCHED THE BILL AS A WAY TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO QUIT AND TO IMPROVE HEALTH IN A STATE WITH SOME OF THE WORST HEALTH CARE STATISTICS IN THE COUNTRY. THE REPEAL, SOUGHT BY HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE LEADERS, WAS NARROWLY REJECTED IN A 3-2 VOTE BY THE SENATE LABOR COMMITTEE.

PERSONAL INCOME IN THE STATE CONTINUES TO RISE ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY THE U.S BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS. TOTAL PERSONAL INCOME IN LOUISIANA FOR 2011 WAS $176.5-BILLION, AN INCREASE OF NEARLY FIVE-PERCENT FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT FEELS THE TREND WILL CONTINUE. HE SAYS THE BOOM IN THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY, FUELED BY LOW NATURAL GAS PRICES, WILL ADD LARGE NUMBERS OF WELL PAID JOBS IN AREAS AROUND LAKE CHARLES AND BATON ROUGE IN COMING YEARS.

LAWMAKERS ARE WEIGHING WHETHER TO USE LOUISIANA'S "RAINY DAY" FUND TO HELP FILL A $211 MILLION GAP IN THIS YEAR'S BUDGET. HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY SAID THURSDAY THAT HE'S WILLING TO LOOK AT USING THE MONEY BECAUSE HE'S WORRIED THAT OTHERWISE PUBLIC COLLEGES AND HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS WOULD FACE DEEP CUTS THAT COULD DAMAGE SERVICES. THE STATE'S REVENUE FORECASTING PANEL DOWNGRADED INCOME PROJECTIONS THIS WEEK, AS INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS REMAIN SLUGGISH AND BELOW EXPECTATIONS. THE REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE DROPPED THIS YEAR'S FORECAST BY NEARLY $211 MILLION AND NEXT YEAR'S FORECAST BY $304 MILLION. LOUISIANA IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A BALANCED BUDGET EACH YEAR.

SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAYS HE'S "ANGRY" ABOUT ALLEGATIONS THAT HIS SUPERDOME BOOTH WAS WIRED SO HE COULD EAVESDROP ON OPPOSING COACHES RADIO CONVERSATIONS. LOOMIS SAYS HE HAS A CLEAR CONSCIENCE AND WELCOMES A JOINT INVESTIGATION BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND THE FBI. LOOMIS ALSO SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS THAT DREW BREES' NEXT CONTRACT WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE HE HAS EVER DONE AND HE PLEDGES IT WILL EVENTUALLY GET DONE. HE SAYS BREES HAS EARNED THE RIGHT NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT THAT HE LIKES, BUT THAT THE SAINTS MUST FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN MAKING THE STAR QUARTERBACK HAPPY AND KEEPING THE WHOLE TEAM COMPETITIVE. LOOMIS SPOKE SHORTLY BEFORE THURSDAY NIGHT'S FIRST ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT. BARRING A TRADE, THE SAINTS HAVE NO PICK UNTIL TONIGHT'S THIRD ROUND.

JAZZ HORNS, CAJUN FIDDLES, ZYDECO WASHBOARDS AND ROCK GUITARS — THEY'LL ALL BE HEARD AT THE SAME PLACE FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKENDS WHEN THE NEW ORLEANS JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL KICKS OFF TODAY. THE FESTIVAL KNOWN SIMPLY AS JAZZ FEST SPANS TWO WEEKENDS, FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY .

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IS ON THE ROAD FOR A STRING OF REPUBLICAN MONEY-RAISING EVENTS. JINDAL'S OFFICE SAID THE GOP GOVERNOR WAS IN SALT LAKE CITY YESTERDAY FOR A FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT UTAH GOV. GARY HERBERT AND TO DENVER FOR A FUNDRAISER FOR THE COLORADO REPUBLICAN PARTY. TODAY, THE GOVERNOR IS IN ALBUQUERQUE TO DRUM UP CASH FOR NEW MEXICO GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ AND TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF NEW MEXICO. LOUISIANA'S GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO BE BACK IN BATON ROUGE THIS EVENING.

LAFAYETTE GENERAL MEDICAL CENTER WILL SOON CLOSE ITS PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. HOSPITAL OFFICIALS SAY LOW PATIENT DEMAND IS RESPONSIBLE. THE CLOSURE WILL LEAVE LAFAYETTE WITH ONLY ONE PICU , A 13-BED UNIT OPERATED AT WOMEN'S & CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL.

A FEDERAL JURY HAS FOUND THAT CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF RANDY MAXWELL DID NOT MALICIOUSLY PROSECUTE JAMES WHITTINGTON IN 2003. WHITTINGTON HAD CLAIMED HE WAS THE VICTIM OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT VENDETTA WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED IN 2003. HE FILED THE LAWSUIT IN 2008. COURT RECORDS SHOW WHITTINGTON WAS ARRESTED FOR SIMPLE ROBBERY, TELEPHONE HARASSMENT AND STALKING AFTER ALLEGEDLY TAKING TWO RINGS FROM A FORMER GIRLFRIEND. WHITTINGTON CLAIMED THE CHARGES WERE TRUMPED UP AFTER HE RAN A HEATED ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN 2003 AGAINST MAXWELL. MAXWELL HAD DENIED THE ALLEGATIONS. MAXWELL'S ATTORNEY ARGUED TO THE JURY THAT THE WOMAN FILED THE COMPLAINT AGAINST WHITTINGTON AND MAXWELL WAS ONLY DOING HIS JOB IN MAKING THE ARREST.

A BILL AIMED AT PUTTING THE BRAKES ON RED LIGHT CAMERAS HAS BEEN SHELVED BY ITS SPONSOR. METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY TEMPORARILY WITHDREW HIS MEASURE, AFTER A LENGTHY DISCUSSION WITH MEMBERS OF THE STATE MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION, WHO ARE PRIMARY SUPPORTERS OF THE TRAFFIC CAMS. MARTINY WANTS A LAW REQUIRING APPROVAL BY VOTERS IN EACH CITY, FOR TRAFFIC CAMS USE TO CONTINUE.

THE 2012 LOUISIANA HOT AIR BALLOON CHAMPIONSHIP HAS FOUND A NEW HOME AT THE LAMAR-DIXON EXPO CENTER IN ASCENSION PARISH. THE SEARCH FOR A NEW LOCATION BEGAN WHEN THE PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL CENTER ANNOUNCED THEY WOULD NO LONGER HOST THE EVENT. THIS YEARS CHAMPIONSHIP IS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 3RD THROUGH THE 5TH, WITH COMPETITION FLIGHTS EVERY DAY ON THE BATON ROUGE AREA.

A 34-YEAR-OLD SULPHUR MAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 24 YEARS AND FIVE MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ENTICING MINORS TO ENGAGE IN CRIMINAL SEXUAL ACTIVITIES AND PRODUCING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. JAMY CHURCH ALSO WAS ORDERED THURSDAY BY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE PATRICIA MINALDI TO BE ON SUPERVISED RELEASE FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE AFTER HE LEAVES PRISON. PROSECUTORS SAID CHURCH CREATED MULTIPLE FACEBOOK PAGES USING THE NAMES AND IMAGES OF HIGH SCHOOL FEMALES. AUTHORITIES SAID CHURCH THEN CONTACTED BOYS AND GOT THEM TO SEND SEXUALLY EXPLICIT IMAGES OF THEMSELVES AFTER THEY WERE CONTACTED BY THE FAKE FEMALES. PROSECUTORS SAID OVER 50 BOYS WERE VICTIMIZED BY THE SCHEME, WHICH BEGAN IN 2009.

SIX STUDENTS AT BELLE CHASSE HIGH SCHOOL HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AFTER A SWEEP FOUND WEAPONS, INCLUDING A 12-GAUGE SHOTGUN, AND DRUGS IN STUDENTS' CARS.
THE PLAQUEMINES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE CONDUCTED A SEARCH AFTER GETTING A TIP ABOUT ILLEGAL DRUGS. A K-9 OFFICER HELPED LOCATE SOME WEAPONS AS WELL AS MARIJUANA IN SEVERAL OF CARS PARKED ON CAMPUS. SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAID THURSDAY THAT THE CONFISCATED WEAPONS WERE NOT PART OF ANY MALICIOUS PLOT. PRINCIPAL JEMI CARLONE SAYS MANY STUDENTS ARE AVID HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN AND SIMPLY FORGOT TO REMOVE THE WEAPONS FROM THEIR CARS.



News For Thursday 04/26/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 042612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

LOTTERY OFFICIALS SAY THE WINNING TICKET IN WEDNESDAY'S $173 MILLION POWERBALL DRAWING WAS SOLD IN PENNSYLVANIA AND THERE WERE NO BIG WINNERS IN LOUISIANA. THE NEXT POWERBALL DRAWING ON SATURDAY HAS AN ESTIMATED JACKPOT OF $40 MILLION.

35-YEAR-OLD YVONNE WILLETT OF PINEVILLE WAS KILLED YESTERDAY IN WHAT STATE POLICE ARE CALLING A SINGLE-VEHICLE CRASH. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED AROUND 8:30 IN THE MORNING. ON LA. HIGHWAY 454, WEST OF LA. HIGHWAY 107 WHEN HER VEHICLE LEFT THE ROADWAY AND HIT A DRIEWAY EMBANKMENT. WILLETT WAS NOT WEARING A SEAT BELT AND WAS EJECTED. SHE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS HAVE RELEASED THE APPLICATION THAT PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS ARE TO FILL OUT TO PARTICIPATE IN LOUISIANA'S NEW VOUCHER TUITION PROGRAM. LEGISLATION ESTABLISHING THE STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM WAS SIGNED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL LAST WEEK. STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS GRADED BY THE STATE WITH A C, D OR F, AND WHO ARE FROM LOW-TO-MODERATE-INCOME FAMILIES, WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AT STATE EXPENSE. THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SAID THIS WEEK THAT SCHOOLS WANTING TO ACCEPT THOSE STUDENTS SHOULD SUBMIT THEIR APPLICATION BY MAY 18.

JOSHUA LEDET EARNED ANOTHER PAIR OF STANDING OVATIONS ON "AMERICAN IDOL."
THE POWERFUL 20-YEAR-OLD GOSPEL SINGER FROM WESTLAKE, LA., GOT THE FOX TALENT CONTEST'S JUDGES ON THEIR FEET AGAIN WEDNESDAY NIGHT. TONIGHT THOUGH, ONE OF THE SIX FINALISTS WILL BE ELIMINATED.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HAS NOMINATED BATON ROUGE ATTORNEY RACHELLE "SHELLY" DECKERT DICK TO FILL A VACANCY ON THE FEDERAL BENCH IN BATON ROUGE. THE WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCED THE NOMINATION WEDNESDAY. IF APPROVED, SHE WOULD FILL THE SEAT LEFT VACANT BY THE JULY DEATH OF CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE RALPH TYSON. U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU RECOMMENDED DICK FOR THE POST. DICK, A FOUNDING PARTNER IN THE BATON ROUGE LAW FIRM OF FORRESTER & DICK LLC, IS A VETERAN CIVIL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AND HAS REPRESENTED BOTH GOVERNMENT AND NON-GOVERNMENT CLIENTS IN MATTERS OF FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT LAW.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE NARROWLY REFUSED WEDNESDAY TO EXTEND AN EXISTING TAX BREAK GIVEN TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS THAT SAVES THE TEAM $3.7 MILLION A YEAR.
THE EXTENSION PROPOSED BY REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, FELL FOUR VOTES SHORT OF PASSAGE IN A 49-46 VOTE WEDNESDAY. IT NEEDED 53 VOTES TO WIN APPROVAL.
THE NBA TEAM GETS A TAX BREAK THROUGH THE STATE QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM. HENRY PROPOSED CONTINUING THAT FOR THE LENGTH OF THE HORNETS' NEW LEASE WITH THE STATE, WHICH IS SET TO GO THROUGH 2024. THE TAX EXEMPTION EXPIRES IN 2013.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE SHELVED A PROPOSAL WEDNESDAY THAT WOULD HAVE STOPPED FORMER LAWMAKERS FROM BOOSTING THEIR RETIREMENT PAY BY GETTING A JOB WITH A STATE AGENCY AFTER LEAVING OFFICE. IN EFFECT, THE MOVE WOULD BAR ANY LAWMAKERS CURRENTLY IN THE LOUISIANA STATE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM FROM TAKING A STATE JOB AFTER LEAVING OFFICE THAT WOULD GIVE THEM A MUCH HIGHER SALARY IN THEIR FINAL FEW YEARS, THEREBY SWELLING THEIR PENSION PAYMENTS WHEN THEY RETIRE. A STATE WORKER'S RETIREMENT BENEFIT IS BASED ON THE TOP THREE YEARS OF SALARY.

THE AIR QUALITY IN NINE LOUISIANA PARISHES CAN MAKE BREATHING DANGEROUS, ACCORDING TO DATA RELEASED WEDNESDAY BY THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION.
THE DATA SHOW THAT ABOUT 41 PERCENT OF THE NATION SUFFERS FROM SUCH POLLUTION LEVELS. FOUR OUT OF 10 PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES LIVE IN AREAS THAT RECEIVED AN F BECAUSE OF UNHEALTHY LEVELS OF OZONE AIR POLLUTION. THE LOUISIANA PARISHES THAT FAILED IN HIGH OZONE DAYS ARE ASCENSION, BOSSIER, CALCASIEU, EAST BATON ROUGE, IBERVILLE, JEFFERSON, LIVINGSTON, POINTE COUPEE AND ST. TAMMANY.
THE REPORT LISTS THREE PARISHES IN WHICH THERE ARE NO MONITORS COLLECTING OZONE DATA: RAPIDES, TANGIPAHOA AND TERREBONNE.

STATE GOVERNMENT WILL BE FORCED TO MAKE MORE CUTS AS A RESULT OF LOWER THAN EXPECTED REVENUES. LOUISIANA IS $211-MILLION SHORT FOR THIS FISCAL YEAR, AND REVENUE PROJECTIONS FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR HAVE BEEN REVISED DOWNWARD BY OVER $300-MILLION. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE CAN ADDRESS CUTS TO BRING THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR BUDGET INTO BALANCE. STATE LAWMAKERS WILL HAVE TO HANDLE BALANCING THE BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST.

A BID TO SHRINK THE NUMBER OF GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEES ON THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WAS DEFEATED IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. REP. HERBERT DIXON, D-ALEXANDRIA, WANTED TO REDUCE BESE FROM AN 11-MEMBER BOARD TO NINE MEMBERS. HIS BILL (HOUSE BILL 165) WOULD HAVE REPLACED THE GOVERNOR'S THREE APPOINTEES WITH ONE MEMBER APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, HOUSE SPEAKER AND SENATE PRESIDENT. THE OTHER EIGHT ELECTED MEMBERS WOULD HAVE REMAINED.

THE SENATE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE KILLED A MEASURE BY NEW ORLEANS SENATOR KAREN PETERSON REQUIRING BUSINESSES TO GIVE EQUAL PAY TO WOMEN WHO DO THE SAME JOB AS MEN. THE QUAL PAY FOR WOMEN ACT WAS VOTED DOWN BY A FIVE TO THREE MARGIN WEDNESDAY. THE VOTE EFFECTIVELY KILLS THE LEGISLATION FOR THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

IN A STATE THAT HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST TEEN PREGNANCY RATE IN THE COUNTRY, THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS DEADLOCKED ON A PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO TEACH SEX EDUCATION. THE BILL BY DEMOCRATIC REP. PATRICIA SMITH, OF BATON ROUGE, WOULD REQUIRE THE COURSES BEGINNING WITH THE 2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR. THEY WOULD INCLUDE TEACHING ABOUT ABSTINENCE, CONTRACEPTIVES AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES, INSTRUCTION DEEMED "AGE APPROPRIATE" BY THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD. PARENTS WHO DON'T WANT THEIR CHILDREN PARTICIPATING IN THE CLASSES COULD OPT OUT. OBJECTIONS WERE RAISED BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD. CURRENT LAW ALLOWS SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO PROVIDE SEX EDUCATION TO STUDENTS, BUT ONLY IF THEY CHOOSE.

UL-LAFAYETTE AND HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MARK HUDSPETH HAVE REACHED AN AGREEMENT ON A NEW FIVE YEAR CONTRACT. HUDSPETH IS CREDITED WITH TURNING THE RAGIN CAJUN FOOTBALL PROGRAM AROUND IN JUST ONE SEASON. LAST YEAR HUDSPETH TOOK THE TEAM TO THEIR FIRST BOWL GAME SINCE 1970. ATHLETIC DIRECTOR SCOTT FARMER SAYS THE CONTRACT IS A MAJOR SHOW OF SUPPORT BY THE UL BOARD FOR THE COACH'S PERFORMANCE. HE SAYS PRIVATE DOLLARS WILL PAY FOR THE COACH'S RAISE, WHILE THE UNIVERSITY'S FINANCIAL COMMITMENT REMAINS THE SAME. HUDSPETH'S NEW CONTRACT WILL DOUBLE HIS CURRENT $360-THOUSAND ANNUAL SALARY.

IN THE TOWN OF WASHINGTON, JUST NORTH OF OPELOUSAS, POLICE HAVE STARTED TO ENFORCE THE TOWN'S PIT BULL ORDINANCE. 17 PIT BULLS WERE TURNED OVER TO THE ST. LANDRY PARISH ANIMAL CONTROL AFTER THEY WERE SEIZED BY WASHINGTON POLICE ON MONDAY. CHIEF RONELLE BROUSSARD SAID THE DOGS' OWNERS ALL WERE IN VIOLATION OF AN ORDINANCE REGULATING PIT BULLS. "LETTERS WERE SENT OUT AND THEY HAD THE PIT BULL ORDINANCE AND THEY HAD 30 DAYS TO COMPLY," BROUSSARD SAID. "NO ONE HAS COMPLIED WITH THE ORDINANCE. NO ONE HAS MADE ANY ATTEMPT TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDINANCE. THAT ORDINANCE REQUIRES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT OWNERS OF PIT BULLS HAVE A 6- BY 6-FOOT ENCLOSED AREA WITH A COVERED TOP AND A $100,000 INSURANCE POLICY.

LAWMAKERS SCRAPPED A PROPOSAL TO CREATE A REDEMPTION SYSTEM FOR RECYCLING DRINK BOTTLES AND CANS, SIDING WEDNESDAY WITH OPPONENTS WHO SAID THE BILL WOULD CREATE HEADACHES FOR BUSINESSES AND COULD COST THE STATE. REP. EDDIE LAMBERT, R-GONZALES, HAS UNSUCCESSFULLY PUSHED THE IDEA OF PAYING PEOPLE TO RETURN BOTTLES AND CANS FOR SEVERAL YEARS AS A WAY TO ENCOURAGE RECYCLING AND TO CLEAN UP LITTER ALONG LOUISIANA'S ROADWAYS AND IN WATERWAYS.

THE FULL HOUSE WILL DEBATE WHETHER LOUISIANA SHOULD JOIN AN INTERSTATE COMPACT SEEKING TO ELECT THE NATION'S PRESIDENT BY THE POPULAR VOTE RATHER THAN THROUGH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE. THE "NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE" PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 1095) WOULD ONLY TAKE EFFECT IF STATES REPRESENTING A MAJORITY OF THE ELECTORAL VOTES — 270 OUT OF 538 — AGREE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE COMPACT. EIGHT STATES SO FAR HAVE ENACTED THE MEASURE, REACHING ABOUT HALF THE 270 ELECTORAL VOTES NEEDED TO MAKE THE CHANGE.

A NEW ORLEANS MAN IS SENTENCED TO 80 YEARS IN PRISON FOR THE 2006 KILLING OF FIVE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE CRESCENT CITY. MICHAEL ANDERSON WAS CONVICTED OF GUNNING THE GROUP OF TEENS DOWN. THE INCIDENT TRIGGERED A CALL TO CURB POST-KATRINA VIOLENCE IN THE CITY, AND LED TO NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS BEING
ASSIGNED TO STREET DUTY FOR OVER A YEAR.

THE SHREVEPORT AIRPORT AUTHORITY IS IN TALKS WITH UNITED AIRLINES TO ADD MORE WESTBOUND FLIGHTS TO ITS SERVICE. CONNECTIONS TO A NEW WESTERN HUB CITY WOULD INCREASE THE NUMBER OF DESTINATIONS FROM SHREVEPORT. SHREVEPORT REGIONAL AIRPORT HAS SHOWN RAPID GROWTH OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. THEY ARE UP ABOUT 11-PERCENT IN THE LAST YEAR, ADDING OVER 56-THOUSAND PASSENGERS. WESTERN HUB CITIES FOR UNITED INCLUDE LOS ANGLES, SAN FRANCISCO AND DENVER.







News For Wednesday 04/25/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 042512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

WHILE STATE POLICE AND THE FBI START A WIRETAPPING PROBE INTO THE SAINTS AND GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS, ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT IS CALLING THE ALLEGATIONS THAT LOOMIS' HAD HIS SUPERDOME BOOTH WIRED SO HE COULD LISTEN TO OPPOSING COACHES "LUDICROUS." VITT CALLS THE SUGGESTION THAT LOOMIS LISTENED IN TO OPPOSING COACHES' RADIO COMMUNICATIONS "IMPOSSIBLE," ADDING THAT HE'S NEVER HEARD OF SOMETHING LIKE THAT BEFORE, AND HE ADDS THAT THOSE WHO MADE THE ALLEGATIONS ARE "IRRESPONSIBLE." A JOINT LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AND FBI TASK FORCE BEGAN INVESTIGATING THE ALLEGATIONS TUESDAY, ONE DAY AFTER THEY WERE MADE BY ANONYMOUS SOURCES IN AN ESPN REPORT.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE AGREED TUESDAY TO CHANGE THE SONOGRAM REQUIREMENTS FOR A WOMAN SEEKING AN ABORTION IN THE STATE, INCLUDING ASKING HER IF SHE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR THE FETAL HEARTBEAT. WOMEN IN LOUISIANA ALREADY ARE REQUIRED TO GET AN ULTRASOUND BEFORE THEY CAN HAVE AN ABORTION. UNDER THE BILL BY SEN. SHARON WESTON BROOME, D-BATON ROUGE, THE ULTRASOUND WOULD BE REQUIRED 24 HOURS BEFORE THE ABORTION, INSTEAD OF TWO HOURS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE. ALSO, THE DOCTOR WOULD BE REQUIRED TO ASK THE WOMAN WHETHER SHE WANTS TO HEAR ANY SOUNDS FROM THE FETAL HEART MONITOR. ULTRASOUNDS WOULDN'T BE REQUIRED FOR VICTIMS OF RAPE OR INCEST SEEKING AN ABORTION. THE SENATE SENT THE PROPOSAL TO THE HOUSE WITH A 34-4 VOTE.

THE STATE SENATE IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED STATE WORKER PENSION REFORMS LEGISLATION TODAY. THE BILLS WERE AMENDED IN COMMITTEE HEARINGS, AND WILL LIKELY HAVE MORE AMENDMENTS ATTEMPTED ON THE SENATE FLOOR. THE TWO BILLS WOULD REQUIRE STATE WORKERS TO PUT MORE OF THEIR PAYCHECKS INTO RETIREMENT, AND WOULD RAISE MINIMUM RETIREMENT AGES FOR THOUSANDS. THE REFORMS ARE NEEDED TO ADDRESS $18-BILLION IN STATE RETIREMENT DEBT.

LOUISIANA'S INCOME ESTIMATES WERE LOWERED TUESDAY BY NEARLY $211 MILLION, A REDUCTION THAT COULD FORCE DEEP CUTS ACROSS STATE SERVICES IN THE FINAL MONTHS OF THE BUDGET YEAR. INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS REMAIN SLUGGISH AND WELL BELOW EXPECTATIONS, AS THE STATE ECONOMY CONTINUES TO FEEL THE IMPACT OF THE NATIONAL RECESSION. SAVINGS FROM A HIRING FREEZE AND PARTIAL SPENDING FREEZE EARLIER THIS YEAR CAN FILL SOME OF THE GAP IN THE $25 BILLION BUDGET, BUT THE GOVERNOR'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER, COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER, SAID LAWMAKERS AND THE ADMINISTRATION CAN'T AVOID CUTS.

DRIVERS WOULD BE BANNED FROM USING HAND-HELD ELECTRONIC DEVICES, INCLUDING CELL PHONES - UNDER A BILL APPROVED TODAY WITHOUT OBJECTION BY THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON SPONSORS THE BILL. IT WILL NOW PROCEED TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE AND VOTE. BADON BROUGHT THE SAME BILL LAST YEAR, AND WON PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE, BEFORE THE BILL WAS STOPPED SHORT IN A SENATE COMMITTEE. BADON'S BILL WOULD MAKE THE VIOLATION A PRIMARY OFFENSE, MEANING A COP COULD PULL YOU OVER IF HE SEES TALKING ON A
HAND-HELD PHONE.

LOUISIANA WILL BORROW $350 MILLION NEXT YEAR FOR STATE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, AND THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS PROPOSED A LIST OF PROJECTS TO USE UP ALL THAT CAPACITY AND MORE, BEFORE LAWMAKERS EVEN ADD THEIR OWN PROJECTS TO THE LIST.
THE STATE HAS FAR LESS MONEY AVAILABLE THAN REQUESTED FOR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PROJECTS SOUGHT BY LAWMAKERS AND STATE AGENCIES. AS DESCRIBED TUESDAY TO THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, THE CONSTRUCTION BUDGET BILL SUBMITTED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL CONTAINS $366 MILLION IN PROJECTS VYING FOR THE AVAILABLE DOLLARS: $199 MILLION FOR ONGOING PROJECTS AND $167 MILLION FOR NEW ITEMS. LOUISIANA HAS A CAP ON ANNUAL BORROWING THAT LIMITS ANNUAL SPENDING ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS BROUGHT THE FIRST CRIMINAL CHARGES TUESDAY IN THE GULF OIL SPILL, ACCUSING A FORMER BP ENGINEER OF DELETING MORE THAN 300 TEXT MESSAGES THAT INDICATED THE BLOWN-OUT WELL WAS SPEWING FAR MORE CRUDE THAN THE COMPANY WAS TELLING THE PUBLIC AT THE TIME. TWO YEARS AND FOUR DAYS AFTER THE DRILLING-RIG EXPLOSION THAT SET OFF THE WORST OFFSHORE OIL SPILL IN U.S. HISTORY, KURT MIX OF KATY, TEXAS, WAS ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH TWO COUNTS OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE FOR ALLEGEDLY DESTROYING EVIDENCE. THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MADE IT CLEAR THAT THE INVESTIGATION IS STILL GOING ON AND SUGGESTED THAT MORE PEOPLE COULD BE ARRESTED.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW ORLEANS IS SET TO PRESIDE OVER A HEARING ON A PROPOSED CLASS-ACTION SETTLEMENT THAT WOULD RESOLVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CLAIMS AGAINST BP OVER THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. BP PLC AND A TEAM OF PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEYS ARE SEEKING U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER'S PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT, WHICH IS DESIGNED TO RESOLVE MORE THAN 100,000 CLAIMS BY PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES WHO BLAME THE SPILL FOR ECONOMIC LOSSES. BARBIER IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR THEIR REQUEST ON WEDNESDAY. BP ESTIMATES IT WILL PAY ABOUT $7.8 BILLION TO RESOLVE THESE CLAIMS, BUT THE SETTLEMENT DOESN'T HAVE A CAP. THE DEAL WAS ANNOUNCED MARCH 2, BUT ITS DETAILS ARE SPELLED OUT IN HUNDREDS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS FILED LAST WEEK.

THREE SITES IN LOUISIANA, INCLUDING TOLEDO BEND AND THE RED RIVER ARE AMONG THE TOP 100 BASS FISHING SPOTS IN THE NATION, ACCORDING TO BASSMASTER MAGAZINE.
FALCON LAKE IN TEXAS CAME IN AT THE NO 1. SPOT ON TOP 100 LIST THAT WAS RELEASED TUESDAY BY BASSMASTER, THE PUBLICATION FOR MEMBERS OF B.A.S.S. TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR IS RANKED NO. 15, THE LOUISIANA DELTA IS NO. 27 AND THE RED RIVER IS NO. 47.

LOUISIANA IS CREATING A NEW TAX BREAK PROGRAM THAT WILL GIVE REBATES FOR DONATIONS TO VOUCHER PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE TUITION FOR STUDENTS TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. THE HOUSE AND SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE TUESDAY, SENDING IT TO GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, WHO PUSHED THE IDEA. JINDAL SAID IT WILL GIVE CHILDREN IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET AN IMPROVED EDUCATION.

A 26-YEAR-OLD MOTHER'S "GROSS NEGLIGENCE" HAS LED AUTHORITIES TO ARREST HER ON FOUR COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AFTER A SATURDAY NIGHT FIRE KILLED FOUR OF HER CHILDREN WHO WERE LEFT UNATTENDED IN A MOBILE HOME. RAYNE POLICE CHIEF CARROLL STELLY SAYS THE 15TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FILED THE NEW CHARGES AGAINST SHAQUETA MCDADE AFTER PROSECUTORS DETERMINED SHE HAD SHOWN GROSS NEGLIGENCE BY LEAVING HER CHILDREN — AGES 2 TO 8 — UNATTENDED. MCDADE WAS INITIALLY BOOKED WITH FOUR COUNTS OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE. BOND WAS SET AT $1 MILLION. POLICE ARE STILL TRYING TO DETERMINE WHERE MCDADE WAS AT THE TIME OF THE FIRE, WHICH REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD ALLOW GAY COUPLES AND OTHER UNMARRIED COUPLES TO ADOPT CHILDREN TOGETHER IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN DEFEATED BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE.
THE HOUSE CIVIL LAW AND PROCEDURE COMMITTEE VOTED 9-2 AGAINST THE IDEA TUESDAY.
AS PROPOSED BY NEW ORLEANS REP. JARED BROSSETT, THE BILL WOULD HAVE ALLOWED ADOPTIONS BY PEOPLE WHO AREN'T RELATED TO A CHILD BY BLOOD BUT LIVE IN THE SAME HOME AND ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILD. SUPPORTERS SAY PEOPLE SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO ADOPT CHILDREN IF THEY CAN OFFER LOVING HOMES AND SECURE ENVIRONMENTS. OPPONENTS SAY UNMARRIED COUPLES ARE UNSTABLE, AND THE BILL COULD TIE CHILDREN TO BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS WHO DON'T STAY IN A RELATIONSHIP LONG-TERM.

A NEW REPORT SAYS LOUISIANA IS THE LEAST PEACEFUL STATE IN THE COUNTRY. THE RANKING IS BASED ON RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY THE INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMICS AND PEACE. CHAIRMAN OF THE I-E-P, STEVE KILLELEA (KILL-L-A), SAYS LOUISIANA'S HIGH INCARCERATION RATE WAS ONE OF THE FACTORS THAT LED TO THE POOR RANKING. KILLELEA SAYS THIS IS THE 20TH STRAIGHT YEAR LOUISIANA IS RANKED AS AMERICA'S LEAST PEACEFUL STATE. MAINE RANKS AS THE MOST PEACEFUL FOR THE 11TH YEAR IN A ROW. KILLELEA SAYS NEW ORLEANS ALSO RANKS AS ONE OF THE LEAST PEACEFUL CITIES IN THE COUNTRY. A KILLELEA SAYS LOUISIANA HAS IMPROVED ITS PEACE INDEX OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, BUT HE SAYS THE PROBLEM FOR THE BAYOU STATE IS THAT THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IS MOVING AT A FASTER RATE.

TWO CONVENIENCE STORE OWNERS FROM LAKE CHARLES HAVE EACH PLEAD GUILTY ON A 26 COUNT INDICTMENT BASED ON EVIDENCE THEY WERE ACCEPTING FOOD STAMPS FOR ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTS AND CASH. THE UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION WAS LED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND LOUISIANA ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO CONTROL. COMMISSIONER TROY HEBERT. HEBERT SAYS GOODFELLAS GROCERY OWNERS CRAIG AND HILLARY NASH WERE HIT WITH $2.7 MILLION WORTH OF FOOD STAMP FRAUD. HE SAYS THE NASH BROTHERS NOW FACE UP TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON, UP TO $250,000 IN FINES AND RESTITUTION TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.







News For Tuesday 04/24/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 042412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NEIGHBORS OF FOUR CHILDREN KILLED IN A FIRE IN RAYNE OVER THE WEEKEND SAY THEY HAD TOLD POLICE THEIR MOTHER LEFT HER CHILDREN, AGED 2 THROUGH FIFTH GRADE, HOME ALONE. MELINDA MILLER SAID SHE HAD CALLED POLICE FRIDAY NIGHT TO REPORT THAT THE CHILDREN HAD BEEN LEFT WITHOUT AN ADULT, BUT THEY WERE RELEASED BACK TO THEIR MOTHER SATURDAY — THE DAY OF THE FIRE. THE OLDEST CHILD WAS STAYING WITH RELATIVES WHEN THE FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE HOUSE TRAILER SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT SATURDAY, KILLING THE CHILDREN. SEVERAL NEIGHBORS TRIED TO BREAK IN TO RESCUE THE CHILDREN, BUT THE HEAT WAS TOO INTENSE. THE CHILDREN'S MOTHER,26 YEAR OLD SHAQUETA MCDADE WAS BOOKED SUNDAY WITH FOUR COUNTS OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.

ALEXANDRIA POLICE ARRESTED A HOMELESS MAN SATURDAY AND CHARGED WITH WITH ROBBERIES OF A PHARMACY AND CONVENIENCE STORE. 33 YEAR OLD JOE HILLARD JR WAS CHARGED HIM WITH SIMPLE ROBBERY (TWO COUNTS), FIRST DEGREE ROBBERY AND RESISTING AN OFFICER (TWO COUNTS). APD OFFICERS RESPONDED TO A ROBBERY OF A PHARMACY LOCATED IN THE 700 BLOCK OF BOLTON AVENUE SHORTLY BEFORE NOON SATURDAY. HILLARD WAS ARRESTED ON MAGNOLIA STREET FOLLOWING A SHORT FOOT CHASE. FURTHER INVESTIGATION FOUND HILLARD ALLEGEDLY ROBBED A JACKSON STREET CONVENIENCE STORE ON JACKSON STREET TWICE THAT SAME MORNING, AROUND 5 A.M. AND AGAIN SHORTLY BEFORE 9. POLICE SAY THERE WAS NO WEAPON INVOLVED.

ANOTHER SHOCKING ALLEGATION MADE AGAINST THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. ESPN REPORTS THAT SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS WAS ABLE TO EAVESDROP OF OPPOSING TEAM COACHES FOR ALL OF THE 2003 AND 2004 SEASONS. A SAINTS SPOKESMAN SAYS THE ACCUSATIONS ARE "1000 PERCENT FALSE". LOOMIS ALREADY HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR HIS ROLE IN THE "BOUNTYGATE" PAY-FOR-INJURY PROGRAM. NFL ACTION AGAINST INDIVIDUAL SAINTS PLAYERS FOR "BOUNTYGATE" MAY BE FORTHCOMING.

LAWMAKERS HAVE REACHED THE HALFWAY POINT IN THIS YEAR'S REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION. IN THAT TIME, THEY HAVE PASSED GOVERNOR JINDAL'S SWEEPING PUBLIC EDUCATION REFORMS...BUT HAVE MADE LITTLE PROGRESS WITH STATE WORKER PENSION REFORMS, OR WITH BALANCING THE $25-BILLION BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST. DISPUTES ARE OVER FAMILIAR STICKING POINTS, LIKE USING ONE-TIME REVENUES TO PAY FOR RECURRING EXPENSES. THERE ARE SIX WEEKS LEFT IN THE SESSION. IT'S SCHEDULED TO END AT 6PM ON MONDAY, JUNE 4TH.

THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY BACKED A PROPOSAL MONDAY TO STRENGTHEN LOUISIANA'S BAN ON EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 1086) BY REP. ALAN SEABAUGH, R-SHREVEPORT, WOULD SPELL OUT THAT SOMEONE AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES FOR ANOTHER PERSON MAY NOT APPROVE ANY PROCEDURE THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED ASSISTED SUICIDE. THAT PROHIBITION ALSO WOULD BE EXTENDED TO INCLUDE SURGICAL OR MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED OR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS WHO MAY BE UNABLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN MEDICAL DECISIONS.
LOUISIANA ALREADY HAS A PROHIBITION IN CRIMINAL LAW AGAINST EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE. BUT SEABAUGH SAID HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS CLEAR IN THE STATE'S MEDICAL CONSENT LAW.

A LEESVILLE STATE LAWMAKER SURROUNDED HIMSELF WITH TEACHERS, FIREMEN, STATE RETIREES AND OTHERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED STATE WORKER PENSION REFORMS. DEMOCRAT HOUSE MEMBER JAMES ARMES SAYS HE WANTS TO SHED LIGHT ON THE PLAN HE SAYS THE GOVERNOR HAS "CRAMMED DOWN THE THROATS" OF STATE EMPLOYEES. ARMES SAYS THE GOVERNOR IS TRYING TO TURN PENSIONS OVER THE SAME WALL STREET INVESTORS WHO HELPED DRIVE THE U.S. ECONOMY INTO RECESSION.

THE INTENTIONAL SENDING OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT TEXT MESSAGES WOULD BE CONSIDERED A MISDEMEANOR CRIME, CARRYING A FINE OF $100 TO UP TO $500, UNDER A PROPOSAL APPROVED BY THE SENATE. THE BILL BY SEN. ROBERT ADLEY, R-BENTON, HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE BACKED PROPOSALS TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR CRIMES ASSOCIATED WITH STREET GANGS, LIKE INCITING OR PARTICIPATING IN A RIOT, AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, ASSAULT BY DRIVE-BY SHOOTING AND LOOTING. ONE VERSION WILL HAVE TO GET PASSAGE FROM BOTH CHAMBERS BEFORE REACHING FINAL PASSAGE

SHRIMP PROCESSORS ARE UPSET THEY ARE EXCLUDED FROM BP'S PROPOSED CLASS-ACTION SETTLEMENT FOR ECONOMIC DAMAGES AS A RESULT OF THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL. DAVID VEAL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE AMERICAN SHRIMP PROCESSORS ASSOCIATION, SAYS THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS THOSE WHO WORK ON THE WATER, BUT IT EXCLUDES PROCESSORS, DOCK WORKERS AND TRUCK DRIVERS WHO WERE EQUALLY AFFECTED.

A LAKE CHARLES MAN WAS KILLED SUNDAY, WHILE TRYING TO CHANGE A TIRE ON THE SIDE OF US HIGHWAY 171. STATE POLICE SAY 44-YEAR-OLD VINCE AUSTIN WAS HARD AT THE TASK, WHEN HE AND HIS VEHICLE WERE HIT BY AN SUV. TOXICOLOGY TESTS ARE ORDERED FOR THE OTHER DRIVER. THE CRASH IS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

EXTENSIVE RENOVATIONS ARE TAKING PLACE AT THE STATE'S LARGEST AIRPORT TO GET IT READY FOR NEXT YEAR'S SUPER BOWL. OFFICIALS SAY ABOUT 42-THOUSAND PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO GO THROUGH LOUIS ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT THE DAY AFTER SUPER BOWL 47 IN FEBRUARY 2013. AIRPORT SPOKESPERSON MICHELLE WILCUT SAYS TRAVELERS WILL NOTICE THE CHANGES. SOME OF THEM BEING NEW PARKING FACILITES, A NEW GIFT SHOPS & A NEWS STAND AND NEW RESTAURANTS.

A CREW OF FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES LOCATED 186 ABANDONED TIRES IN THE CALCASIEU DISTRICT OF THE KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST COVERING PORTIONS OF VERNON AND RAPIDES PARISHES. U.S FOREST SERVICE SPOKESPERSON JIM CALDWELL SAYS ITS A SHAME THAT ANYONE WOULD DUMP TRASH ON SUCH SCENIC AREAS AS OUR NATIONAL FOREST. CALDWELL SAYS THEY ARE PARTNERING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT TO HELP CURTAIL THE DUMPING PROBLEM. CALDWELL SAYS A TWO-DOLLAR FEE AT A TIRE SHOP CAN SAVE SOMEONE A 300-DOLLAR FINE. OLD TIRES CAN BE RECYCLED FOR USE IN PLAYGROUNDS, WALKING PATHS AND OTHER RECREATIONAL USES

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAYS IT FOUND "ALARMING CONDITIONS" IN A RECENT INSPECTION OF THE NEW ORLEANS JAIL AND UNCOVERED PERSISTENTLY HIGH RATES OF PRISONER-ON-PRISONER VIOLENCE AND STAFF MISCONDUCT. IN A 21-PAGE LETTER MONDAY TO ORLEANS PARISH SHERIFF MARLIN GUSMAN, A JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL SAYS THE JAIL IS A "VIOLENT AND DANGEROUS INSTITUTION" AND ACCUSES JAIL OFFICIALS OF FAILING TO TAKE BASIC STEPS TO CORRECT "SYSTEMIC ISSUES" AND "SERIOUS CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS" THAT WERE IDENTIFIED IN A 2009 REPORT BY THE DEPARTMENT. GUSMAN'S OFFICE AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HAVE BEEN NEGOTIATING TERMS OF A CONSENT DECREE THAT WOULD REQUIRE CHANGES AT ORLEANS PARISH PRISON, THE CITY'S ONLY JAIL. THE DEPARTMENT SAID IT WILL CONSIDER SUING IF GUSMAN'S OFFICE FAILS TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH.

POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A 27-YEAR-OLD CROWLEY WOMAN ACCUSED OF KILLING A 1-YEAR-OLD GIRL SHE WAS BABYSITTING. 27 YEAR OLD LATONYA ISMAIL WAS ARRESTED SUNDAY MORNING ON ONE COUNT OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER. THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THE 1-YEAR-OLD FEMALE HAD BEEN PHYSICALLY ABUSED BY ISMAIL, WHO IS NOT RELATED BUT WAS LIVING WITH THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.






News For Monday 04/23/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 042312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FOUR UNATTENDED CHILDREN DIED IN A MOBILE HOME FIRE OVER THE WEEKEND AND THEIR MOTHER WAS CHARGED SUNDAY WITH FOUR COUNTS OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE FOR ALLEGEDLY LEAVING THEM ALONE. CAPT. DOUG CAIN WITH DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY SAYS THE FIRE BEGAN JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT SATURDAY IN THE TOWN OF RAYNE. CAIN SAID THE CHILDREN WHO DIED WERE AGES 2, 5, 7 AND 8. HE SAID THEIR MOTHER, 26-YEAR-OLD SHAQUETA MCDADE, WAS ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH FOUR COUNTS OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE. SHE WAS BEING HELD AT THE ACADIA PARISH JAIL. AUTHORITIES SAY THEY DO NOT KNOW WHERE THE WOMAN WAS WHEN THE FIRE BROKE OUT. WHAT THEY DO KNOW, IS SHE WAS NOT AT HOME.

THE FEDERAL RESTORE ACT, WHICH WOULD SEND FINES PAID BY BP FOR THE GULF OIL SPILL TO THE STATES IMPACTED BY THE DISASTER, IS CLOSER TO FINAL PASSAGE. THE MEASURE CLEARED THE US HOUSE LAST WEEK. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU, WHO CHAMPIONED THE RESTORE ACT IN THE UPPER CHAMBER, SAYS THE RESTORE ACT WOULD DEDICATE 80% OF WHATEVER FINES ARE LEVIED AGAINST BP FOR VIOLATING THE CLEAN WATER ACT TO LOUISIANA AND 4 OTHER COASTAL STATES. THAT COULD AMOUNT TO OVER TEN BILLION DOLLARS. THE RESTORE ACT WAS ADDED TO A HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BILL THAT PASSED LAST WEEK BY 293-127 VOTE. THE SENATE HAS PASSED ITS OWN VERSION, AUTHORED BY LANDRIEU. SHE SAYS BOTH CHAMBERS WILL CONFERENCE ON WHICH BILL WILL GO TO THE PRESIDENT, AND GET ONE TO HIS DESK OVER THE SUMMER.

STATE OFFICIALS TOLD LAWMAKERS FRIDAY THAT GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED REFORMS FOR THE STATE WORKERS' PENSION SYSTEM WILL LIKELY RESULT IN THE LOSS OF EXPERIENCED, KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE. POLITICAL ANALYST BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS IF THE REFORMS PASS, IT'S POSSIBLE MANY STATE EMPLOYEES WILL TAKE EARLY RETIREMENT, BEFORE THE CHANGES KICK IN. MANY STATE AGENCIES TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, SAYING LARGE NUMBERS OF THEIR EMPLOYEES WOULD LIKELY EXIT STATE GOVERNMENT, RATHER THAN PAY MORE INTO THEIR PENSIONS AND WAIT LONGER (UNTIL 67) TO RETIRE. THAT WOULD AGGRAVATE THE UNFUNDED ACCRUED LIABILITY FOR STATE RETIREMENT. SOME FEEL THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN UNFAIRLY SEEKS TO BALANCE THE STATE BUDGET ON THE BACKS OF IT'S RANK & FILE EMPLOYEES.

A NEW ORLEANS AREA LAWMAKER IS STILL TRYING TO PASS LEGISLATION IN THIS SESSION TO REGULATE TRAFFIC CAMERAS. THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE DEFEATED TRAFFIC CAMERA BILLS EARLIER THIS MONTH, BUT METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY SAYS HE'S NOT GIVING UP. MARTINY SAYS HE'S WORKING WITH THE OPPONENTS ON A COMPROMISE THE LEGISLATURE WILL GO ALONG WITH. ONE OF MARTINY'S PROPOSALS WOULD PUT THE OPTION TO USE TRAFFIC CAMERAS UP TO A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE. HE SAYS MUNICIPALITIES OPPOSE LEAVING IT UP TO THE PEOPLE TO DECIDE BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS UNFAIR. HE SAYS THE WAY CAMERA TICKETS ARE USED IN MANY CITIES AMOUNT TO A MONEY MAKING SCAM.

A METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE IS ONCE AGAIN TRYING TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD TAKE AWAY AN ELECTED OFFICIAL'S OR PUBLIC EMPLOYEE'S PENSION, IF THEY ARE CONVICTED OF CERTAIN FELONIES. REP. TONY LIGI IS MORE CONFIDENT OF PASSAGE BECAUSE HE'S LETTING JUDGES DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO PULL SOMEONE'S STATE RETIREMENT. THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE HAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THIS LEGISLATION AND IF IT PASSES THE ENTIRE LEGISLATURE BY A 2/3RD VOTE, IT WOULD GO TO THE VOTERS THIS FALL.

THE FULL HOUSE APPROVES A MEASURE THAT WOULD GIVE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME PRISON INMATES SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE A CHANCE AT PAROLE. BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE PATRICIA SMITH'S BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO VIOLENT CRIMINAL OR SEX OFFENDERS, BUT THOSE WHO SENTENCED TO LIFE FOR REPEATED DRUG OR THEFT CHARGES. THE MEASURE PASSED ON AN 86-7 VOTE AND HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION. SUPPORTERS SAY THIS PROPOSED LAW CAN HELP WITH PRISON OVERCROWDING AND PROVIDE INMATES HOPE, WHICH WOULD LEAD TO SAFER PRISONS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS FORMER NEW ORLEANS CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM JEFFERSON TO BEGIN HIS 13-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE IN TWO WEEKS. JEFFERSON WAS CONVICTED IN 2009 FOR TAKING BRIBES AND OTHER CRIMES. HE'S BEEN FREE ON BOND WHILE APPEALING HIS CASE.

THE LAFOURCHE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A MOTHER HAS BEEN ARRESTED CHARGED WITH SECOND DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF HER TWO-MONTH OLD DAUGHTER. AUTHORITIES SAYS 33-YEAR-OLD LATISHA THOMAS OF THIBODAUX CALLED 911 IN FEBRUARY TO REPORT THAT HER BABY WASN'T BREATHING. THE AUTOPSY REVEALED THAT THE BABY, ANGEL THOMAS, DIED BECAUSE SHE HADN'T BEEN FED. POLICE SAY THE MOTHER WAS ARRESTED WITHOUT INCIDENT AND HER BOND HAS BEEN SET AT $500,000. THE WOMAN HAD TWO OTHER CHILDREN WHO ARE NOW IN THE CUSTODY OF THE STATE.

A SHREVEPORT BUSINESSMAN HAS ASKED FOR A NEW TRIAL AFTER BEING CONVICTED OF SEVERAL VIOLATIONS INCLUDING THE DUMPING OF UNTREATED WASTEWATER DIRECTLY INTO THE RED RIVER. JOHN TUMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF ARKLA DISPOSAL SERVICES INC., WAS CONVICTED IN MARCH OF DUMPING WASTEWATER WITHOUT A PERMIT, DISCHARGING UNTREATED WASTEWATER INTO SHREVEPORT'S SEWER SYSTEM AND OBSTRUCTING AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY INSPECTION. TUMA'S LAWYER SAID HE DIDN'T GET A FAIR TRIAL. IN FEBRUARY OF 2011, TUMA, OF CENTERVILLE, TEXAS, AND HIS SON CODY TUMA OF SHREVEPORT, WERE BOTH CHARGED IN A FIVE-COUNT INDICTMENT. CODY TUMA PLEADED GUILTY IN FEBRUARY OF 2012 TO ONE COUNT OF NEGLIGENTLY DISCHARGING POLLUTANTS INTO THE RED RIVER WITHOUT A PERMIT. ARKLA DISPOSAL INC. OPERATED AS A TREATMENT FACILITY FOR WASTEWATER RELATED TO OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION.

 

News For Friday 04/20/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 042012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT TOOK A JURY LESS THAN AN HOUR THURSDAY TO CONVICT PHILLIP RAINES OF SEXUAL BATTERY, FINDING A FORMER REGISTERED NURSE GUILTY OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING AN APPENDECTOMY PATIENT IN MAY 2009 AS THE VICTIM LAY RECOVERING AFTER SURGERY.
RAINES FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON WITHOUT A CHANCE OF PAROLE, PROBATION OR EARLY RELEASE. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER TENTATIVELY SET A SENTENCING HEARING FOR MAY 4. RAINES WILL REMAIN FREE ON BOND UNTIL THEN.

THE LOUISIANA RURAL WATER ASSOCIATION'S ANNUAL CONVENTION IS COMING BACK TO ALEXANDRIA IN JULY. BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A NUMBER OF THE YEARS, THE CONVENTION WON'T BE HELD AT THE ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. IT LOOKED FOR A WHILE AS IF THE GROUP WOULD MOVE THEIR CONVENTION TO LAFAYETTE. PAT CREDEUR, THE ASSOCIATION'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HAD GROWN INCREASINGLY FRUSTRATED, AND VOCAL ABOUT THOSE FRUSTRATIONS, WITH THE ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL. TWO ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS INITIATED NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATION AND THE BEST WESTERN. THOSE NEGOTIATIONS AND A $25,000 GRANT FROM THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY HAS CONVINCED THE GROUP TO GIVE ALEXANDRIA ONE MORE TRY. THE CONVENTION, ALONG WITH IT’S 1,200 TO 1,300 ATTENDEES WILL BE IN TOWN THIS JULY.

TODAY MARKS THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEEPWATER HORIZON WELL EXPLOSION WHICH TOOK THE LIVES OF ELEVEN WORKERS AND INJURED 17 OTHERS. THE EVENT TOUCHED OFF THE LARGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY. GARRET GRAVES, CHAIRMAN OF THE COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY SAYS
HE SAYS HE IS FRUSTRATED BY THE LACK OF ONGOING CLEANUP EFFORTS BY B-P AND THE COAST GUARD. LOUISIANA WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SECRETARY ROBERT BARHAM SAYS THERE ARE SIGNS THAT THE RECOVERY IS TAKING HOLD. BUT, HE SAYS, THERE ARE STILL
AREAS ALONG OUR GULF COAST THAT SILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO TO GET BACK
TO PRE-SPILL LEVELS OF PRODUCTIVITY.

TWO YEARS AFTER THE BP OIL SPILL, RESEARCHERS ARE TRYING TO FIND OUT IF SICK FISH FOUND IN GULF WATERS ARE SICK BECAUSE OF THE OIL, OR THE OIL DISPERSANTS USED. STEPHEN MURAWSKI, PROFESSOR AND RESEARCHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA, WAS PART OF A GROUP LOOKING INTO THE PROBLEM LAST SUMMER. HE SAYS THEIR NEXT CHALLENGE IS ASSIGNING BLAME FOR THE ILL EFFECTS ON MARINE LIFE.. HE SAYS, SO FAR, THEIR RESEARCH HAS NOT SHOWN ANY RISK TO THE CONSUMER FROM EATING FISH TAKEN FROM THE GULF.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS REJECTED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REPEAL THE CONTROVERSIAL SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT, WHICH ALLOWS ALTERNATE TEXT MATERIALS TO BE USED IN SCIENCE CLASS DISCUSSIONS. OPPONENTS SAYS IT'S BRINGING DIVINE CREATION THEORY INTO THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM. THE COMMITTEE DIDN'T AGREE.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS HE'LL REACH OUT TO EDUCATORS FOR HELP FORMULATING PLANS FOR PUTTING NEWLY PASSED EDUCATION
REFORMS INTO EFFECT. WHITE SAYS HE WILL CONDUCT 22 MEETINGS WITH TEACHERS IN 16 CITIES, OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS.. WHITE CALLS THE OUTREACH INITIATIVE "LOUISIANA BELIEVES". HE ASKS TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS TO WORK WITH HIM TO ACHIEVE A CENTRAL OBJECTIVE OF ENSURING ALL STUDENTS ARE ON TRACK TO EARNING A COLLEGE DEGREE OR STARTING A PROFESSIONAL CAREER. WHITE SAYS THE MEETINGS WILL TAKE PLACE ACROSS THE STATE BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR IN MAY. WHITE WILL MEET AT 4 P.M. MAY 2 WITH RAPIDES PARISH TEACHERS AT PEABODY HIGH SCHOOL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER SAYS HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW LARGE A HOLE IS LEFT IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET BECAUSE OF CHANGES MADE TO THE GOVERNOR'S RETIREMENT PROPOSALS. JINDAL'S ASKING LAWMAKERS TO PUSH BACK THE RETIREMENT AGE AND BOOST THEIR PENSION COSTS FOR RANK-AND-FILE STATE EMPLOYEES. HIS BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDED SAVINGS THAT AGENCIES COULD REAP FROM THE CHANGES.
BUT AFTER RUNNING INTO RESISTANCE FOR THE IDEAS, THE GOVERNOR AGREED TO REWORK THE MEASURES , INCLUDING ONE CHANGE THAT WILL DIRECT THE INCREASED PAYMENTS BY WORKERS TO PAY DOWN RETIREMENT DEBT, RATHER THAN TO LESSEN STATE DEPARTMENT COSTS. SENATORS COMBING THROUGH NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET ASKED COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER HOW MUCH THOSE CHANGES LEAVE THE BUDGET OUT OF BALANCE. RAINWATER SAYS ANALYSTS ARE STILL TRYING TO DETERMINE THE IMPACT.

THE STATE HOUSE SENDS LEGISLATION TO THE SENATE THAT CALLS FOR JAIL TIME FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARRESTED TWICE FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED WITHIN A ONE YEAR SPAN. THE BILL CALLS FOR A MINIMUM MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCE OF 30 DAYS ON
A CONVICTION OF A SECOND OFFENSE D-W-I WHEN THE ARREST FOR THE SECOND
OFFENSE OCCURRED WITHIN ONE YEAR OF THE FIRST DWI.

A HEARING IN FEDERAL COURT MAY DETERMINE WHETHER A FORMER LOUISIANA CONGRESSMAN WILL HAVE TO BEGIN SERVING A 13-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR TAKING BRIBES AND OTHER CRIMES. DEMOCRAT WILLIAM JEFFERSON WAS CONVICTED BACK IN 2009 BUT HAS BEEN FREE ON BOND WHILE APPEALING HIS CASE. THE CASE DREW HEADLINES WHEN FBI AGENTS FOUND $90,000 CASH HIDDEN IN JEFFERSON'S FREEZER.

THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A MEASURE THAT WOULD ALLOW CERTAIN ELDERLY PRISON INMATES--SERVING LIFE SENTENCES--A CHANCE AT PAROLE. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH'S BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO VIOLENT OFFENDERS OR SEX OFFENDERS. TO BE ELIGIBLE, THE INMATE MUST HAVE COMPLETED EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT WHILE IN PRISON, AND THEY MUST HAVE COMPETED 10 TO 25 YEARS OF THEIR LIFE SENTENCE. SMITH FEELS THAT IF THE INMATE IS NOT VIOLENT OR A PUBLIC SAFETY RISK, THEN THE STATE SHOULD CONSIDER SAVING SOME MONEY ON THEIR CARE AND HOUSING, BY LETTING THEM OUT EARLY. THAT BILL WILL
NOW GO OVER TO THE SENATE.

THE HOUSE HAS ALSO APPROVED A BILL REQUIRING THAT PARENTS OR CARETAKERS MUST REPORT ANY MISSING CHILD TO AUTHORITIES WITHIN A PRESCRIBED TIME, OR FACE POSSIBLE FINES AND JAIL TIME. THE BILL WAS INSPIRED BY THE TRAGIC CASE OF CAYLEE ANTHONY IN FLORIDA. CAYLEE'S DISAPPEARANCE WAS NOT REPORTED FOR SOME TIME. HER MOTHER, CASEY ANTHONY, WAS EVENTUALLY ACQUITTED OF THE CHILD'S MURDER.

KITTY KIMBALL--CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS--HAS ANNOUNCED SHE'S STEPPING DOWN FROM THE BENCH NEXT JANUARY. KIMBALL HAS SERVED AS A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE FOR THE PAST TWENTY YEARS AND WAS A DISTRICT JUDGE IN THE 18TH DISTRICT FOR TEN YEARS PRIOR TO HER ELECTION TO THE STATES HIGHEST COURT. KIMBALL SAYS SHE'S READY TO SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH HER FAMILY.

THE COAST GUARD REPORTS A SMALL AIRCRAFT, FLOWN BY A SLIDELL PHYSICIAN, HAS GONE DOWN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. PETTY OFFICER JOHN EDWARDS SAYS TWO F-15S WERE SCRAMBLED TO PACE THE PLANE, WHEN IT WAS REPORTED CIRCLING ERRATICALLY. HE SAYS THE F-15 WATCHED THE PLANE HIT THE WATER ABOUT 120 MILES WEST OF TAMPA. SLIDELL OB/GYN DR. PETER HERTZAK WAS FLYING THE PLANE. AUTHORITIES BELIEVE THE PILOT PASSED OUT BEHIND THE CONTROLS.

THERE'S GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS TODAY CONCERNING THE PRICE OF GASOLINE. TRIPLE-A FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE AVERAGE STATEWIDE PRICE OF A GALLON OF REGULAR IS AT $3.79, DOWN A PENNY FROM THIS TIME LAST WEEK. HOWEVER, GROWING TENSIONS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND IRAN COULD BRING ANOTHER PRICE EXPLOSION AT ANYTIME. AND THAT'S PROBABLY GOING TO LEAD TO LESS TRAVELING THIS SUMMER.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS GOTTEN PERMISSION TO REDIRECT FEDERAL HURRICANE RECOVERY MONEY FROM HOUSING AID PROGRAMS TO SUPERDOME UPGRADES. NEARLY $7 MILLION IS BEING MOVED FROM RECOVERY PROGRAMS, INCLUDING FISHERIES ASSISTANCE, SMALL BUSINESS LOANS AND HOUSING AID, TO ANOTHER PROGRAM THAT WILL HELP PAY FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SUPERDOME. THE PROPOSAL NEEDED APPROVAL FROM THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, WHICH OVERSEES THE SPENDING OF THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN BLOCK GRANT AID ALLOCATED TO LOUISIANA AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA IN 2005.

I-20 IN BOSSIER PARISH IS BACK TO NORMAL, AFTER BEING CLOSED OVER TEN HOURS YESTERDAY. THE REASON? A MULTI-VEHICLE WRECK INVOLVING A BIG RIG CARRYING EXPLOSIVES. THAT DEADLY CARGO SPILLED OUT ONTO THE ROADWAY, AND IT TOOK TIME AND CARE TO CLEAN IT UP SAFELY.

SPORTS..

THE BIGGEST COLLEGE BASEBALL SERIES OF THE SEASON GETS UNDERWAY TONIGHT AS TOP RANKED LSU VISITS SECOND RANKED KENTUCKY. THE WILDCATS ARE A SURPRISING 33-AND-5 AND OWN THE BEST TEAM BATTING AVERAGE IN THE SEC AND KENTUCKY HAS HIT THE SECOND MOST HOME RUNS IN THE LEAGUE. THE TIGERS HAVE WON 14 OF THEIR LAST 15 GAMES, INCLUDING THE LAST SEVEN IN A ROW.

News For Thursday 04/19/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 041912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORP. REPORTS THAT NOBODY WON THE MAJOR JACKPOTS IN THE LOUISIANA LOTTO AND MULTISTATE POWERBALL DRAWINGS WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE LOTTO PRIZE WILL RISE TO AN ESTIMATED $550,000. THE POWERBALL TO AN ESTIMATED $152 MILLION FOR SATURDAY.

HOURS AFTER A MAY 2009 EMERGENCY APPENDECTOMY A LOCAL HOSPITAL, A PATIENT TESTIFIED WEDNESDAY HE FLED THE HOSPITAL RECOVERY ROOM AFTER HE AWOKE FROM SURGERY TO FIND PHILLIP RAINES, THEN A NURSE, ASSAULTING HIM SEXUALLY WITH HIS HANDS AND MOUTH. THE PATIENT, WHO WAS 23 AT THE TIME OF THE SURGERY, WAS THE FIRST WITNESS CALLED IN THE SEXUAL BATTERY TRIAL OF THE 47 YEAR OLD RAINES. IF CONVICTED, THE FORMER NURSE FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL CHOSE A PRIVATE CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN BATON ROUGE TO SIGN LEGISLATION THAT IS DESIGNED TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN LOUISIANA. THE LAWS MAKE CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE AND ALSO PROVIDE PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS TO LOW INCOME STUDENTS. DURING THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, CRITICS COMPLAINED THE ISSUES WERE "FAST-TRACKED", AND THEY PROMISE LEGAL CHALLENGES, BUT JINDAL SAYS THE ADMINISTRATION IS CONFIDENT THE COURTS WILL NOT TAKE ISSUE WITH THE NEW LAWS. JINDAL SAYS THE CHANGES WILL BE IN EFFECT FOR THE FALL SCHOOL YEAR.

A HOUSE BILL AIMED AT LETTING THE STATE SELL A PRISON IN AVOYELLES PARISH HAS BEEN AMENDED INTO A BILL TO ALLOW A PRIVATE COMPANY TO OPERATE THE PRISON. JONESBORO REP. JIM FANNIN AMENDED THE BILL FROM ONE TO MAKE AN OUTRIGHT SALE TO ONE THAT WOULD ALLOW FOR A TEN-YEAR CONTRACT WITH A PRIVATE FIRM TO RUN THE FACILITY. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY, WHO HAS TESTIFIED AGAINST JINDAL'S PLAN IN FRONT OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE, SAID THE PRISON PLAN WILL CREATE "SIGNIFICANT ISSUES" TO SEVERAL GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES IN THE REGION, INCLUDING BOTH HIS CITY AND PINEVILLE, AS WELL AS THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY. THE AMENDED BILL WAS HELD BACK FOR FURTHER DEBATE ANOTHER DAY SOON.

AFTER A DAY OF EMOTIONAL TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, A BILL THAT WOULD CHANGE THE STATE'S ANTI-BULLYING LAWS WAS PULLED BY ITS AUTHOR BATON ROUGE REPRESENTATIVE PAT SMITH. SMITH WITHDREW HER BILL AFTER AMENDMENTS WERE OFFERED THAT SHE FELT WOULD WEAKEN THE INTENT OF THE BILL. STUDENT TANYA OLIVER SPOKE IN SUPPORT OF THE MEASURE. SOME VICTIMS WERE REPRESENTED BY THEIR PARENTS. SMITH'S BILL WOULD HAVE GIVEN TEACHERS, WHO WANT TO INTERVENE, GREATER POWER TO STEP IN TO PREVENT BULLYING. SMITH'S BILL FACED OPPOSITION FROM GROUPS SUCH AS THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND OTHER CONSERVATIVE ORGANIZATION WHO BELIEVE THE BILL PROMOTES A GAY AGENDA.

THE HOUSE HAS UNANIMOUSLY PASSED A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE A MANDATORY 30-DAY JAIL SENTENCE FOR CERTAIN SECOND OFFENSE DWI CONVICTIONS. THE MEASURE PASSED BY A 99-0 VOTE AND HEADS OVER TO THE SENATE.

THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON LABOR IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL THAT WOULD REPEAL A DECADES-OLD BAN ON DISCRIMINATING AGAINST SMOKERS. ST. MARTINVILLE SENATOR FRED MILLS IS THE BILL'S AUTHOR. HE SAYS THE BILL ENABLES EMPLOYERS TO ESTABLISH A SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACE AS A COMPANY POLICY--IF THEY SO CHOOSE. CURRENT LAW BARS EMPLOYERS FROM REQUIRING THEIR EMPLOYEES ABSTAIN FROM SMOKING. IT ALSO BARS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WORKERS WHO SMOKE. MILLS' BILL WOULD UNDO THAT, BUT HE SAYS IT'S NOT HIS INTENT THAT EMPLOYERS FIRE WORKERS, IF THEY SMOKE CIGARETTES. MILLS SAYS THE BILL WOULD ALLOW EMPLOYERS TO MAKE COMPANY POLICY
ESTABLISHING A SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACE. THE BILL IS SCHEDULED IN THE SENATE LABOR COMMITTEE TODAY.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE WOMEN TO HEAR THE HEARTBEAT OF THEIR UNBORN BABY BEFORE THEY COULD HAVE AN ABORTION. BATON ROUGE SENATOR SHARON WESTON BROOME SAYS HER BILL AMENDS A TWO-YEAR-OLD LAW REQUIRING WOMEN TO VIEW AN ULTRASOUND IMAGE OF THEIR BABY BEFORE THE PROCEDURE. KEITHVILLE SENATOR SHERRI BUFFINGTON PROPOSES AN AMENDMENT TO GIVE WOMEN THE RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF THE HEARTBEAT AND ULTRASOUND
REQUIREMENT BY SIGNING A WAIVER. JULIE MICKLEBERRY, WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD, STILL OPPOSES THE MEASURE. SHE SAYS IT'S AN INTRUSION ON THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP. THE MEASURE PASSED THE SENATE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE AND GOES NOW TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU SAYS THE CYBER INNOVATION CENTER IN BOSSIER CITY WILL RECEIVE $2.35 MILLION FOR EDUCATION AND OUTREACH ACTIVITIES.
THE FUNDS ARE INCLUDED IN THE $22.8 MILLION HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS BILL, WHICH SHE AUTHORED.

STATE POLICE CONFIRMS TWO SEPARATE INVESTIGATIONS ARE ONGOING THAT INVOLVE FORMER STATE FIRE MARSHAL BUTCH BROWNING. A REPORT HAS SURFACED, SINCE HIS RETIREMENT, THAT BROWNING WORE UNEARNED MILITARY MEDALS WHILE HE WAS FIRE MARSHAL. THE INSPECTOR GENERALS OFFICE IS ALSO LOOKING INTO ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD AND MISMANAGEMENT OF FUNDS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS BEEN ASKED TO SIGN OFF ON THE FORMAL DETAILS OF A SETTLEMENT BETWEEN BP AND A LARGE GROUP OF PLAINTIFFS WHO ARE SEEKING DAMAGES FROM THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO SPILL. BP ESTIMATES IT WILL PAY ABOUT SEVEN-POINT-BILLION DOLLARS TO RESOLVE THESE CLAIMS WITH PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES. TULANE LAW PROFESSOR ED SHERMAN EXPECTS BP WILL END UP PAYING MORE. THE U-S JUDGE OVERSEEING THIS SETTLEMENT IS EXPECTED TO HOLD A "FAIRNESS HEARING" BEFORE DECIDING ON WHETHER HE'LL GIVE FINAL APPROVAL. THE SETTLEMENT DOES NOT COVER ANY STATE OR FEDERAL SUITS AGAINST BP.

THE STATE HOUSE APPROVES A BILL THAT MAKES THE PIROGUE THE "OFFICIAL BOAT" OF LOUISIANA. RAYVILLE REPRESENTATIVE BUBBA CHANEY IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS LEGISLATION. CHANEY SAYS THE PIROGUE HAS BEEN USED AS A MODE OF TRANSPORTATION FOR OVER 200 YEARS IN LOUISIANA. HE SAYS ITS IMPORTANT TO CAJUNS AND HE MADE THAT POINT KNOWN RIGHT BEFORE THE VOTE. THE MEASURE PASSED THE HOUSE ON A 95-TO-1 VOTE. THE LONE "NO" VOTE? SHREVEPORT REP. ALAN SEABAUGH, WHO FEEL THE LEGISLATION UNFAIRLY OMITS THE LOUISIANA JOHNBOAT.

CALDWELL PARISH SHERIFF STEVE MAY, UNDER A PLEA DEAL WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, PLEADED GUILTY WEDNESDAY TO FIVE MISDEMEANOR COUNTS INVOLVING AN ALLEGED TICKET-FIXING SCHEME. IN ENTERING THE PLEA, THE SHERIFF MAINTAINED HIS INNOCENCE AND SAYS HE ONLY PLEADED GUILTY BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT WAS IN THE PARISH'S BEST INTEREST. MAY, WAS SENTENCED TO A SIX-MONTH SUSPENDED JAIL TERM AND FINE OF $350 AND PLACED HIM ON TWO YEARS OF UNSUPERVISED MISDEMEANOR PROBATION ON EACH COUNT TO RUN CONCURRENTLY. HE ALSO AGREED TO PAY THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE $7,250 , WHAT THE OFFICE WOULD HAVE RECEIVED IN FINES HAD THE TRAFFIC COMPLAINTS BEEN PROSECUTED.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE WILL DEBATE A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD STRIP THE CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT PUBLIC COLLEGE TUITION INCREASES BE APPROVED BY LAWMAKERS BEFORE THEY CAN BE ENACTED. THE BILL WAS BACKED IN A 7-3 VOTE WEDNESDAY BY THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. LOUISIANA HAS THE STRICTEST TUITION BOOST REQUIREMENTS IN THE NATION, NEEDING A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE BEFORE COLLEGE TUITION CAN BE RAISED. COLLEGES HAVE SAID THAT HIGH HURDLE RESTRICTS THEIR ABILITY TO DEAL WITH THEIR OWN BUDGETS, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY FACE CUTS. SUPPORTERS OF THE CURRENT PROCESS SAY IT ENSURES COLLEGES AREN'T PRICING POORER STUDENTS OUT OF THE ABILITY TO GET A DEGREE.
HARRISON'S BILL HAS A TOUGH ROAD TO PASSAGE. BECAUSE IT WOULD CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION, IT REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF BOTH CHAMBERS AND BACKING FROM VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION TO TAKE EFFECT.

A BID TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR BREAKAWAY SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO FORM IN PARISHES ADVANCED THROUGH THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE WITH AN 11-6 VOTE, OVER THE OPPOSITION OF TEACHER UNIONS AND THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION WHO ARGUED IT COULD SIPHON DOLLARS AWAY FROM SOME OF THE NEEDIEST, MOST AT-RISK PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE PROPOSAL GOES TO THE FULL HOUSE. IT WOULD TAKE OUT A CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT BREAKAWAY DISTRICTS GET SUPPORT FROM VOTERS STATEWIDE AND INSTEAD REQUIRE ONLY VOTERS IN THE PARISH WHERE THE NEW DISTRICT IS PROPOSED TO DECIDE ON THE IDEA.

THE SENATE HAS APPROVED LEGISLATION GIVING TAX REBATES TO PEOPLE WHO DONATE MONEY TO NONPROFITS THAT PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH SCHOLARSHIPS TO ATTEND PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS. THE PROPOSAL APPROVED WEDNESDAY IS AIMED AT CHILDREN FROM LOWER-INCOME FAMILIES WHO ATTEND POORLY PERFORMING SCHOOLS, SIMILAR TO THE REQUIREMENTS IN THE NEW STATE VOUCHER PROGRAM. THE PERSON WHO DONATES THE MONEY WOULD GET A TAX REBATE OF ABOUT 95 PERCENT. THE HOUSE-PASSED MEASURE BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, A REPUBLICAN FROM RIVER RIDGE, GOES BACK TO THE HOUSE FOR APPROVAL OF SENATE LANGUAGE CHANGES. IT'S BACKED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL.

THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY BACKED A PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS GET INSTRUCTION ABOUT CELL PHONE SAFETY. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 236) BY REP. VALARIE HODGES, R-DENHAM SPRINGS, MOVES NEXT TO THE SENATE. THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WOULD HAVE TO DEVISE THE TEACHING MATERIALS ON SEVERAL TOPICS INCLUDING: RECOGNITION AND REPORTING OF ELECTRONIC SOLICITATIONS BY SEXUAL PREDATORS, RISKS OF TRANSMITTING PERSONAL INFORMATION, REPORTING OF CYBERBULLYING, RECOGNITION AND REPORTING OF UNSOLICITED AND DECEPTIVE COMMUNICATIONS AND COPYRIGHT LAWS ON PHOTOS, MUSIC AND VIDEOS.

LOUISIANA'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT HAS ASKED THE NATION'S HIGHEST COURT TO HEAR AN APPEAL OF A $104.6 MILLION AWARD TO 18,500 POLICYHOLDERS WHO SUED OVER SLOW ADJUSTMENT OF HURRICANE CLAIMS IN 2005. THE ACTION BY LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. CAME AS AN ORDER WAS ISSUED TO THE EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SHERIFF TO GET THE MONEY FROM THE INSURER'S BANK.
IN A STATEMENT, PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY FRED HERMAN SAID A STATE DISTRICT JUDGE IN JEFFERSON PARISH WOULD DECIDE HOW TO DIVIDE THE MONEY ONCE IT IS TURNED OVER BY REGIONS BANK. CITIZENS' CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RICHARD ROBERTSON, SAID A REQUEST FOR THE U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR THE CASE WAS FILED WEDNESDAY. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF WHEN THE COURT MIGHT DECIDE TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE REQUEST.

THE SENATE VOTED 38-0 WEDNESDAY FOR A BILL AIMED AT KEEPING THE STATE'S MOVIE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM FROM BENEFITING PORNOGRAPHIC PRODUCTIONS. THE BILL DOESN'T DEFINE PORNOGRAPHY. INSTEAD, IT REFERENCES FEDERAL LAW DEALING WITH RECORDS THAT MUST BE KEPT BY PRODUCTIONS THAT CONTAIN VARIOUS TYPES OF SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL. THE BILL GOES NEXT TO THE HOUSE.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE REPORT ON OF THE LARGEST DRUG BUSTS IN RECENT HISTORY. OFFICERS FROM TROOP I ARRESTED TWO PEOPLE FROM JAMAICA ON CHARGES OF POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE MARIJUANA. 843 POUNDS OF THE DRUG WERE SEIZED YESTERDAY.

LSU UNVEILS ARTIST RENDERINGS OF WHAT TIGER STADIUM WILL LOOK LIKE IN 2014. ASSOCIATE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR HERB VINCENT SAYS PLANS ARE IN MOTION TO ADD SUITES, CLUB SEATS AND 15-HUNDRED GENERAL PUBLIC SEATS TO BRING TIGER STADIUM'S CAPACITY TO AROUND 100-THOUSAND. VINCENT SAYS THE SOUTH END ZONE EXPANSION WILL COST ABOUT 80-MILLION DOLLARS AND IT WILL BE PAID FOR BY THE TIGER ATHLETIC FOUNDATION. VINCENT SAYS IF THEY RECEIVE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVAL, CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN THIS FALL AND THE PROJECT WILL BE COMPLETED IN THE SUMMER OF 2014...






News For Wednesday 04/18/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 041812
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE CONDITION OF ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT HARRY SILVER CONTINUES TO IMPROVE AFTER A FALL THAT LED TO A BROKEN HIP THIS PAST FRIDAY. SILVER, WHO REQUIRED SURGERY, COULD BE HOME LATER TODAY. SILVER IS WELL-KNOWN FOR HIS WORKOUT REGIMEN, EVEN AT AGE 90. THE COUNCIL PRESIDENT SWIMS EACH MORNING.

THE LEGISLATURE HAS PASSED A RESOLUTION OPPOSING AIR FORCE PLANS TO DISBAND THE LOUISIANA AIR NATIONAL GUARD 259TH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS SQUADRON, PART OF A CAMPAIGN TO KEEP ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT'S CONTROL TOWER STAFFED BY THE MILITARY FOR 24-HOUR OPERATIONS. THE LEGISLATION WAS PUSHED THROUGH BY FIRST TERM REPRESENTATIVE LANCE HARRIS A FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY, WHICH OPERATES THE AIRPORT KNOWN AS AEX. HARRIS SAID IN A PRESS RELEASE YESTERDAY “WE ARE NOW COUNTING ON SENATOR (MARY) LANDRIEU, SENATOR (DAVID) VITTER AND CONGRESSMAN (RODNEY) ALEXANDER”. ALL THREE HAVE PLEDGED THEIR SUPPORT.

ADD ONE MORE NAME TO THE LIST, STATE REPRESENTATIVES POISED TO VOTE ON LEGISLATION CALLING FOR THE SALE AND PRIVATIZATION OF THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL CENTER RECEIVED A MESSAGE TUESDAY FROM THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER URGING THEM TO VOTE AGAINST THE PROPOSAL. THE HOUSE IS SCHEDULED TO VOTE TODAY ON HB850 BY REP. HENRY BURNS, R-HAUGHTON, WHICH AUTHORIZES THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS TO CALL FOR BIDS ON OPERATING THE PRISON. THE PROPOSALS WOULD BE EVALUATED AND SUBMITTED TO THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET FOR FINAL APPROVAL.

THE LABOR DEPARTMENT HAS CITED TWO SUBSIDIARIES OF A PINEVILLE-BASED COMPANY FOR ALLEGED SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS. THE DEPARTMENT'S OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT IT HAS PROPOSED A TOTAL OF $72,000 IN PENALTIES FOR DIS-TRAN STEEL LLC AND DIS-TRAN WOOD PRODUCTS HOLDINGS LLC, WHICH ARE SUBSIDIARIES OF CREST INDUSTRIES INC. THE COMPANIES ALLEGEDLY EXPOSED WORKERS TO COMBUSTIBLE DUST, ELECTRICAL HAZARDS AND WELDING HAZARDS. OSHA SAYS IT STARTED INSPECTING THE COMPANIES' SHARED FACILITY IN PINEVILLE LAST OCTOBER. NOBODY WAS INJURED IN THE CASE. DIS-TRAN STEEL EMPLOYS ABOUT 295 WORKERS. DIS-TRAN WOOD PRODUCTS EMPLOYS ABOUT 10 WORKERS. THE COMPANIES HAVE 15 BUSINESS DAYS TO CONTEST THE CITATIONS.

THE GREATER ALEXANDRIA ECONOMIC AUTHORITY IS HELPING TO BRING "HIGH-QUALITY" ART TO CENTRAL LOUISIANA. GAEDA'S BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ON TUESDAY APPROVED AN AGREEMENT WITH THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART THAT WILL PROVIDE THE MUSEUM WITH $160,000 OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS TO BRING EXHIBITS TO THE CITY. CATHERINE PEARS, THE MUSEUM'S DIRECTOR, SAID PART OF THE MUSEUM'S STRATEGIC PLAN IS TO BRING IN "HIGH-LEVEL" EXHIBITS IN HOPES OF ATTRACTING VISITORS TO THE MUSEUM.

THE ACT COLLEGE PREP TEST WILL BE GIVEN TO ALL PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION VOTED IN 2010 TO INCLUDE ACT AMONG THE STANDARDIZED TESTS ALL LOUISIANA STUDENTS TAKE. ON TUESDAY, EDUCATION OFFICIALS SAID THE PLAN WILL BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE 2012-2013 SCHOOL YEAR. COLLEGE-BOUND STUDENTS IN LOUISIANA ROUTINELY TAKE THE ACT, AND THEY CAN TAKE IT UP TO A DOZEN TIMES TO IMPROVE THEIR SCORE — GENERALLY AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. NOW, THE STATE WILL PAY FOR EVERY PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT TO TAKE IT ONCE AS PART OF A SCHOOL ASSESSMENT TOOL. TUESDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT ALSO INCLUDES PLANS TO INCREASE ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES IN HIGH SCHOOLS, AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO TAKE POST-HIGH SCHOOL COURSES. THE PLAN TO INCREASE ADVANCED PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDES FUNDING TO TRAIN 350 TEACHERS TO TEACH SUCH COURSES.

PINK-CLAD WOMEN CONVERGED TUESDAY ON THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL, URGING LAWMAKERS TO CONTINUE SPENDING $700,000 A YEAR FOR A BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING PROGRAM AT LSU HOSPITALS AND CLINICS. LOUISIANA RANKS FIRST IN THE NATION IN DEATHS FROM CERVICAL CANCER AND SECOND IN BREAST CANCER DEATHS. ANDREW MUHL, WITH THE AMERICA CANCER SOCIETY, SAID THE STATE IS ONLY SCREENING ABOUT 13 PERCENT OF THE ELIGIBLE POPULATION. SUPPORTERS OF THE LSU PROGRAM SAID IT IS CRITICAL FOR GIVING ACCESS TO PEOPLE WHO CAN'T AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE. THE STATE MONEY, IN PLACE SINCE 2007, IS USED TO DRAW DOWN AN ADDITIONAL $1.7 MILLION IN FEDERAL MATCH FUNDING. THE CANCER SCREENING PROGRAM FACES CUTS IN THE UPCOMING FISCAL YEAR BUDGET BECAUSE OF CHANGES TO LSU'S OVERALL FUNDING.

LOUISIANA'S FRAGMENTED SYSTEM OF PUBLICLY FUNDED PREKINDERGARTEN AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS WILL BE COORDINATED AND GRADED ON A STATEWIDE SCALE. THE STATE SENATE GAVE FINAL PASSAGE TO THE MEASURE SOUGHT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL IN A 39-0 VOTE TUESDAY, SENDING IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK.

STATE FIRE MARSHAL H. "BUTCH" BROWNING HAS RETIRED TO ACCEPT A JOB IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. LOUISIANA STATE POLICE COL. MIKE EDMONSON SAID TUESDAY THAT FELICIA COOPER, A LONGTIME ADMINISTRATOR IN THE OFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL, HAS BEEN NAMED INTERIM FIRE MARSHAL UNTIL A PERMANENT REPLACEMENT FOR BROWNING IS CHOSEN. EDMONSON SAYS THERE'S NO TIME TABLE ESTABLISHED FOR NAMING A NEW FIRE MARSHAL BROWNING HELD THE POST SINCE 2008.

FEDERAL REGULATORS HAVE APPROVED THE FIRST LARGE-SCALE NATURAL GAS EXPORT FACILITY IN THE U.S., SIGNIFYING THE RAPID SHIFT UNDER WAY FOR A COUNTRY SUDDENLY RICH IN THE NATURAL RESOURCE. THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION CLEARED THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SABINE PASS LNG TERMINAL IN CAMERON PARISH, LA. THE FACILITY, WHICH WILL CHILL NATURAL GAS INTO A LIQUID THAT CAN BE SHIPPED ON TANKERS, WILL ALLOW U.S. PRODUCERS TO EXPORT NATURAL GAS OVERSEAS FOR POTENTIALLY HUGE PROFITS.

THE HOUSE HAS PASSED LEGISLATION TO RESTRICT THE ONLINE USE OF CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS. OPELOUSAS REP. LEDRICKA THIERRY'S BILL APPLIES MOSTLY TO SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES LIKE FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. THE HOUSE PASSED THE MEASURE BY OVER WHLEMING VOTE. THE BILL REPLACES ONE PASSED LAST YEAR--ALSO SPONSORED BY THIERRY--THAT WAS TOSSED OUT BY STATE JUDGES FOR BEING TOO VAGUELY WORDED TO BE CONSTITUTIONAL.

A BILL PROHIBITING DEATH ROW INMATES FROM PROFITING FROM THEIR NOTORIETY HAS PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE. THE BILL BY BATON ROUGE SENATOR YVONNE DORSEY-COLOMB WAS INSPIRED BY SERIAL KILLER DERRICK TODD LEE WHO SOLD A LETTER AND SEVERAL PIECES OF ARTWORK ON THE WEBSITE "MURDERABILIA". HER BILL WOULD REDIRECT PROFITS MADE BY KILLERS TO THE VICTIMS' FAMILIES. COLOMB SAYS HER BILL ECHOES LAWS PASSED IN OTHER STATES, AFTER DAVID BERKOWITZ...THE SON OF SAM KILLER...MADE MONEY ON BOOK AND MOVIE DEALS. THAT BILL HEADS NOW TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

LAST YEAR, LAWMAKERS PASSED A BILL REQUIRING WOMEN TO SUBMIT TO AN ULTRASOUND, AND HAVE IT VISIBLE ON A MONITOR FOR THEM TO SEE, BEFORE THEY MAY HAVE AN ABORTION. TODAY THE SENATE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE WILL CONSIDER A BILL THAT WOULD ADD LISTENING TO AUDIO OF THE UNBORN BABY'S HEARTBEAT TO THAT LAW. JULIE MICKLEBERRY, WITH LOUISIANA PLANNED PARENTHOOD, OPPOSES THE BILL. SHE SAYS IT'S GOVERNMENT INTRUSION IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR, FOR ALL THE WRONG. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY BATON ROUGE STATE SENATOR SHARON WESTON BROOME.

ONE OF THE GOVERNOR'S TOP STAFFERS HAS BEEN MADE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT ON THE WEBSITE FACEBOOK. SOMEONE PUT UP A FAKE PROFILE OF BOBBY JINDAL'S DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF KRISTY NICHOLS, AND MADE POSTS ABOUT CURRENT STATE WORKER RETIREMENT LEGISLATION. ONE POST SAID THE REFORMS WILL BE "A LOT BETTER THAN BEING UNEMPLOYED", AND FOLLOWED WITH "WE ARE WATCHING YOU". THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS NICHOLS DID NOT POST THE COMMENT, AND THE FAKE PROFILE HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THE WEBSITE.

A 10-YEAR LOCAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION OFFERED TO MANUFACTURERS COULD BE EXPANDED AND AVAILABLE TO MORE COMPANIES, UNDER A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED PASSAGE FROM THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE. THE PACKAGE OF BILLS SOUGHT BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WOULD ALLOW PARISHES TO OFFER THE TAX BREAKS TO DIGITAL MEDIA BUSINESSES, DATA CENTERS, RENEWABLE ENERGY FIRMS, CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FIRMS, IF THEY HAVE A MAJORITY OF THEIR SALES OUT OF THE STATE AND MAKE A CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN LOUISIANA GREATER THAN $25 MILLION.

A PROPOSAL TO EXTEND AN EXISTING TAX BREAK GIVEN TO THE NEW ORLEANS HORNETS THROUGH THE STATE'S QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM HAS STARTED MOVING IN THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 1072) BY REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, WOULD GIVE THE TAX BREAK FOR THE LENGTH OF THE HORNETS' NEW LEASE WITH THE STATE, WHICH IS SET TO GO THROUGH 2024. THE TAX CUT SAVES THE HORNETS $3.7 MILLION ANNUALLY. THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE BACKED THE BILL WITHOUT OBJECTION TUESDAY.

AN INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION TUESDAY ASKED GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO END FOUR DECADES OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR TWO FORMER BLACK PANTHERS CONVICTED OF MURDERING A LOUISIANA PRISON GUARD. 65 YEAR OLD ALBERT WOODFOX AND 70 YEAR OLD HERMAN WALLACE WERE SERVING UNRELATED SENTENCES FOR ARMED ROBBERY IN 1972 WHEN THEY WERE CHARGED AND CONVICTED WITH FATALLY STABBING A GUARD AND MOVED TO ISOLATION IN THE LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY AT ANGOLA.
THEY HAVE SINCE BEEN MOVED TO "CLOSED CELL RESTRICTION" IN OTHER STATE JAILS, WHERE THEY REMAIN IN SINGLE CELLS FOR PERIODS OF TYPICALLY 23 HOURS A DAY.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DELIVERED A PETITION TO JINDAL'S OFFICE, CONTAINING 65,000 SIGNATURES FROM PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WHO CALLED THE CONFINEMENT INHUMAN AND DEGRADING AND WHO URGED THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR TO HAVE THE MEN MOVED TO THE GENERAL PRISON POPULATIONS.


SPORTS..

LSU DEFENDS ITS NUMBER ONE RANKING IN COLLEGE BASEBALL WHEN THE TIGERS HOST LAMAR TONIGHT. THE BAYOU BENGALS HAVE WON 13 OF THEIR LAST 14 AND THEY ARE 30-AND-7 OVERALL. FIRST PITCH IS AT 6:30 TONIGHT. THAT GAME ON 970 KSYL.

THE SAINTS' 2012 REGULAR SEASON BYE COMES IN WEEK 6, MEANING INTERIM HEAD COACH JOE VITT'S SIX-GAME SUSPENSION WON'T END UNTIL AFTER THE SAINTS PLAY AT TAMPA BAY IN WEEK 7. IT WAS NOT CLEAR WHEN THE SAINTS' BYE WOULD COME UNTIL THE NFL RELEASED ITS FULL REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE ON TUESDAY NIGHT, WELL AFTER VITT WAS APPOINTED TO TAKE ON HEAD COACHING DUTIES IN THE ABSENCE OF SEAN PAYTON. THE SAINTS OPEN THE REGULAR SEASON AT HOME AGAINST WASHINGTON.








News For Tuesday 04/17/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 041712
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PLAN TO COORDINATE LOUISIANA'S PATCHWORK SYSTEM OF PREKINDERGARTEN AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS NEARED FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, WITH A UNANIMOUS HOUSE VOTE MONDAY. THE PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 581) WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD TO DEVISE AN INTEGRATED NETWORK OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND CHILD CARE CENTERS THAT RECEIVE PUBLIC FUNDING, WITH SPECIFIC STANDARDS, PERFORMANCE TARGETS AND LETTER GRADES. BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE BACKED THE BILL, WHICH RETURNS TO THE SENATE FOR APPROVAL OF MINOR HOUSE CHANGES. THE GRADING STANDARDS AND PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS MUST BE PUT IN PLACE BY THE 2015-16 SCHOOL YEAR.

A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL 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 IS NEARING FINAL PASSAGE, AFTER GETTING A 9-2 VOTE FROM THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. THE HOUSE-APPROVED MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 969) GOES TO THE FULL SENATE. THE PROPOSAL WOULD BEGIN WITH DONATIONS FOR TUITION IN THE 2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR.

IT WAS A BATTLE OF LEGAL OPINIONS AS THE SENATE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE COMBED THROUGH GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSALS TO PUSH BACK THE RETIREMENT AGE FOR ABOUT 50,000 RANK-AND-FILE STATE WORKERS AND PUBLIC COLLEGE EMPLOYEES AND TO CHARGE THEM MORE FOR THEIR PENSIONS. WITHOUT OBJECTION MONDAY, THE COMMITTEE APPROVED THE PACKAGE OF BILLS AFTER HOURS OF LEGAL DISAGREEMENTS AND PROMISES THAT IF ANY OF THESE CHANGES GET FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE, THEY WILL BE CHALLENGED IN COURT.[] AS HEADED TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE, ONE MEASURE WOULD INCREASE THE AMOUNT STATE WORKERS PAY TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT FROM 8 PERCENT OF THEIR SALARY TO 11 PERCENT. ANOTHER BILL WOULD REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO WORK LONGER TO GET THEIR FULL RETIREMENT BENEFITS, TO AS MUCH AS 67 YEARS OLD, DEPENDING ON HOW MANY YEARS THEY'VE BEEN IN THE SYSTEM AND THEIR CURRENT AGE.
OTHER PROPOSALS WOULD MAKE IT MUCH TOUGHER FOR RETIREMENT SYSTEMS TO PASS COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS FOR RETIREES AND WOULD CALCULATE THE MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT ON AN EMPLOYEE'S TOP FIVE YEARS OF SALARY INSTEAD OF THREE YEARS.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE BACKED A MEASURE THAT CALLS ON CONGRESS TO STOP FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD. THE LEGISLATION BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE, HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE, WHERE A SIMILAR PROPOSAL FAILED TO GAIN FINAL PASSAGE LAST YEAR. HOFFMANN SAID HE SPONSORED THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 11) BECAUSE HE WANTS PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO STOP RECEIVING TAX DOLLARS UNTIL THEY STOP PROVIDING ABORTIONS, EVEN THOUGH TAX MONEY ISN'T USED FOR THE PROCEDURE. OPPONENTS OF HOFFMANN'S LEGISLATION SAID REMOVAL OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE ORGANIZATION WOULD THREATEN HEALTH CARE FOR MILLIONS OF WOMEN WHO RELY ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD FOR BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER SCREENINGS, HIV TESTING AND PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE.

WELFARE RECIPIENTS WOULD BE PROHIBITED FROM SPENDING THEIR CASH ASSISTANCE ON LIQUOR, CIGARETTES, GAMBLING AND SEXUALLY ORIENTED BUSINESSES LIKE STRIP CLUBS, IF THE SENATE AGREES TO A BILL PASSED IN THE HOUSE YESTERDAY. REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE SAYS THE STATE RISKS LOSING FEDERAL FUNDS WITHOUT A PROHIBITION. THE STATE SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE TO ENACT THE MEASURE BY FEBRUARY 2013, IF LAWMAKERS PASS THE BILL. THE LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE SAID THE BILL WOULD REQUIRE THE SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT TO REWORK ITS EXISTING CONTRACT AND SOFTWARE SYSTEM AT AN ESTIMATED $454,000 COST IN THE FIRST YEAR AND $228,000 ANNUAL COST EACH YEAR AFTER THAT. NO MONEY HAS BEEN EARMARKED FOR THE EXPENSES.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE HAS AGREED TO PROHIBIT SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF THE ENTRANCE TO ANY BUILDING WHERE SMOKING ALREADY IS BANNED. REPUBLICAN REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, OF WEST MONROE, SAYS HE'S PUSHING THE PROPOSAL BECAUSE OF THE DANGERS OF SECONDHAND CIGARETTE SMOKE. LOUISIANA PROHIBITS SMOKING IN RESTAURANTS, PUBLIC PLACES, PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND MANY PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT.
HOFFMANN'S PROPOSAL WOULD EXTEND THE BAN TO WITHIN 25 FEET OF THOSE BUILDINGS' ENTRANCES AND TO THEIR WHEELCHAIR RAMPS. IT WOULDN'T APPLY TO PLACES LIKE CASINOS, BARS AND PRIVATE RESIDENCES, WHICH ARE EXEMPT FROM THE STATE'S SMOKING BAN. THE HOUSE VOTED 81-12 MONDAY FOR THE MEASURE, SENDING IT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE IS GETTING READY TO DECIDE WHETHER THE STATE BOARD OF ETHICS SHOULD HAVE A BIT MORE POWER IN ENFORCEMENT OF THE STATE ETHICS CODE.
THE BOARD OF ETHICS INVESTIGATES AND ACTS AS A PROSECUTOR WHEN A PUBLIC OFFICIAL IS ACCUSED OF AN ETHICAL VIOLATION. BUT A BOARD OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES DECIDES WHETHER A VIOLATION HAS ACTUALLY OCCURRED. CURRENTLY, THE BOARD OF ETHICS CANNOT APPEAL THE ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL'S DECISIONS. BUT THE HOUSE ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON COULD VOTE TO GIVE THE BOARD THE RIGHT TO APPEAL IN COURT. EVEN IF THE BILL IS APPROVED, IT COULD BE DIFFICULT FOR THE BOARD TO REVIVE A CASE AGAINST A PUBLIC OFFICIAL: IT WOULD TAKE A UNANIMOUS VOTE OF THE 11-MEMBER BOARD TO PURSUE AN APPEAL.

THE STATE'S FILM TAX CREDITS WOULDN'T BE AVAILABLE TO THE MAKERS OF PORNOGRAPHIC FILMS, UNDER A BILL THAT RECEIVED PASSAGE FROM THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE YESTERDAY. IT HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. THE STATE'S DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SAID NO TAX CREDITS HAVE BEEN SOUGHT FOR PORNOGRAPHIC FILMS SINCE THE START OF THE STATE'S TAX BREAK PROGRAM.

A PROPOSAL TO LET THE STATE TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT BORROW $325 MILLION TO REPAIR AND UPGRADE RURAL ROADS ACROSS LOUISIANA RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM A SENATE COMMITTEE IN A 10-1 VOTE. ROADS IN ALL OF THE STATE'S PARISHES, EXCEPT ORLEANS PARISH, WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR MONEY, WHICH WOULD PAY FOR WORK ON ROADS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS IN THE HIGHWAY PROGRAM. THE HOUSE-BACKED MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 783) GOES TO THE FULL SENATE.

LANDOWNERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO HUNT NUISANCE FERAL HOGS ON THEIR PROPERTY YEAR-ROUND IF THE HUNTERS NOTIFY THE LOCAL SHERIFF, THE HOUSE DECIDED IN A 91-6 VOTE. THE PROPOSAL GOES NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE WILL DEBATE WHETHER TO BAN THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING. SIMILAR PROPOSALS HAVE FAILED IN RECENT YEARS TO GAIN TRACTION WITH THE LEGISLATURE. BUT THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE VOTED 9-7 MONDAY TO ADVANCE THE BILL TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR ANOTHER DEBATE. LOUISIANA CURRENTLY HAS A BAN ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING AND A PROHIBITION ON YOUNGER DRIVERS USING CELL PHONES.

THE ALEXANDRIA/PINEVILLE AREA CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU HAS LAUNCHED A SMART PHONE ACCESSIBLE WEBSITE. VISITORS AND AREA RESIDENTS CAN ACCESS EVERYTHING TO SEE AND DO IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA VIA THEIR SMART PHONE.
WHEN WWW.THEHEARTOFLOUISIANA.COM IS ENTERED INTO A PHONE'S SEARCH ENGINE, THE SITE WILL AUTOMATICALLY PROVIDE EASY-TO-VIEW ACCESS TO RESTAURANTS, SHOPPING, LOCAL ATTRACTIONS, HOTELS AND MOTELS, AND EVENTS. THE NEW MOBILE SITE INCLUDES FEATURES SUCH AS GEO-LOCATION, AN ITINERARY BUILDER, AND QUICK ACCESS TO THE CVB'S TWITTER AND FACEBOOK PAGES.

THE ALEXANDRIA BEST BUY STORE IS NOT AMONG THE 50 STORES THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS COMPANY IS CLOSING. BEST BUY RELEASED THE LIST SATURDAY OF THE STORES IT WILL CLOSE THIS YEAR TO CUT COSTS. SEVEN OF THE STORES ON THE CLOSURE LIST ARE IN CALIFORNIA, SIX ARE IN ILLINOIS AND SIX ARE IN THE COMPANY'S HOME STATE OF MINNESOTA. NO STORES IN LOUISIANA ARE SLATED FOR CLOSURE. BEST BUY ANNOUNCED ON MARCH 29 THAT IT WOULD CLOSE SOME OF ITS LARGEST STORES, CUT 400 CORPORATE JOBS AND TRIM $800 MILLION IN COSTS IN RESPONSE TO SLOWING SALES.

A FEDERAL JUDGE ON MONDAY EXTENDED A DEADLINE FOR BP AND A TEAM OF PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEYS TO FILE DETAILS OF A PROPOSED SETTLEMENT DESIGNED TO RESOLVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ECONOMIC DAMAGE CLAIMS SPAWNED BY THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE CARL BARBIER EXTENDED THE DEADLINE TO WEDNESDAY MORNING, SAYING THE PARTIES NEEDED MORE TIME TO FINISH COMPILING SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION AND EXHIBITS. LONDON-BASED BP PLC ESTIMATES IT WILL PAY ABOUT $7.8 BILLION TO RESOLVE PRIVATE PARTY CLAIMS, BUT THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT DOESN'T HAVE A CAP.

SPORTS..

THE NBA'S ALL-STARS WILL BE BACK IN THE BIG EASY TWO SEASONS FROM NOW. WHETHER NEW ORLEANS' NBA FRANCHISE WILL STILL BE KNOWN AS THE HORNETS BY THEN IS ANOTHER MATTER. THREE DAYS AFTER SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON AGREED TO BUY THE HORNETS AND SIGN A LEASE EXTENSION AT NEW ORLEANS ARENA, NBA COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN CAME DOWN TO THE BAYOU AND ANNOUNCED THAT NEW ORLEANS WILL HOST THE 2014 ALL-STAR GAME AS "A REWARD TO THE GOOD CITIZENS OF THIS CITY AND THE SPONSORS AND TICKET HOLDERS" WHO HELPED SOLIDIFY THE TEAM'S FINANCIAL FOOTING BEFORE IT WAS SOLD.

News For Monday 04/16/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 041612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN


THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE DEBATES TODAY THE ISSUE OF PROHIBITING THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELLPHONES WHILE DRIVING AND TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR TEXTING BEHIND THE WHEEL. HIGHWAY SAFETY ANALYST COL. JIM CHAMPAGNE SAYS THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT CELL PHONE USE IS MAKING OUR HIGHWAYS MORE DANGEROUS. SOME LAWMAKERS FEEL IT WOULD BE ENOUGH SIMPLY TO BAN THE USE OF HAND HELD PHONES. CHAMPAGNE SAYS THAT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT KIND OF PHONE IT IS, CELLPHONES POSE A HAZARD TO MOTORIST.

ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY, INCLUDED IN THE BILLS LAWMAKERS WILL DEBATE IS HB 378 BY REP. FRANK HOFFMANN, R-WEST MONROE. THE BILL WOULD BAN SMOKING WITHIN 25 FEET OF THE ENTRANCE TO A BUILDING OR A WHEELCHAIR RAMP, AND ALLOWS EMPLOYERS TO ESTABLISH NO-SMOKING ZONES BEYOND 25 FEET.
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THE HOUSE TODAY ALSO IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE SB 581 BY SEN. CONRAD APPEL, R-METAIRIE, WHICH ESTABLISHES AN ACADEMIC GRADING SCALE FOR CHILD-CARE CENTERS SO PARENTS CAN SEE HOW WELL THEY HANDLE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TODAY AND TUESDAY WILL HEAR PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON THE PROPOSED BUDGET THAT GOES INTO EFFECT JULY 1. AFTERWARD, THE COMMITTEE WILL CONSIDER WHAT'S EXPECTED TO BE A LENGTHY SET OF AMENDMENTS BEFORE SENDING THE BILL TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE. CHAIRMAN REP. JIM FANNIN, D-JONESBORO, HAS EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE USE OF ONE-TIME DOLLARS IN HB 1, THE BUDGET BILL, AND THE FUNDING IN THE BILL THAT'S CONTINGENT ON THE PASSAGE OF OTHER LEGISLATION. IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, FANNIN HAS LED THE COMMITTEE IN TAKING OUT CONTINGENCIES AND MAKING CUTS OR REPLACING THEM WITH WHAT HE CALLS "REAL DOLLARS."

THE SENATE REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HAS ON ITS SCHEDULE TODAY HB 969 BY REP. KIRK TALBOT, R-RIVER RIDGE, WHICH CREATES A SYSTEM FOR FUNDING VOUCHERS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS TO SWITCH TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS.
THE BILL, WHICH HAS CLEARED THE HOUSE, SAYS THE STATE WILL REBATE TO CONTRIBUTORS 95 PERCENT OF DONATIONS TOWARD FUNDING VOUCHERS. ONLY THE AMOUNT USED FOR VOUCHERS WOULD BE REBATED. OPPONENTS POINTED OUT THAT THE STATE IS ACTUALLY PAYING FOR THE VOUCHERS. THE 5 PERCENT IS KEPT BY A NONPROFIT "SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION" THAT'S TO BE CREATED TO HANDLE THE PAPERWORK OF DISPERSING THE VOUCHERS.

LOUISIANA’S STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION WILL DECIDE WHAT TESTS AND OTHER SCRUTINY PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS FACE IF THEY ACCEPT STUDENTS WHO GET STATE SUBSIDIES. ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUES THAT REMAINS UNSETTLED, IS EXACTLY WHAT SORT OF ACCOUNTABILITY SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS WHO TAKE PART WILL FACE. THAT INCLUDES ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL STANDARDIZED TESTS, WHETHER STUDENTS HAVE TO PASS THEM FOR PROMOTION, LETTER GRADES FOR SCHOOLS THAT PARTICIPATE AND TEACHER EVALUATIONS. THE FINAL VERSION OF ANY RULES WILL HAVE A BIG IMPACT ON HOW MANY SCHOOLS TAKE PART, INCLUDING LOUISIANA’S 187 ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS THAT ENROLL ABOUT 80,000 STUDENTS. THE ACCOUNTABILITY REQUIREMENT WAS ADDED DURING HOUSE DEBATE, AND HAS TO BE IN PLACE BY AUG. 1


THE FULL HOUSE WILL DEBATE A BILL TODAY THAT ATTEMPTS TO PREVENT WELFARE RECIPIENTS FROM USING THEIR GOVERNMENT BENEFITS ON LIQUOR, GAMBLING, OR IN STRIP CLUBS. NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE CAMERON HENRY SAYS CURRENTLY THOSE ON WELFARE GET THEIR FEDERAL BENEFITS ON A DEBIT CARD AND HIS BILL WOULD PREVENT THEM FROM MAKING CASH WITHDRAWALS FROM THOSE CARDS. HENRY SAYS HE'S SEEN EVIDENCE THAT WELFARE RECIPIENTS IN LOUISIANA ACCUMULATED 50-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN ATM FEES IN ONE MONTH. HE SAYS UNFORTUNATELY, IN MANY CASES, THAT MONEY IS GOING TO CASINOS, DAIQUIRI SHOPS AND STRIP CLUBS.

A NATIONAL MOVEMENT TO CHANGE THE WAY WE ELECT PRESIDENTS HAS LEGISLATION IN THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. TOM TANCREDO SPOKESPERSON FOR SUPPORT POPULAR VOTE, SAYS OUR CURRENT SYSTEM OF PICKING PRESIDENTS IS OUT OF TOUCH. HE SAYS ITS TIME WE ELECTED THE PRESIDENT BASED ON THE VOTES OF ALL THE PEOPLE. TANCREDO SAYS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE SYSTEM CONCENTRATES POWER IN A
HANDFUL OF SO-CALLED BATTLEGROUND STATES. HE SAYS POLITICAL PARTIES, AND THEIR CANDIDATES, FOCUS THEIR EFFORTS AND THEIR DOLLARS ON THOSE STATES WHILE PRACTICALLY IGNORING THE REST. HE SAYS THAT CREATES THE TEMPTATION TO MISUSE POLITICAL POWER FOR POLITICAL GAIN. TANCREDO SAYS DOING AWAY WITH THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WOULD FORCE CANDIDATES TO ADDRESS THE CONCERNS OF ALL THE PEOPLE.

SAINTS OWNER TOM BENSON IS NOW THE NEW OWNER OF THE NBA NEW ORLEANS HORNETS. THE LEAGUE APPROVED THE SALE OF THE FRANCHISE TO BENSON FOR 338-MILLION DOLLARS. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS SPORTS FOUNDATION, JAY CICERO, SAYS THIS IS ALSO GREAT NEWS FOR THE HORNETS FANBASE, WHO BOUGHT UP 10-THOUSAND SEASON TICKETS EVEN WHEN THE BEES DIDN'T HAVE AN OWNER. BENSON SAYS HE IS CONSIDERING CHANGING THE NAME OF THE TEAM TO SOMETHING THAT WOULD RELATE TO NEW ORLEANS.

THE NAME IRENE IS BEING RETIRED FROM THE LIST OF STORM NAMES BECUASE OF THE HAVOC IT CAUSED. THE 2011 HURRICANE KLLED 49 PEOPLE AND CAUSED MORE THAN $15 BILLION DAMAGE. THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION SAYS THE NAME IRENE WILL BE REPLACED WITH IRMA.

GRAMBLING STATE FOOTBALL COACH DOUG WILLIAMS IS SUING G-S-U, BECAUSE HE CLAIMS THE UNIVERSITY HAS GONE BACK ON WHAT THEY ORIGINALLY SAID THEY WOULD PAY HIM. WILLIAMS WAS RE-HIRED AT GRAMBLING LAST SEASON AND HAS BEEN WORKING WITHOUT A CONTRACT.

EVEN IF THE AIR FORCE DISMANTLES A UNIT OF AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS WHO RUN THE ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CONTROL TOWER, AIRPORT OFFICIALS SAY THEY PLAN TO KEEP THE AIRPORT RUNNING 24 HOURS DAY TO SUPPORT MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS. OFFICIALS AT ENGLAND AIRPARK, WHICH OPERATES AEX, ARE WAGING A CAMPAIGN TO KEEP THE 259TH. JON GRAFTON, THE AIRPARK EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN AEX SAYS THOUGH, IF THE AIR FORCE TRANSFERS THE 259TH, IT COULD PUT A FINANCIAL BURDEN ON THE AIRPORT. THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION NOW PAYS THE AIR FORCE ABOUT $250,000 A YEAR FOR THE 259TH'S SERVICES, GRAFTON SAID. THE FAA WOULD CONTINUE TO PAY FOR TOWER CONTROLLERS, GRAFTON SAID, BUT THE COSTS OF RUNNING A 24-HOUR OPERATION AT AEX WOULD EXCEED WHAT THE FAA ALLOTS.

THE STATE HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD PROHIBIT THE SELLING OF CATS AND DOGS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD OR AT OTHER PUBLIC LOCATIONS. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE TONY LIGI SAYS THERE ARE TOO MANY CASES OF PEOPLE BUYING A CUTE PUPPY ALONG THE HIGHWAY ONLY FOR THAT DOG TO END UP IN A SHELTER. THE MEASURE PASSED ON A 64-23 VOTE AND HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

LSU BASEBALL IS TIED WITH KENTUCKY FOR THE BEST CONFERENCE RECORD IN THE SEC AFTER SWEEPING ALABAMA THIS PAST WEEKEND. THE TIGERS COMPLETED THE SWEEP WITH A FIVE TO ONE WIN OVER THE CRIMSON TIDE ON SUNDAY.





News For Friday 04/13/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 041312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ANNOUNCE THAT LINEBACKERS COACH JOE VITT WILL SERVE AS INTERIM HEAD COACH DURING SEAN PAYTON'S YEAR-LONG SUSPENSION FOR THE BOUNTY SCANDAL. VITT WILL ASSUME LEADERSHIP DUTIES MONDAY, WHEN PAYTON'S SUSPENSION BEGINS. VITT IS ALSO UNDER AN NFL-IMPOSED SUSPENSION FOR HIS PART IN THE PAY-
FOR-PAIN PROGRAM. HE MUST SIT OUT THE FIRST SIX REGULAR SEASON GAMES. GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS SAYS THE TEAM WILL WORK THROUGH THE OFF SEASON UNDER VITT'S LEADERSHIP, AND DECIDE A COURSE OF ACTION FOR THE WEEKS OF VITT'S SUSPENSION PROBABLY DURING TRAINING CAMP.

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS A NEW METHOD FOR EVALUATING THE PERFORMANCE OF SUPERINTENDENT DR. GARY JONES. THE NEW EVALUATION, WHICH WAS PASSED BY THE SCHOOL BOARD EARLIER THIS WEEK, WILL GRADE JONES ON 34 DIFFERENT AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY THAT ARE BROKEN INTO SIX CATEGORIES. THOSE BEING, GENERAL LEADERSHIP AND PERSONAL QUALITIES, BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, PERSONNEL, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM AND PLANNING, COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS AND THE SUPERINTENDENT'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD. JONES, WHO WAS OUT OF THE OFFICE THIS WEEK, SAID AT THE MEETING THAT THE EVALUATION COMES DOWN TO A POPULARITY CONTEST. HE CHALLENGED BOARD MEMBERS TO DECIDE WHAT MESSAGE IT WOULD SEND ON THE LEADERSHIP TRAITS THEY ARE LOOKING FOR IN A SUPERINTENDENT.

U.S. SEN. DAVID VITTER HAS TAKEN A CRITICAL SWIPE AT FELLOW REPUBLICAN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGETING PLANS, SAYING THE USE OF ONE-TIME MONEY TO PAY FOR ONGOING EXPENSES IS POOR FISCAL POLICY. THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR RELIES ON $230 MILLION IN ONE-TIME MONEY FOR ONGOING EXPENSES. NEARLY ALL OF THAT IS PLUGGED INTO HEALTH CARE TO GET $506 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL FEDERAL MATCHING MONEY. IN AN EMAIL TO SUPPORTERS THURSDAY, VITTER SAID THE STATE'S CONTINUED USE OF ONE-TIME DOLLARS FOR CONTINUING PROGRAMS IS "TOO AKIN TO WASHINGTON'S WAY OF BUSINESS, AND LOUISIANIANS RIGHTLY ACKNOWLEDGE WASHINGTON DOESN'T KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT FISCAL STEWARDSHIP."
THE SENATOR URGED "CONSERVATIVE REFORMERS" TO RESTRICT THE USE OF SUCH BUDGET MANEUVERS. LAWMAKERS WILL CONSIDER SUCH A BAN THIS SESSION.

THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD IMPOSE STRONGER PENALTIES AGAINST THOSE CONVICTED FOR A SECOND D-W-I. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, LIVINGSTON REPRESENTATIVE SHERMAN MACK, SAYS THE PENALTY FOR A SECOND DWI OFFENDER IS 30 DAYS TO SIX MONTHS, BUT THEY ONLY HAVE TO SERVE TWO DAYS. MACK SAYS 99-PERCENT OF THE TIME, SECOND OFFENDER JAIL SENTENCES ARE SUSPENDED AND THE LAW NEEDS TO BE CHANGED TO REQUIRE MANDATORY PRISON TIME. HE SAYS THIS MEASURE IS IMPORTANT TO HIM, BECAUSE HE LOST HIS BEST FRIEND TO A DRUNK DRIVER WHO WAS CHARGED WITH HIS THIRD OFFENSE.

THE FIRST PARTS OF GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED REVAMP OF LOUISIANA'S RETIREMENT SYSTEMS FOR RANK-AND-FILE WORKERS AND PUBLIC COLLEGE EMPLOYEES RECEIVED ON THURSDAY THE BACKING OF THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE.
THE MOST SWEEPING PROPOSAL ADVANCING TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE WOULD CREATE A CHEAPER INVESTMENT ACCOUNT SIMILAR TO A 401(K) PLAN FOR STATE EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2013, INSTEAD OF A MONTHLY RETIREMENT PAYMENT BASED ON THEIR SALARIES. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 11-1 FOR THE IDEA. THE OTHER MEASURE WOULD MERGE THE ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE LOUISIANA SCHOOL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM INTO THE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF LOUISIANA AND FORCE THE REDUCTION OF 30 EMPLOYEES IN A BID TO LOWER COSTS. THE COMMITTEE BACKED THE BILL IN AN 8-4 VOTE.

WE SEE IT EVERY WEEKEND, DOGS AND CATS FOR SALE IN PARKING LOTS AND ALONG SIDE THE ROAD. HB 231, WHICH CLEARED THE HOUSE 64-23 THURSDAY, WOULD OUTLAW THAT PRACTICE. THE BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO "BONA FIDE HUMANE SOCIETIES, ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS, ANIMAL CONTROL AGENCIES, OR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SPONSORING ANIMAL ADOPTION EVENTS. A FIRST OFFENSE BRINGS A FINE OF UP TO $200. ANY SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE BRINGS A FINE OF UP TO $1,000.

A SHREVEPORT REPRESENTATIVE FILES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ALTER THE STATE'S JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE LAWS. THE PROPOSAL BY ROY BURRELL STEMS FROM THE CONTROVERSIAL SITUATION REGARDING THE FLORIDA SHOOTING DEATH OF 17-YEAR-OLD TRAYVON MARTIN ALLEGEDLY BY A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH VOLUNTEER. HE SAYS HIS LAW ESSENTIALLY SAYS, DON'T PURSUE, CALL THE COPS.

THE RED RIVER WATERWAY COMMISSION SAYS IT HAS REOPENED ABOUT HALF OF THE 19 PUBLIC BOAT RAMPS THAT HAD BEEN CLOSED BY HIGH WATER. MIKE BOYDSTUN SAYS FOUR IN NATCHITOCHES PARISH AND TWO IN RED RIVER PARISH WERE OPENED TUESDAY, AND FOUR IN RAPIDES PARISH AND ONE IN AVOYELLES PARISH REOPENED THURSDAY. A GRANT PARISH RAMP IS ALSO OPEN.

WILDLIFE & FISHERIES AGENTS SAY A FATHER AND SON ARE BOTH DEAD AFTER BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING DURING A FISHING TRIP ON THE NATALBANY RIVER. THE BODIES OF LUTHER BAHAM SR. AND JR. WERE FOUND THIS MORNING. AGENTS SAY THERE WERE ABUNDANT SIGNS OF A LIGHTNING STRIKE ON THE SHELTER THE MEN SOUGHT DURING A THUNDERSTORM.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS REJECTED A BILL TO ALLOW VOTERS A LOCAL OPTION ELECTION ON KEEPING OR DITCHING RED LIGHT CAMERAS. NEW ORLEANS AREA REP. JEFF ARNOLD OPPOSES TRAFFIC CAMS; FEELING THEY VIOLATE DUE PROCESS. IN COMMITTEE ARNOLD AND WESTWEGO REP. ROBERT BILLIOT DIFFER OVER THE NEED FOR HIS LEGISLATION. ARNOLD SAYS RED LIGHT CAMS WORK ON PRESUMPTION OF GUILT, WHICH IS NOT HOW THE LAW IS SUPPOSED TO WORK FOR CITIZENS. HE FEELS THE PEOPLE SHOULD MAKE THE CHOICE. BILLIOT SAYS THAT'S A DECISION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, NOT THE STATE...: THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON LOCAL & MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS APPARENTLY DIDN’T AGREE WITH EITHER LAWMAKER AND VOTED 12-5 TO REJECT ARNOLD'S BILL.

LAFAYETTE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF A MAN FOUND IN A BURNING HOME.
POLICE SAY FIREFIGHTER RESPONDED TO A STRUCTURE FIRE AT 12:30 A.M. THURSDAY AND ONCE THE FIRE WAS OUT, THEY DISCOVERED A BODY POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE DEATH AS A HOMICIDE. THE IDENTITY OF THE VICTIM IS BEING WITHHELD PENDING POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION AND NOTIFICATION OF THE VICTIM'S RELATIVES.

A MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY KIDNAPPED TWO WOMEN AND RAPED ONE OF THEM REMAINS HOSPITALIZED AFTER BEING WOUNDED BY OFFICERS WHO RETURNED FIRE WHEN HE SHOT AT THEM. 24 YEAR OLD DURRELLE JONES OF PONCHATOULA FACES CHARGES UPON HIS RELEASE IN BOTH TANGIPAHOA AND ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISHES.

AN AMAZING FEAT HAS OCCURRED IN THE LIVINGSTON PARISH TOWN OF DENHAM SPRINGS. TWO SEPARATE LOTTERY TICKETS WORTH THREE MILLION DOLLARS WERE BOTH SOLD AT THE SAME CONVENIENCE STORE. LOUISIANA LOTTERY SPOKESPERSON KIM CHOPIN SAYS THE WINNING TICKETS ARE FROM TUESDAY'S MEGA MILLIONS DRAWING AND SOLD AT THE MURPHY EXPRESS GAS STATION. CHOPIN SAYS ONE OF THE THREE-MILLION DOLLAR WINNERS HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED, WHILE THE OTHER HAS YET TO COME FORWARD.

THE 2012 PONCHATOULA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL KICKS OFF TODAY AND IT'S EXPECTED THAT OVER 300,000 PEOPLE WILL ATTEND THE THREE DAY EVENT. FESTIVAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN LANELLE ARCENEAUX SAYS THE STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL IS THE SECOND LARGEST FESTIVAL HELD IN LOUISIANA BEHIND MARDI GRAS. SHE SAYS THERE WILL BE A PARADE SATURDAY MORNING THEN ITS OFF TO THE FAIRGROUNDS WITH RIDES, FOOD, MUSIC AND GAMES.

THE HOUSE WRESTLES WITH THE CONTROVERSY OF WHO IS THE OFFICIAL BOUDIN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. CARENCRO REPRESENTATIVE STEPHEN ORTEGO ARGUES FOR HIS RESOLUTION GIVING THAT DESIGNATION TO THE CITY OF SCOTT, LOUISIANA. ORTEGO SAYS SCOTT HAS FIVE BUSINESSES, EMPLOYING 83 PEOPLE, MAKING 1.3 MILLION POUNDS OF BOUDIN A YEAR. JENNINGS REPRESENTATIVE JOHN GUINN SPOKE AGAINST THE RESOLUTION. GUINN ARGUED THAT THE CITY OF BROUSSARD HAS HAD THAT DESIGNATION SINCE 1979 AND JENNINGS WAS DECLARED THE BOUDIN CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE AT THE SAME TIME. HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 41 EVENTUALLY PASSED BY A 60 TO 18 VOTE AND IS NOW WAITING APPROVAL BY THE SENATE.

A MOTEL GUEST AT THE SUPER EIGHT IN PORT ALLEN IS LUCKY TO STILL HAVE HIS ARM. AN ALLIGATOR BIT HIS ARM AS HE WAS TRYING TO TIE UP THE GATOR'S MOUTH,. TIFFANY DUNHAM WORKS AT THE SUPER EIGHT AND SAYS THE MAN KNEW HOW TO DEAL WITH ALLIGATORS BY WATCHING THE SWAMP PEOPLE. DUNHAM SAYS THE GATOR WAS EVENTUALLY CAUGHT BY ANIMAL CONTROL, WHILE THE UNIDENTIFIED MAN WENT TO THE HOSPITAL WITH BITE MARKS.

THE LIVINGSTON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS DEPUTIES GOT A SEARCH WARRANT FOR A DENHAM SPRINGS-AREA RAPPER'S HOME AFTER HIS LATEST CD COVER SHOWED HIM WITH A HANDGUN, KNEELING OVER A BODY. KEITH JOHNSON AKA RAPPER O G SMOOV IS JAILED IN LIEU OF $150,000 BOND. DEPUTIES ALLEGEDLY FOUND A .25-CALIBER HANDGUN AND ILLEGAL DRUGS IN HIS HOME. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS JOHNSON IS A CONVICTED FELON WHO CANNOT LEGALLY POSSESS A FIREARM. DEPUTIES ALSO FOUND A POUND OF MARIJUANA AT THE TIME OF THE RAID.

A WESTWEGO WOMAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO MORE THAN TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR USING PATIENT INFORMATION STOLEN FROM A NEW ORLEANS HOSPITAL FOR HER PERSONAL GAIN. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE ELDON FALLON ON THURSDAY SENTENCED 26-YEAR-OLD SHERRIE BLAIR TO 27 MONTHS IN PRISON. FALLON SENTENCED BLAIR'S BOYFRIEND, 50-YEAR-OLD CLYDE WASHINGTON, TO SIX MONTHS OF "COMMUNITY CONFINEMENT" FOLLOWED BY SIX MONTHS OF HOME DETENTION. PROSECUTORS SAY WASHINGTON WAS WORKING FOR OCHSNER MEDICAL CENTER IN NEW ORLEANS WHEN HE STOLE PRINTOUTS CONTAINING PATIENTS' NAMES, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS, DATES OF BIRTH AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION. BLAIR ALLEGEDLY USED THE DATA TO OPEN ONLINE ACCOUNTS WITH RETAIL AND FINANCIAL COMPANIES UNDER THE PATIENTS' NAMES AND ORDERED A 42-INCH TELEVISION, AN $800 RING, GIFT CARDS AND OTHER MERCHANDISE.


THE THIRD RANKED LSU BASEBALL TEAM IS HOPING THEY'LL HAVE THEIR BEST HITTER BACK IN THE LINE-UP TONIGHT FOR THE START OF A THREE GAME SERIES AGAINST ALABAMA. RAPH RHYMES HAS MISSED THE LAST THREE GAMES BECAUSE OF A CONCUSSION. THE MONROE NATIVE LEADS THE SEC WITH A .465 BATTING AVERAGE. RHYMES SAYS HE'S FEELING BETTER. RHYMES SUFFERED A CONCUSSION WHEN HE WAS BEANED IN THE HEAD ON FRIDAY NIGHT AGAINST FLORIDA. IF HE DOES PLAY TONIGHT, IT COULD BE AS A DESIGNATED HITTER. LSU ENTERS THIS SERIES IN FIRST PLACE IN THE SEC WEST, WHILE ALABAMA IS IN LAST PLACE.



News For Thursday 04/12/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 041212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

PINEVILLE POLICE SAY AN OFFICER SHOT AND WOUNDED A MAN WHILE TRYING TO BRING HIS INTO CUSTODY. POLICE LT. DARRELL BASCO SAYS 49-YEAR-OLD CARTER RHODES IS IN STABLE CONDITION AFTER BEING SHOT IN THE ABDOMEN TUESDAY. BASCO SAYS RHODES' FAMILY CAME TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT EARLY TUESDAY AND SIGNED PAPERS TO HAVE HIM COMMITTED, AND A FAMILY MEMBER CALLED LATER IN THE DAY TO SAY WHERE HE WAS. BASCO SAYS OFFICERS WENT THERE AND TRIED TO TALK TO RHODES, BUT HE CHARGED AT THEM WITH A KNIFE. THE NAME OF THE OFFICER WHO SHOT RHODES WAS NOT RELEASED.

GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO SELL A STATE PRISON IN AVOYELLES PARISH IS NOT SEEING THE SPEEDY SUCCESS OF HIS LEGISLATION REFORMS. THE BILL WOULD SEEK PROPOSALS FROM PRIVATE SOURCES TO BUY THE PRISON IN COTTONPORT--NETTING THE STATE ABOUT $35-MILLION. THE MEASURE NARROWLY GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TUESDAY. ON THE HOUSE FLOOR YESTERDAY, A MOTION WAS MADE TO SEND THE BILL TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE FOR ADDITIONAL REVIEW. HOWEVER, THE HOUSE REJECTED THE REQUEST AND, WITH A 50-45 VOTE, SET THE BILL UP FOR FLOOR DEBATE, POSSIBLY NEXT WEEK.

IF YOU HAVE FARMERS INSURANCE FOR HOUR HOME POLICY, YOU WILL WANT TO LISTEN US. FARMERS IS ASKING FOR AN AVERAGE 39 PERCENT STATEWIDE INCREASE FOR ITS 25,500 INSURED HOMEOWNERS IN LOUISIANA. THE STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT IS EXAMINING THE REQUEST, WHICH WAS FILED LAST WEEK. COMPANY SPOKESMAN JERRY DAVIES SAYS THAT AN INCREASING NUMBER OF FIRE AND STORM CLAIMS LED TO THE REQUEST. FARMERS LAST RECEIVED A HOMEOWNERS' RATE HIKE IN 2009 RANGING FROM 6.9 PERCENT TO 15.5 PERCENT.

U.S. REP. BILL CASSIDY WAS IN CENLA YESTERDAY. THE REPUBLICAN FROM BATON ROUGE, STOPPED AT THE ROYOMARTIN LUMBER CO. HEADQUARTERS IN ALEXANDRIA FOR A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH CENTRAL LOUISIANA BUSINESS LEADERS, AND THEN LATER TOOK A TOUR OF THE ROYOMARTIN PLANT IN OAKDALE. IT’S BELIEVED THAT CASSIDY WILL SOON ANNOUNCE HIS INTENTIONS TO RUN AGAINST US SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU.

THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE APPROVES A BILL ALLOWING THE CHANCE AT PAROLE FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE. ANGOLA STATE PRISON WARDEN BURL CAIN SUPPORTS THE MEASURE. HE SAYS IT'LL HELP WITH OVER-CROWDING AND GIVE SOME PRISONERS HOPE. THAT BILL NOW GOES TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

IT APPEARS THAT RISING GAS PRICES HAVE PEAKED SHORT OF AN ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH. THE CURRENT STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR REGULAR GAS IS $3.82 A GALLON. THE PRICE OF CRUDE OIL HAS DROPPED IN RECENT DAYS AND THE WHOLESALE PRICE FOR GAS HAS DROPPED SIGNIFICANTLY, LEADING GAS WATCHERS TO PREDICT AN END TO RISING PRICES.

THE RED RIVER WATERWAY IS CLOSED TO SHIPPING TRAFFIC BECAUSE OF A LOCK FAILURE NEAR MARKSVILLE. ACCORDING TO LOCKMASTER ROBERT COCO.
PART OF THE GATE AT LOCK AND DAM #1 HAS BEEN REMOVED AND SENT TO AN ALABAMA MACHINE SHOP WHERE NEW PARTS ARE BEING MANUFACTURED.
COCO SAID REINSTALLATION OF THE REPAIRED GATE WILL HOPEFULLY BEGIN FRIDAY AND COULD BE FINISHED AS EARLY AS SUNDAY EVENING.

LOUISIANA’S OWN JOSHUA LEDET RAN AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION ON "AMERICAN IDOL." THE BOOMING 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER FROM WESTLAKE, HAD THE FOX SINGING COMPETITION'S JUDGES ON THEIR FEET WEDNESDAY FOR HIS LIVELY RENDITION OF BRUNO MARS' UP-TEMPO TUNE "RUNAWAY BABY." THE FINALIST WITH THE FEWEST VIEWER VOTES WILL FACE ELIMINATION TONIGHT.

THE HOUSING SLIDE IS TAKING AN INCREASING TOLL ON LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS.
IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC, WHICH TRACKS FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE, SAYS 4,552 LOUISIANA PROPERTIES WERE TARGETED BY SOME SORT OF FORECLOSURE-RELATED NOTICE DURING THE FIRST QUARTER. THOSE RANGE FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAULT TO REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. FORECLOSURE ACTIONS HIT ONE IN EVERY 432 LOUISIANA RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES, RANKING THE STATE 26TH IN THE NATION. REALTYTRAC SAID THE TOP FORECLOSURE RATES DURING THE FIRST QUARTER WERE RECORDED IN NEVADA, CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA, GEORGIA, FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MICHIGAN, COLORADO, UTAH AND WISCONSIN.

A NEW SURVEY SHOWS LOUISIANANS ARE SPLIT ON WHETHER STATE COLLEGES ARE HELPING THE STATE MEET ITS WORKFORCE NEEDS. ACCORDING TO THE POLL CONDUCTED BY THE LSU PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH LAB, 49-PERCENT OF THE RESPONDENTS GIVE PUBLIC COLLEGES EXCELLENT-TO-GOOD MARKS IN DEVELOPING THE WORKFORCE. RESEARCH LAB DIRECTOR KIRBY GOIDEL SAYS THERE'S ALSO MUCH SUPPORT FOR TEH STATE'S TOPS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS. HE SAYS 75-PERCENT OF THE RESPONDENTS OPPOSE REDUCING TOPS GRANT AMOUNTS.

A BATON ROUGE STATE SENATOR WANTS TO BAR FORMER LAWMAKERS FROM THE STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM. SENATOR DAN CLAITOR SAYS NUMEROUS EX-LAWMAKERS GO ON TO HIGH-PAYING STATE GOVERNMENT JOBS, WHICH BOOSTS THEIR PENSION BENEFITS. CLAITOR SAID HE LOOKED AT VARIOUS WAYS TO TRY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM, INCLUDING CAPPING THE FINAL AVERAGE COMPENSATION ON WHICH THE PENSION BENEFIT WOULD BE BASED. BUT HE SAID HE DECIDED THE EASIEST AND BEST WAY WOULD BE TO BAR MEMBERSHIP

A PROPOSAL TO STRENGTHEN LOUISIANA'S BAN ON EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE WILL BE DEBATED BY THE FULL HOUSE. THE MEASURE BY REP. ALAN SEABAUGH, R-SHREVEPORT, WOULD SPELL OUT THAT SOMEONE AUTHORIZED TO APPROVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES FOR ANOTHER PERSON MAY NOT APPROVE ANY PROCEDURE THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED ASSISTED SUICIDE OR EUTHANASIA. THE BILL WAS SUPPORTED WITHOUT OBJECTION WEDNESDAY BY THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. LOUISIANA ALREADY HAS A PROHIBITION IN CRIMINAL LAW AGAINST EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE. BUT SEABAUGH SAID HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS CLEAR IN THE STATE'S MEDICAL CONSENT LAW.

A PROPOSAL HEADING TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE WOULD BROADEN A PUBLIC SCHOOL REQUIREMENT THAT STUDENTS GET INSTRUCTION ABOUT INTERNET SAFETY BY ADDING DISCUSSION OF CELL PHONE SAFETY. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 236) WITHOUT OBJECTION.

A SHREVEPORT LAWMAKER'S ATTEMPT TO MAKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS DISMISS CHILDREN AT NOON ON DAYS WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS EXPECTED TO HIT 100 DEGREES OR HIGHER WAS SHELVED WEDNESDAY BY THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE.
REP. BARBARA NORTON, D-SHREVEPORT, SAID CHILDREN SHOULDN'T BE ON SCHOOL BUSES WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING IN SUCH HEAT, CALLING IT UNSAFE. COMMITTEE MEMBERS SAID LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOL OFFICIALS ALREADY HAVE THE ABILITY TO SEND CHILDREN HOME EARLY FOR WEATHER-RELATED CONCERNS. THEY SAID NORTON'S BILL (HOUSE BILL 833) WAS TOO SWEEPING, AND THEY REJECTED IT WITHOUT OBJECTION.

THE COMPANY THAT MAKES TABASCO SAUCE WILL USE ITS SPICY PRODUCTS TO RAISE MONEY TO RESTORE WETLANDS. PAUL MCILHENNY, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF THE MCILHENNY COMPANY, SAID WEDNESDAY THAT TABASCO BOXES WILL CARRY THE HEADLINE: "TABASCO IS HOT ON AMERICA'S WETLAND AND FIRED UP TO HELP SAVE IT." MCILHENNY, WHO IS A BOARD MEMBER OF THE FOUNDATION, SAID LOUISIANA'S WETLANDS ARE DISAPPEARING AT THE RATE OF A FOOTBALL FIELD EVERY HOUR. THE PACKAGE DIRECTS BUYERS TO THE FOUNDATION'S WEB SITE.

LSU HEAD FOOTBALL COACH LES MILES WILL SIT IN AS AN EXPERT ANALYST FOR THE NFL NETWORK'S COVERAGE OF THE PRO DRAFT ON APRIL 28TH. MILE WILL ALSO BE SUBJECT OF AN INTERVIEW PIECE THE AIR ON THE NETWORK ON THE 26TH AND 27TH.


News For Wednesday 04/11/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 041112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSAL TO SELL A CENTRAL LOUISIANA PRISON TO A PRIVATE OPERATOR NARROWLY RECEIVED SUPPORT TUESDAY FROM THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE, OVER OBJECTIONS FROM CRITICS WHO SAID IT COULD DAMAGE PUBLIC SAFETY.
THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE IN A 13-11 VOTE, SENDING IT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE. JINDAL ADMINISTRATION LEADERS CALLED THE SALE OF THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL FACILITY A WAY TO SAVE MONEY, ARGUING A PRIVATE COMPANY COULD RUN THE PRISON MORE CHEAPLY. THE STATE WOULD LAY OFF EMPLOYEES AND PAY A FLAT FEE TO THE COMPANY FOR OPERATING THE FACILITY. THE SALE ALSO WOULD GENERATE AN ESTIMATED $35 MILLION IN UPFRONT CASH FOR THE STATE. OPPONENTS SAID THE SALE WOULD HARM SECURITY, PUSH PEOPLE TO UNEMPLOYMENT ROLLS AND BOOST THE STATE’S COSTS LONG-TERM.

34 YEAR OLD DEWAYNE FRANKS OF HESSMER IS DEAD AND HIS GIRLFRIEND IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER BEING SHOT IN THE FACE DURING A DOMESTIC INCIDENT YESTERDAY. FRANKS WAS FOUND DEAD IN HIS HOME AND 26 YEAR OLD MICHELLE LEE, HIS LIVE IN GIRLFRIEND, WAS FOUND WITH A GUNSHOT WOUND IN AN ADJACENT YARD AFTER AUTHORITIES RESPONDED TO A CALL OF A WOMAN BEING SHOT SHORTLY BEFORE 7AM.
AUTHORITIES BELIEVE FRANKS SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD WITH A .380-CALIBER SEMI-AUTOMATIC HANDGUN AFTER A DOMESTIC DISPUTE GOT OUT OF HAND. LEE FLED THE HOME TO A NEIGHBOR'S HOUSE WHERE SHE COLLAPSED. THE AVOYELLES PARISH SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORTS SHE IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD WERE TOLD LAST NIGHT THAT THE DISTRICT IS OWED, BY STUDENTS, CLOSE TO $60,000 FOR UNPAID SCHOOL LUNCHES. IN ADDITION TO THAT, EMPLOYEES OWE CLOSE TO $10,000. IN MANY CASES, CHILDREN WHO OWE THE MONEY WOULD ELIGIBLE FOR A FREE LUNCH. BUT, ACCORDING TO ERMA DAVIS, HEAD OF THE DISTRICT'S FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICES, THE PROBLEM IS GETTING PARENTS OR GUARDIANS TO FILL OUT THE SIMPLE PAPERWORK REQUESTING IT. THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IS BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. SUPERINTENDENT GARY JONES SAID THE DISTRICT COULD PROVIDE STUDENTS WHO OWE ONLY MEALS OF A SANDWICH AND AN APPLE, BUT THEY REALLY DON'T WANT TO DO THAT.

JPMORGAN CHASE OFFICIALS SAID TUESDAY THAT THEY WILL DO MORE TO EDUCATE LOUISIANA RESIDENTS RECEIVING TAX REFUNDS ON DEBIT CARDS ABOUT HOW THEY CAN AVOID FEES FOR ACCESSING THEIR MONEY. LOUISIANA'S REVENUE DEPARTMENT HAS REPLACED REFUND CHECKS WITH PRE-PAID CHASE VISA CARDS FOR TAXPAYERS WHO DON'T GET THEIR REFUNDS THROUGH DIRECT DEPOSIT INTO A BANK ACCOUNT. THE DEPARTMENT SAID DOING AWAY WITH THE CHECKS SAVES MONEY. BUT MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE SAID THEY HAVE RECEIVED COMPLAINTS FROM PEOPLE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THE CARDS OR HAVE BEEN CHARGED FEES WHEN THEY DO.

WITH RICK SANTORUM EXITING THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HAS ANNOUNCED HIS SUPPORT FOR EXPECTED REPUBLICAN NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY. JINDAL ISSUED A STATEMENT TUESDAY THAT CONGRATULATED ROMNEY "ON WINNING A HARD FOUGHT RACE. JINDAL SAID HE LOOKS FORWARD TO SUPPORTING HIM IN RETIRING PRESIDENT (BARACK) OBAMA." JINDAL SAID REPUBLICANS SHOULD FOCUS THEIR ENERGY ON THE FALL CAMPAIGN, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS GIVING AMERICAN A CHOICE "BETWEEN OBAMA'S LURCH TOWARD EUROPEAN STYLE BIG GOVERNMENT AND THE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE OF A THRIVING PRIVATE SECTOR WITH A SMALLER GOVERNMENT."
EARLIER IN THE CAMPAIGN, JINDAL HAD SUPPORTED TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY FOR THE GOP NOMINATION.

LOUISIANA'S EDUCATION CHIEF SAYS A TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM THAT WILL EVENTUALLY BE USED STATEWIDE WILL UNDERGO A FEW CHANGES AS A RESULT OF A PILOT PROGRAM. JOHN WHITE OUTLINED THE PLANS DURING A TELEPHONE NEWS CONFERENCE TUESDAY. THE PROGRAM, OFTEN CALLED A "VALUE ADDED" SYSTEM, WILL RATE TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS IN PART BASED ON STUDENT PROGRESS AND ON OBSERVATION OF INDIVIDUAL TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM. AMONG CHANGES OUTLINED BY WHITE IS A PLANNED SIMPLIFICATION OF SOME OF THE ASSESSMENT GUIDELINES. ALSO, WHILE PRINCIPALS WERE ORIGINALLY TO RATE TEACHERS BASED ON THEIR OWN OBSERVATIONS, THE CHANGES WOULD ALLOW OTHER SCHOOL STAFFERS TO OBSERVE TEACHERS, TOO.
THE NEW SYSTEM WILL BE USED TO DETERMINE WHETHER TEACHERS EARN AND MAINTAIN THE JOB PROTECTION KNOWN AS TENURE, UNDER A LAW JUST PASSED BY THE LEGISLATURE.

THE PROPOSED MERGER OF LOUISIANA TECH UNIVERSITY AND LSU-SHREVEPORT HAS BEEN ENDORSED BY THE RUSTON-LINCOLN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
THE NEWS-STAR REPORTS (HTTP://TNSNE.WS/IF5FMP) THE BOARD UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED A RESOLUTION LAST WEEK URGING AREA LAWMAKERS TO SUPPORT A PROPOSED MERGER OF THE TWO INSTITUTIONS INTO ONE ENLARGED LOUISIANA TECH WITH RUSTON AND SHREVEPORT CAMPUSES.
THE PROPOSED MERGER IS THE LEADING RECOMMENDATION OF A STUDY CONDUCTED BY EVA KLEIN AND ASSOCIATES AND SUPPORTED BY THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF REGENTS.

LAWS BANNING RETIRED TEACHERS FROM BECOMING SUBSTITUTES MAY SOON BE A THING OF THE PAST. THE LEGISLATION BY WEST MONROE REP. FRANK HOFFMAN WOULD ALLOW RETIRED TEACHERS TO WORK AGAIN AT 25% PERCENT OF WHAT THEY MAKE IN RETIREMENT PAY. HOFFMAN SAYS THE BAN WAS PUT IN PLACE ORIGINALLY TO PREVENT A "RETIRE REHIRE" SITUATION. THE PROPOSAL UNANIMOUSLY PASSED THE HOUSE MONDAY AND NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM CARRYING LOOSE CATS AND DOGS IN THE BACK OF PICKUP TRUCKS ON MOST LOUISIANA HIGHWAYS WAS OVERWHELMINGLY REJECTED TUESDAY BY THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. OPPONENTS SAID THE PRACTICE IS VERY COMMON IN RURAL AREAS, FOR HUNTING AND FOR AGRICULTURAL WORK. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 12-2 AGAINST THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 676) BY REP. TOM WILLMOTT, R-KENNER. WILLMOTT SAID HE PROPOSED THE MEASURE TO PROTECT THE ANIMALS' SAFETY AND TO AVOID HIGHWAY ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY AN ANIMAL FALLING OR JUMPING OUT OF A TRUCK.

LOUISIANA MOTORISTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET THEIR VEHICLES INSPECTED EVERY TWO YEARS, INSTEAD OF EACH YEAR, THE SENATE AGREED IN A UNANIMOUS VOTE. THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 601) BY SEN. SHERRI SMITH BUFFINGTON, R-KEITHVILLE, WOULD TAKE EFFECT SEPT. 1. THE STATEWIDE CHARGE FOR A TWO-YEAR TAG WOULD COST $20, WHILE THE ONE-YEAR STICKER WOULD REMAIN AT $10. LOCAL PARISHES ALSO ADD CHARGES TO THE PRICE.
IN PARISHES WITH AUTO EMISSION PROBLEMS, LIKE THE BATON ROUGE AREA, ANNUAL INSPECTIONS STILL WOULD BE REQUIRED. THE BILL HEADS TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A PROPOSAL TO LIMIT CITATIONS ISSUED BY AUTOMATED CAMERAS TRACKING DRIVERS' SPEED WAS SHELVED BY THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE, IN AN 8-7 VOTE. REP. JEFF ARNOLD, D-NEW ORLEANS, SOUGHT TO REQUIRE THAT THE TICKET ONLY BE ISSUED IF A DRIVER EXCEEDS THE SPEED LIMIT BY MORE THAN 10 MILES PER HOUR, EXCEPT IN SCHOOL ZONES. LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND MUNICIPALITIES THAT MAKE MONEY FROM THE TICKETS OPPOSED THE BILL. THE SENATE OPPOSED A MEASURE BY SEN. DAN CLAITOR, R-BATON ROUGE, THAT WOULD PROHIBIT SOMEONE RUNNING FOR STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICE IF THEY SERVED AS AN APPOINTEE IN THAT JOB TEMPORARILY. CLAITOR SAID THAT COULD UNFAIRLY BENEFIT A CANDIDATE AND COULD ALLOW AN OFFICIAL TO ESSENTIALLY CHOOSE A SUCCESSOR. THE SENATE VOTED 24-14 AGAINST THE .

DREW BREES IS STICKING UP FOR THE SAINTS AND SAID THEY'LL CONTINUE TO THRIVE DESPITE COACH SEAN PAYTON'S SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION FOR HIS ROLE IN NEW ORLEANS' BOUNTY SYSTEM. SPEAKING AT A NEWS CONFERENCE TO PROMOTE HIS CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT, THE 2010 SUPER BOWL MVP SAID THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE AND PAY-FOR-INJURY. BREES ALSO DECLINED TO SAY WHETHER HE'D SHOW UP FOR OFFSEASON WORKOUTS THAT BEGIN MONDAY. HE'D MUCH RATHER HAVE A LONG-TERM EXTENSION THAN THE FRANCHISE TAG HE'S BEEN SLAPPED WITH.

CADDO SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARE INVESTIGATING A FATAL ACCIDENT ON I-49 SOUTH OF SHREVEPORT. DEPUTIES SAY THE DRIVER OF A NORTHBOUND CAR LOST CONTROL, CROSSED THE MEDIAN AND HIT A SOUTHBOUND UPS 18 WHEELER TUESDAY MORNING.
A PASSENGER IN THE CAR DEAD AT THE SCENE. DEPUTIES SAY THE DRIVER AND A SECOND PASSENGER WERE TAKEN TO A SHREVEPORT HOSPITAL.
THE UPS DRIVER WAS NOT INJURED.


News For Tuesday 04/10/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 041012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE NEWS CAME AS A BIG SURPRISE TO LOUISIANA'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AND LOCAL OFFICIALS. THE NEWS THAT THE AIR FORCE HAS PROPOSED DISBANDING A LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SQUADRON BASED AT ENGLAND AIRPARK . THE 259TH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SQUADRON'S 110 MEMBERS CONTROL THE MOVEMENT OF ALL AIRCRAFT IN THE AIR SPACE SURROUNDING ALEXANDRIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. IN ADDITION TO MANNING THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER, THE UNIT PROVIDES RADAR, NAVIGATION AND COMMUNICATION SUPPORT. A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE ENGLAND AUTHORITY STATES THAT THE MEMBERS OPPOSE THE CLOSURE AND WILL WORK WITH THE OFFICES OF U.S. SENS. MARY LANDRIEU AND DAVID VITTER AND U.S. REP. RODNEY ALEXANDER TO REVERSE THE DECISION.

TODAY IS THE DAY AND MOST LOCAL OFFICIALS PLAN TO BE IN BATON ROUGE, AS THE HOUSE'S BUDGET COMMITTEE IS SET TO DECIDE WHETHER TO SUPPORT A JINDAL ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO SELL A CENTRAL LOUISIANA PRISON TO A PRIVATE OPERATOR.
A SIMILAR PROPOSAL WAS KILLED BY THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE LAST YEAR. BUT THE PANEL HAS SEVERAL NEW MEMBERS WHO ARE ALLIES OF THE GOVERNOR AND WHO COULD CHANGE THE OUTCOME WHEN THE COMMITTEE DISCUSSES THE MEASURE TUESDAY.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION HAS CALLED THE SALE OF THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL FACILITY A WAY TO SAVE MONEY, ARGUING A PRIVATE COMPANY COULD RUN THE PRISON MORE FOR LESS MONEY. OPPONENTS SAY THE SALE WOULD DAMAGE PUBLIC SAFETY AND BOOST STATE COSTS LONG-TERM. THE $35 MILLION EXPECTED FROM THE PRISON SALE WOULD BE PUT INTO THE STATE'S RAINY DAY FUND.

A PINEVILLE WOMAN PLEADED GUILTY MONDAY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN THE OCTOBER 2011 DEATH OF A PRISON INMATE ON COLISEUM BOULEVARD WORK DETAIL. KELLIE GEISEL, 39, ALSO PLEADED GUILTY TO VEHICULAR NEGLIGENT INJURY. SHE WILL BE SENTENCED APRIL 27 BY STATE DISTRICT JUDGE PATRICIA KOCH. GEISEL FACES A MAXIMUM OF 35 YEARS IN PRISON, THOUGH SHE'S LIKELY TO RECEIVE FAR LESS. GEISEL WAS IMPAIRED LAST OCT. 14 WHEN HER VEHICLE VEERED OFF COLISEUM BOULEVARD AND STRUCK A WORK CREW INMATE. 38 YEAR OLD SYLVESTER MILLER DIED FROM HIS INJURIES.

THE LOUISIANA SENATE AGREED MONDAY TO REWRITE THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR GUN AND WEAPON OWNERS SO THAT IT WOULD BE HARDER TO RESTRICT THE USE OF FIREARMS. CRITICS SAY THE CHANGE COULD NULLIFY MOST OF THE STATE'S GUN LIMITS AND OPEN THE DOOR TO GUNS IN SCHOOLS, BARS AND CHURCHES. BUT THERE WAS LITTLE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE TO THE PROPOSAL BACKED BY THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION. THE SENATE SENT THE MEASURE TO THE HOUSE WITH A 31-6 VOTE. IF APPROVED THERE, IT WOULD REQUIRE APPROVAL BY VOTERS IN A STATEWIDE ELECTION BEFORE IT COULD BE ENACTED.

METAIRIE FLORIST ROGER VILLERE HAS WON RE-ELECTION TO HIS THIRD TERM AS CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY. VILLERE HAS HELD THE POSITION SINCE 2004.
ALSO AT A RECENT MEETING OF THE REPUBLICAN STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE, THE STATE GOP'S GOVERNING BODY ELECTED: HE REV. TOMMY FRENCH, PASTOR OF A BAPTIST CHURCH IN BATON ROUGE, AS VICE CHAIRMAN. FORMER LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR DAN KYLE OF BATON ROUGE AS TREASURER. LILLIE BRADY OF SULPHUR AS SECRETARY.

LOUISIANA'S AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE SO-CALLED "PINK SLIME"--OR LEAN, FINELY TEXTURED BEEF---IS A VERY SAFE PRODUCT. "PINK SLIME" HAS BEEN ADDED TO GROUND BEEF FOR TWO DECADES TO REDUCE FAT CONTENT, BUT VARIOUS MEDIA OUTLETS HAVE RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT IT. STRAIN SAYS THOSE CONCERNS ARE UNFOUNDED. PROCESSING PLANTS IN IOWA, KANSAS AND TEXAS HAVE SHUT DOWN DUE TO PUBLIC HYSTERIA OVER THE BEEF PRODUCT. STRAIN SAYS WE'VE BEEN EATING GROUND BEEF WITH THE PRODUCT IN IT FOR MANY YEARS, WITH NO ILL EFFECTS.

AS CRUDE OIL PRICES RETREAT, GASOLINE PRICES KEEP RISING. THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR REGULAR GAS TODAY IS $3.82. THAT'S TWO CENTS HIGHER THAN A WEEK AGO, AND TWENTY CENTS HIGHER THAN A MONTH AGO.

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL HAS REJECTED THE APPEAL OF SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON AND AFFIRMED THE YEAR-LONG SUSPENSION OF THE COACH AND THE SUSPENSIONS OF OTHER SAINTS' OFFICIALS FOR THEIR PART IN THE BOUNTY SYSTEM THE TEAM USED FOR THREE YEARS UNDER FORMER DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG WILLIAMS. GOODELL ALSO UPHELD THE TEAM'S 500-THOUSAND-DOLLAR FINE AND THE LOSS OF THE TEAM'S NEXT TWO SECOND ROUND DRAFT PICKS.

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS WANT MORE TIME TO DECIDE WHETHER TO SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY AGAINST THOMAS STEVEN SANDERS, WHO IS CHARGED WITH A KIDNAPPING THAT RESULTED IN THE DEATH OF A 12-YEAR-OLD LAS VEGAS GIRL WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN CATAHOULA PARISH. THOMAS STEVEN SANDERS, WHO WAS DECLARED DEAD IN MISSISSIPPI IN 1994, SURFACED AS A SUSPECT IN THE DEATH OF LEXIS ROBERTS, WHOSE BODY WAS FOUND IN OCTOBER 2010. THE BODY OF HER MOTHER, SUELLEN ROBERTS, WAS FOUND THE NEXT MONTH IN ARIZONA. SANDERS IS CHARGED WITH THE CHILD'S DEATH IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN ALEXANDRIA. PROSECUTORS HAVE ASKED FOR A 30-DAY EXTENSION UNTIL AUG. 1 TO DECIDE ON SEEKING THE DEATH PENALTY. THE MOTION SAYS DEFENSE ATTORNEYS AGREE WITH THE REQUEST. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL HAS NOT YET RULED

LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE SAYS CUTS TO HIS BUDGET FOR TOURISM ARE HURTING LOUISIANA'S EFFORTS TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE WITH OTHER STATES IN ATTRACTING VISITORS. DARDENNE SAYS INVESTING IN PROMOTING TOURISM REPRESENTS A TREMENDOUS VALUE TO THE STATE. HE SAYS EVERY DOLLAR SPENT ON TOURISM RETURNS $17 TO THE STATE'S ECONOMY. DARDENNE SAYS OVER A THIRD OF HIS BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT STARTS JULY 1ST IS IN WHAT HE CALLS "PASS-THROUGHS"; DOLLARS ALREADY EARMARKED TO BE SPENT ON HOSTING BIG EVENTS LIKE THE 2013 SUPER BOWL AND OTHERS. DARDENNE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THOSE EVENT "PASS-THROUGHS" SHARED WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, SO HE'D HAVE MORE BUDGET AVAILABLE TO PROMOTE TOURISM.

PEOPLE WHO REPORT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE TO AUTHORITIES SHOULD GET WHISTLE BLOWER PROTECTION SO THEY COULDN'T BE FIRED, SUSPENDED OR DEMOTED BECAUSE OF THE ALLEGATIONS, THE LOUISIANA SENATE AGREED IN A 36-2 VOTE MONDAY. THE PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 158) BY SEN. J.P. MORRELL, D-NEW ORLEANS, WAS FILED IN RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF UNREPORTED ABUSE INVOLVING FORMER PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH JERRY SANDUSKY, WHO IS CHARGED WITH DOZENS OF CRIMINAL COUNTS FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF EIGHT BOYS OVER 15 YEARS. THE MEASURE HEADS NEXT TO THE HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A 22-YEAR-OLD BATON ROUGE MAN FACES AT LEAST 11 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERY AND A GANG CHARGE THAT INCLUDES A SHOOTING THAT WOUNDED A MAN WHO TRIED TO HELP A PREGNANT ROBBERY VICTIM. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE DON JOHNSON SCHEDULED JONATHAN MURRAY'S SENTENCING JULY 3. MURRAY'S TRIAL WAS SCHEDULED MONDAY, BUT HE PLEADED GUILTY TO THREE COUNTS OF ARMED ROBBERY AND ONE OF ENGAGING IN A PATTERN OF CRIMINAL STREET-GANG ACTIVITY.
THE GANG ACTIVITIES INCLUDED THE 2010 INCIDENT WHEN CHARLIE CANGELOSI, OF BATON ROUGE, WAS SHOT IN THE STOMACH WHILE TRYING TO HELP A ROBBERY VICTIM NEAR LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSTY. TWO OTHER MEN WERE CHARGED IN THAT CASE. CANGELOSI WAS IN COURT MONDAY. HE SAYS HE'D DO IT OVER AGAIN.

A 30-YEAR-OLD SHREVEPORT WOMAN IS IN THE CITY JAIL FOR ALLEGEDLY TRYING TO THROW HER 10-MONTH-OLD CHILD INTO A CAR THROUGH THE CAR WINDOW. SHREVEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN SGT. BILL GOODIN SAYS THE INCIDENT FOLLOWED A HEATED ARGUMENT BETWEEN THE SUSPECT, CARMEN PAUL, AND THE CHILD'S FATHER. DETECTIVES BELIEVE THE CHILD STRUCK A PORTION OF THE VEHICLE AND SUFFERED A FRACTURED SKULL AND INTERNAL BLEEDING. GOODIN SAYS PAUL IS IN CUSTODY. THE CHILD IS LISTED IN FAIR CONDITION AT A SHREVEPORT HOSPITAL.

A NEW ORLEANS AREA LAWMAKER, WHO'S FOUGHT TRAFFIC AND REDLIGHT CAMERAS FOR YEARS, RENEWS THAT FIGHT TODAY IN THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. REP. JEFF ARNOLD HAS TWO BILLS FOR THE PANEL TO CONSIDER. ONE WOULD BAR ISSUING A SPEED CAM TICKET FOR GOING LESS THAN 10 MILES AN HOUR OVER THE LIMIT. ARNOLD SAYS SPEED CAMS AND RED LIGHT CAMS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO ANY STATE SYSTEM OF CALIBRATION, AND THEY COULD EASILY BE OFF--GIVING OUT TICKETS UNFAIRLY. HIS OTHER BILL WOULD REQUIRE A STANDARDIZED YELLOW LIGHT DURATION WHEREVER RED LIGHT CAMERAS ARE USED. ARNOLD SAYS TRAFFIC EXPERTS FEEL LONGER CAUTION LIGHTS REDUCE CRASHES.

KENNER POLICE SAY A WOMAN WHOSE BABY WAS ABANDONED BY A SHOPLIFTER LIED ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF THE SUSPECT. LT. WAYNE MCINNIS SAYS THE WOMAN WILL BE BOOKED WITH OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE, MAKING A FALSE STATEMENT AND FILING A FALSE POLICE REPORT. POLICE SAY THE WOMAN IDENTIFIED AN ONLINE ACQUAINTANCE AS THE BABY SITTER WHO LEFT THE INFANT IN A MALL PARKING LOT SATURDAY. LATER MONDAY, SHE RECANTED. ACCORDING TO POLICE, SHE NOW SAYS IT WAS HER SISTER-IN-LAW AND SHE DIDN'T WANT TO GET HER IN TROUBLE. POLICE SAY THE WOMAN WHO ABANDONED THE BABY ALSO IS ACCUSED OF SHOPLIFTING AND USING A STUN GUN ON A SECURITY GUARD.
MCINNIS SAYS CHILD WELFARE WORKERS TOOK THE BABY BECAUSE THE MOTHER SAID SHE COULDN'T SAY WHO WAS BABYSITTING.

THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT HAS STRUCK DOWN ANOTHER ATTEMPT BY THE STATE'S PROPERTY INSURER OF LAST RESORT TO AVOID PAYING MORE THAN $100 MILLION FOR LATE ADJUSTMENT OF HURRICANE DAMAGE CLAIMS IN 2005. MONDAY'S ACTION REVERSED A STATE APPEALS COURT ORDER THAT HAD BLOCKED THE BANKER FOR LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORP. FROM REVEALING WHERE IT IS HOLDING THE COMPANY'S MONEY. CITIZENS IS PURSUING A POSSIBLE U.S. SUPREME COURT APPEAL. THE INSURER CLAIMS THAT $6 MILLION IT PUT UP FOR AN APPEAL BOND SHOULD COVER A FEDERAL APPEAL. BUT THE STATE'S HIGH COURT SAID THAT MONEY ONLY COVERED STATE APPEALS AND CITIZENS HAS LOST THAT CASE WITH NO MORE STATE APPEALS REMAINING. ABOUT 18,500 POLICYHOLDERS WON $92.8 MILLION IN A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT ALLEGING THAT CITIZENS DID NOT START TO ADJUST CLAIMS FOR HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA WITHIN THE 30 DAYS REQUIRED BY STATE LAW. SINCE THE ORIGINAL DECISION, THE BILL HAS GROWN TO ABOUT $105 MILLION WITH JUDICIAL INTEREST.

A FORMER CLAIBORNE PARISH CHURCH CAMP DIRECTOR HAS PLEADED GUILTY TO USING THE INTERNET TO SEND OBSCENE PHOTOGRAPHS OF HIMSELF TO AN UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER POSING AS A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL. PROSECUTORS SAY 45-YEAR-OLD MICHAEL P. LATHAM WORKED AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE HARRIS BAPTIST RETREAT AND CONFERENCE CENTER NORTHEAST OF MINDEN AT THE TIME OF THE CRIME.


News For Monday 04/09/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 040912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

CENTRAL LOUISIANA OFFICIALS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN COTTONPORT SAY THEY WILL FIGHT LEGISLATION CALLING FOR SELLING THE PRISON TO A PRIVATE OPERATOR. IT IS EXPECTED THAT THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE WOULD DEBATE HOUSE BILL 850 BY REP. HENRY BURNS, R-HAUGHTON, TUESDAY MORNING. THE HEARING WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 16TH & 17TH. REP. ROBERT JOHNSON, D-MARKSVILLE, SAID HE WAS SURPRISED BY A TELEPHONE CALL FROM A GOVERNOR'S OFFICE STAFF MEMBER TELLING HIM THE DATE HAD BEEN MOVED UP. TUESDAY IS A SCHEDULED TRAINING DAY," HE SAID. "THE TWO SHIFTS THAT WOULD BE OFF ARE HAVING TRAINING DAY," SO GUARDS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PERFORM THEIR MANDATORY 40 TRAINING HOURS WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO COME TO THE CAPITOL TO PROTEST THE SALE. JOHNSON SAYS HE MEET WITH THE GOVERNOR IN DECEMBER AND WAS TOLD THE SALE OF THE PRISON WAS NOT ON THE TABLE. THEN THE BUDGET CAME OUT AND THERE IT WAS.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS REPORTING THAT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC MIGHT BUILD A $10 BILLION PLANT IN THE STATE THAT WOULD MAKE DIESEL FUEL OUT OF NATURAL GAS. LSU ECONOMIST DR. LOREN SCOTT SAYS IT MAKES SENSE BECAUSE LOUISIANA IS THE NUMBER THREE PRODUCER OF NATURAL GAS IN THE UNITED STATES. HE ALSO SAYS ANOTHER ENERGY COMPANY IS CONSIDERING A SIMILAR PLANT IN LOUISIANA. SCOTT SAYS SASOL IS ALSO CONSIDERING BUILDING A GAS-TO-LIQUIDS PLANT IN THE LAKE CHARLES AREA. HE SAYS IF BOTH FACILITIES DECIDE TO BUILD HERE, IT WOULD BE A MAJOR BOOST TO LOUISIANA'S ECONOMY.

A JOB FAIR IS SET FOR TUESDAY FOR THE COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT, WHICH SAYS IT NEEDS EMPLOYEES FOR ITS NEW CASINO-HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KINDER AND OTHER CORPORATE POSITIONS. THE EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE FROM 8 A.M.-2 P.M. AT THE NORTHWEST COMMUNITY CENTER IN EUNICE. IT'S CO-SPONSORED BY THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION. APPLICANTS MUST BE AT LEAST 18 AND BRING A VALID DRIVER LICENSE.

THE STATE'S EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT SAYS WORK WILL BEGIN IMMEDIATELY TO IMPLEMENT EDUCATION REFORMS PASSED LAST WEEK BY THE LEGISLATURE. THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTED TO SIGN THE MEASURES INTO LAW THIS WEEK. SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WHITE SAYS FIRST UP IS SETTING UP THE PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOL VOUCHERS PROGRAM. WHITE SAYS, ONCE GOVERNOR JINDAL SIGNS THE SCHOOL CHOICE ACT INTO LAW, HE AND HIS TEAM WILL BEGIN IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM AND AN APPLICATION PROCESS FOR PARENTS. WHITE SAYS "SCHOLARSHIPS" FOR KIDS IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE FALL 2012 SCHOOL YEAR. WHITE SAYS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICIALS AND BESE WILL START LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR THE NEW LAW OVERHAULING TEACHER TENURE AND ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEWS AS WELL.

A STATE TEACHERS UNION IS PROMISING A LEGAL CHALLENGE OF THE JUST-PASSED SCHOOL CHOICE ACT, WHICH PROVIDES PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION VOUCHERS FOR KIDS IN FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS. LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT STEVE MONAGHAN THE FUNDING FOR THOSE VOUCHERS IS AT QUESTION. MONAGHAN SAYS LANGUAGE OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION SUGGESTS THAT FUNDS FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA, THE SO-CALLED MINIMUM FOUNDATION PROGRAM (MFP), SHALL GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE STATE'S DISTRICTS. HE SAYS USING PART OF THOSE FUNDS TO PAY PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL TUITIONS GOES AGAINST THAT.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS ONE MAJOR VICTORY IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, WITH THE PASSAGE OF HIS EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE. NOW THE GOVERNOR AND HIS STAFF WILL PUT THEIR EFFORTS TOWARDS MAKING CHANGES TO THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR STATE WORKERS. JINDAL SAYS ITS NECESSARY, BECAUSE THE STATE NEEDS TO ADDRESS AN 18-BILLION DOLLAR RETIREMENT DEBT. MANY STATE WORKERS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE JINDAL'S PROPOSALS OF PAYING MORE TOWARDS THEIR PENSION AND RAISING THE RETIREMENT AGE. JINDAL SAYS HE'S TRYING TO PASS SOMETHING THAT'S FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TAXPAYER AND THE STATE WORKER. INITIALLY THE GOVERNOR HIMSELF AND HIS OFFICE WAS EXCLUDED FROM THE RETIREMENT CHANGES. SINCE THEN HIS STAFF HAS ISSUED STATEMENT THAT THEY WOULD AMEND THE BILL TO INCLUDE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. JINDAL SAYS HE'S OPEN TO CHANGES TO THE RETIREMENT MEASURES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN FILED.

GOVERNOR JINDAL'S NAME IS ONCE AGAIN BEING FLOATED AS A POTENTIAL VICE- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN SAYS LIKELY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY SHOULD CONSIDER JINDAL AND A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE SAYS JINDAL WOULD BE A GOOD CHOICE. JINDAL HAS SAID SINCE HE WAS ELECTED GOVERNOR THAT HE HAS THE JOB THAT HE WANTS. BUT MOST INSIDERS SAY IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR THE GOVERNOR TO PASS UP A VP GIG. FOUR YEARS AGO, JINDAL WAS CONSIDERED A RUNNING MATE FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN MCCAIN. BUT JINDAL'S RISING STAR STATUS TOOK A HIT WHEN HE GAVE WIDELY PANNED SPEECH AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS IN 2009.

A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE VOTERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DECIDE IF THEY WANT TO IMPOSE TERM LIMITS ON SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS CLEARED THE STATE HOUSE LAST WEEK. PONCHATOULA REPRESENTATIVE STEVE PUGH'S LEGISLATION HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR MORE DISCUSSION. PUGH SAYS TERM LIMITS WOULD ALLOW FOR NEW IDEAS AND PEOPLE TO DETERMINE IMPORTANT EDUCATION POLICY. IF PUGH'S BILL BECOMES LAW, VOTERS WILL DECIDE ON THE NOVEMBER SIXTH BALLOT, IF THEY WANT TERM LIMITS FOR THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WANTS TO END 24-HOUR OPERATION OF THE OUACHITA RIVER'S FOUR LOCKS THIS SUMMER. SHIPPERS AND OTHERS SEE IT AS THE FIRST STEP IN ABANDONING A NAVIGATION PROJECT DATING TO THE 1920S. THE CORPS' PROPOSAL WOULD CUT OPERATING HOURS TO 18 HOURS A DAY AT TWO LOUISIANA LOCKS AND TO 16 HOURS AT TWO IN ARKANSAS.

NEW REGULATIONS THAT COULD PASS AS EARLY AS MAY WOULD ALLOW FOR YEAR-ROUND NIGHT HUNTING AND TRAPPING OF FERAL HOGS. THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES HAS AN EIGHT-MONTH SEASON ON FERAL HOGS. BUT WILDLIFE AGENTS HAVEN'T BEEN TICKETING ANYONE FOR TRAPPING FERAL HOGS OUT OF SEASON. WHEN HOGS ROOT UP THE GROUND FOR FOOD, IT CAN COST LOUISIANA WETLANDS HABITAT AND COST FARMERS THEIR CROPS. ONE HOG CAN HAVE AS MANY AS THREE LITTERS OF SIX TO EIGHT PIGLETS A YEAR. BIOLOGISTS SAY THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN MADE WORSE WHERE PEOPLE BROUGHT HOGS ONTO THEIR PROPERTY FOR SPORT.

SPORTS..

LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER HIS TEAM LOST IN THE OPENING ROUND OF THE NIT LAST MONTH, TRENT JOHNSON SAT BEHIND A TABLE IN THE PETE MARAVICH ASSEMBLY CENTER, DISCUSSING HIS FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON AS THE LSU MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH. AT ONE POINT, HE SPOKE OF THE TIGERS’ FUTURE. “I DON’T LIKE WHAT WE HAVE COMING BACK,” JOHNSON SAID. “I LOVE WHAT WE HAVE COMING BACK.” AS IT TURNS OUT, JOHNSON HIMSELF WON’T BE AROUND TO SEE IT. LSU ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA CONFIRMED SUNDAY THAT JOHNSON RESIGNED AFTER A FOUR-YEAR STAY LOADED WITH UPS AND DOWNS — INCLUDING ONE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE TITLE AND AN NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE, TWO UGLY LAST-PLACE FINISHES, A HANDFUL OF MISSED RECRUITS AND A BOUNCE-BACK YEAR THAT ENDED WITH A FLAMEOUT IN THE NIT. ACCORDING TO MULTIPLE REPORTS, JOHNSON WILL TAKE OVER AT TCU.

News For Thursday 04/05/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 040512
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NOBODY WON THE TWO MAJOR JACKPOTS IN THE LOUISIANA LOTTO AND MULTISTATE POWERBALL DRAWINGS ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE LOTTO WILL RISE TO AN ESTIMATED $450,000 MILLION FOR SATURDAY’S DRAWING. THE POWERBALL PRIZE WILL GO UP TO $80 MILLION.

FORMER PINEVILLE ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF F.A. "JR." STALTER DIED WEDNESDAY AT HIS HOME IN PINEVILLE. STALTER WAS A 28-YEAR VETERAN OF THE PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND RETIRED AS ASSISTANT CHIEF IN 1997. AFTER LEAVING PINEVILLE POLICE, STALTER SERVED SEVERAL YEARS IN MISDEMEANOR PROBATIONS SERVICES FOR GRANT, LASALLE AND WINN PARISHES. WHILE IN COLLEGE, STALTER BEGAN HIS CAREER WITH PINEVILLE POLICE AS A DISPATCHER. MEMORIAL SERVICES ARE SET FOR 2 P.M. FRIDAY AT HIXSON BROTHERS IN PINEVILLE. FRIENDS MAY CALL FROM 10 A.M. UNTIL TIME OF SERVICES FRIDAY IN THE FUNERAL HOME. STALTER WAS 61

CHANGES TO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER TENURE LAWS ARE A STEP CLOSER TO FINAL LEGISLATIVE PASSAGE. THE FULL SENATE HAS APPROVED A BILL MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR TEACHERS TO ATTAIN TENURE, AND EASIER TO FIRE POOR PERFORMING TEACHERS. THE BILL ALSO LIMITS A SCHOOL BOARDS' AUTHORITY WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING AND FIRING EDUCATORS. THE BILL PASSED 23-16, BUT GOES BACK TO THE HOUSE FOR APPROVAL OF TWO SMALL SENATE AMENDMENTS.

LEGISLATION TO GIVE PARENTS OF KIDS IN POOR-PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS VOUCHERS TO ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS MOVES CLOSER TO FINAL PASSAGE. THE
SENATE APPROVED THE MEASURE AFTER HOURS OF DEBATE LAST NIGHT. THE BILL WOULD OFFER VOUCHERS TO FAMILIES WITH INCOMES AT UP TO 250% OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL, WITH KIDS IN SCHOOLS RATED "D" OR "F". THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE BILL WILL HELP KIDS "ESCAPE FAILING PUBLIC SCHOOLS". THE BILL WILL MAKE ABOUT 380-THOUSAND KIDS ELIGIBLE FOR VOUCHERS, WHEN THE STATE'S PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS ONLY HAVE ROOM FOR ABOUT 1000. THE MEASURE PASSED, WITH SOME MINOR AMENDMENTS. IT GOES BACK TO THE HOUSE FOR CONCURRENCE ON THOSE CHANGES.

THE LOUISIANA HOUSE REJECTED AN ATTEMPT TO PUT TERM LIMITS ON ALL STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS, BUT AGREED WEDNESDAY TO ASK VOTERS IN EACH PARISH IF THEY WANT TO ENACT TERM LIMITS ON THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS. REP. SIMONE CHAMPAGNE'S PROPOSAL TO LIMIT STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS TO THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS FAILED IN A 49-49 VOTE. BECAUSE IT WAS A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, IT WOULD NEED TWO-THIRDS SUPPORT, OR 70 VOTES, TO PASS THE HOUSE. THE BILL WOULD HAVE APPLIED TO THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, SECRETARY OF STATE AND TREASURER.

REP. STEVE PUGH'S PROPOSAL TO CALL FOR LOCAL OPTION VOTES ON SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS FACED A LOWER HURDLE TO PASSAGE. THE HOUSE SENT THE BILL TO THE SENATE WITH A 60-36 VOTE. THE QUESTION WOULD APPEAR 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.

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IS CLOSE TO SETTLING ON AN ENGINEERING FIRM TO DESIGN THE ADDITIONS AND UPGRADES NEEDED AT THE D.G. HUNTER POWER PLANT. THE PROCESS STARTED IN AUGUST 2009 WHEN CITY OFFICIALS SENT OUT A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR PLANS TO UPGRADE THE PLANT. CITY OFFICIALS WERE LOOKING FOR A PLAN TO UPGRADE THE OTHER TWO UNITS AS WELL AS PURCHASE AN OFF-SITE TURBINE, WHICH WAS EXPECTED TO COST BETWEEN $60 MILLION AND $120 MILLION. CURRENTLY ONLY TWO OF THE FOUR GENERATING UNITS ARE OPERATIONAL. HOWEVER, THAT HAS NOT BEEN A MAJOR ISSUE DUE TO THE FACT THE PLANT IS SELDOM USED.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS ADVANCED A NEW VERSION OF BILL TO CURTAIL THE INTERNET ACTIVITIES OF CERTAIN CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS. BILL SPONSOR REP. LEDRICKA THEIRRY, OF OPELOUSAS, SAYS HER BILL IS SPECIFIC AS TO WHAT WEBSITES SEX OFFENDERS WOULD BE BARRED FROM. THE BILL IS AIMED AT SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES LIKE FACEBOOK. THEIRRY SAYS KIDS USE THESE SITES AND SHOULD BE PROTECTED.

A BILL STRENGTHENING THE LOUISIANA SMOKE FREE AIR ACT HAS PASSED A HOUSE HEALTH COMMITTEE THE BILL REQUIRES SMOKERS STAY AT LEAST 25 FEET AWAY FROM THE DOORS OR WINDOWS OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS. SMOKERS MUST ALSO AVOID WHEELCHAIR RAMPS AND INTAKES FOR HEATING AND AC SYSTEMS.

THE COLORADO STATE FORECAST TEAM IS PREDICTING A QUIET HURRICANE SEASON WITH AS FEW AS 10 NAMED STORMS. TEAM MEMBER PHIL KLOTZBACH SAYS EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE PREDICTING A QUIET SEASON, THERE'S STILL A 24-PERCENT CHANCE THAT A MAJOR HURRICANE WILL MAKE LANDFALL ON THE GULF COAST.

WELFARE RECIPIENTS WOULD BE PROHIBITED FROM SPENDING THAT MONEY ON LIQUOR, GAMBLING OR "SEXUALLY ORIENTED BUSINESSES," UNDER A PROPOSAL HEADED TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR DEBATE AFTER RECEIVING APPROVAL FROM THE HOUSE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE WEDNESDAY. REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, SAID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS MANDATED THAT STATES BAN SUCH SPENDING OF WELFARE MONEY. U.S. REP. CHARLES BOUSTANY, A REPUBLICAN WHO TESTIFIED IN SUPPORT OF HENRY'S BILL, SAID THE STATE RISKS LOSING FEDERAL FUNDS WITHOUT A PROHIBITION. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 14-3 FOR THE PROPOSAL, SENDING IT TO THE FULL HOUSE. THE MEASURE ALSO WOULD BAN WELFARE RECIPIENTS FROM WITHDRAWING THEIR MONEY AS CASH FROM THE ELECTRONIC BENEFITS CARD ISSUED TO THEM, WHICH FUNCTIONS LIKE A DEBIT CARD.

A CALL ON CONGRESS TO STOP FUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD BEGAN ADVANCING WEDNESDAY IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE. REP. FRANK HOFFMANN SAID HE SPONSORED THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 11) BECAUSE HE WANTS PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO STOP RECEIVING TAX DOLLARS UNTIL THEY STOP PROVIDING ABORTIONS, EVEN THOUGH, AS THE LAWMAKER POINTED OUT, THE TAX DOLLARS AREN'T USED FOR THE PROCEDURE. THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE WITHOUT OBJECTION, OVER THE OPPOSITION OF SEVERAL MEDICAL ORGANIZATIONS. A SIMILAR PROPOSAL FAILED TO WIN FINAL PASSAGE LAST YEAR.

A STATE SENATOR'S PUSH TO REQUIRE PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO FILE WITH THE ETHICS BOARD INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIPS THEY DOLE OUT TO UNIVERSITIES FAILED TO GAIN TRACTION IN THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. SEN. DAN CLAITOR, R-BATON ROUGE, PROPOSED THAT PUBLIC OFFICIALS REPORT THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF ANY RECIPIENT TO WHOM THEY AWARD FREE TUITION TO COLLEGE. THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 129) SPELLS OUT THAT WOULD INCLUDE THE LEGISLATIVE SCHOLARSHIPS TO TULANE.
THE TULANE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM DATES BACK TO THE 1880S. IT WAS HEAVILY CRITICIZED A DECADE AGO WHEN IT WAS DISCLOSED THAT LAWMAKERS HAD GIVEN OUT AWARDS TO CHILDREN OF OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS, DONORS AND THEIR OWN FAMILY. THE COMMITTEE SHELVED THE BILL WITHOUT OBJECTION.
A NEW CRIME WOULD BE CREATED IN LOUISIANA, OUTLAWING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, IF LAWMAKERS AGREE TO A BILL (HOUSE BILL 759) THAT RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE. SUPPORTERS OF THE BAN SAID THE CONTROVERSIAL PRACTICE, WHICH USUALLY INVOLVES THE REMOVAL OF THE CLITORIS, IS OUTLAWED IN 16 OTHER STATES. THE PROPOSAL BY REP. NANCY LANDRY, R-LAFAYETTE, HEADS TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE. THE CRIME WOULD CARRY A PRISON SENTENCE OF UP TO 15 YEARS.

LOUISIANA'S BOARD OF ETHICS, WHICH LOST SOME OF ITS POWER UNDER A 2008 LAW, WOULD HAVE ITS ROLE STRENGTHENED A BIT UNDER A MEASURE APPROVED WEDNESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BOARD STILL INVESTIGATES ALLEGATIONS OF ETHICS CODE VIOLATIONS BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS. BUT UNDER LEGISLATION THAT WAS PART OF THE ETHICS LAW OVERHAUL PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, A NEW BOARD OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES WAS ESTABLISHED TO DECIDE WHETHER A PUBLIC OFFICIAL ACTUALLY VIOLATED THE CODE. THE BILL APPROVED WEDNESDAY FOR FULL HOUSE DEBATE ALLOWS THE BOARD OF ETHICS TO APPEAL DECISIONS BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES IF IT DISAGREES WITH THEM. IT'S A CHANGE THAT THE INDEPENDENT PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL OF LOUISIANA HAS CALLED FOR AFTER AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2008 CHANGES.

A JULY 16 TRIAL DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR AN ALLEN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ACCUSED OF STEALING MORE THAN $2,100 FROM AN AREA CASINO WHERE HE WORKED.
46 YEAR OLD KEITH WELCH OF OAKDALE PLEADED NOT GUILTY LAST APRIL. HE WAS ARRESTED ON FOUR COUNTS OF FELONY THEFT AND TWO COUNTS OF MISDEMEANOR THEFT IN SEPTEMBER 2010. WELCH ALLEGEDLY TOOK MONEY FROM SEVERAL MACHINES OVER A 10-DAY PERIOD WHILE EMPLOYED AS A KIOSK DROP TEAM MANAGER AT COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT IN KINDER.

FIVE EX-NEW ORLEANS COPS HAVE BEEN SENTENCED FOR THEIR ROLES IN THE SHOOTINGS OF UNARMED MEN IN THE CHAOTIC DAYS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE ENSUING COVER-UP. THE SENTENCES RANGED FROM 65 YEARS FOR ONE OF THE CONVICTED SHOOTERS, TO 6 YEARS FOR A CONSPIRATOR IN THE COVER-UP.

News For Wednesday 04/04/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 040412
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THOUSANDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS ARE EXPECTED TO RALLY AT THE STATE CAPITOL TODAY AGAINST THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION REFORMS LEGISLATION, AS THE TWO BILLS GO TO THE SENATE FOR FINAL VOTE. LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS PRESIDENT JOYCE HAYNES SAYS IT'S HOPED THE PLANNED PROTEST OUTSIDE WILL BE HEARD ON THE SENATE FLOOR. THE BILLS HAVE PASSED THE HOUSE AND TWO SENATE COMMITTEES, AND ARE UP FOR FINAL DEBATE TODAY IN THE SENATE.

RAPIDES PARISH RANKS 24TH BEST OUT OF LOUISIANA'S 64 PARISHES IN A NATIONAL HEALTH REPORT RELEASED THIS WEEK THAT MEASURES HOW MANY DIE BEFORE AGE 75 AND HOW GOOD PEOPLE FEEL. IN ITS THIRD ANNUAL REPORT, COUNTY HEALTH RANKINGS ALSO CLAIMED RAPIDES RANKED 18TH BEST IN THE STATE WHEN IT COMES TO STAYING AWAY FROM BAD BEHAVIORS SUCH AS SMOKING AND OVEREATING, 27TH IN THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FACTORS THAT ARE DIRECTLY TIED TO HEALTH, AND 5TH IN ACCESS TO DOCTORS AND PREVENTATIVE SCREENINGS. BUT THE RANKINGS SHOW RAPIDES HAS A VIOLENT CRIME RATE THAT TOWERS ABOVE THE AVERAGE IN LOUISIANA, ALREADY ONE OF THE MOST VIOLENT STATES IN THE COUNTRY

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL ON TUESDAY INCREASED UTILITIES RATES TO HELP PAY FOR FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY AND UTILITIES DIRECTOR MICHAEL MARCOTTE EACH SAID THE RATE INCREASES STILL WON'T GENERATE ENOUGH REVENUE THAT IS NEEDED TO PREPARE FOR FUTURE INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES. THE COUNCIL ALREADY HAS APPROVED $750,000 TO REPLACE A UTILITY TRANSFORMER, WITH A $2.2 MILLION EXPENDITURE FORTHCOMING AND EIGHT ADDITIONAL TRANSFORMERS TO REPLACE. ROY SAID IF THE COUNCIL DIDN'T PASS THE RATE INCREASES, IT WOULD LEAVE A $2 MILLION HOLE IN THE UTILITY FUND. THAT LIKELY WOULD MEAN $2 MILLION LESS THAT COULD BE TRANSFERRED TO THE GENERAL FUND, HE SAID, PUTTING KEY INITIATIVES SUCH AS THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO AND ATRANS BUS SERVICE IN PERIL.

THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT HAS RULED IN FAVOR OF LOUISIANA COLLEGE TO CONTINUE IT'S FAITH-BASED TEACHINGS AFTER FOUR FORMER PROFESSORS "SUED TO GAIN CONTROL OF HOW RELIGION WOULD BE TAUGHT. A LAWSUIT WAS FILED IN 2005 INWHICH THE FOUR PROFESSORS SUED THE COLLEGE ALLEGING LOSS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS.

STORMS THAT BROUGHT TORNADOES TO TEXAS ARE MOVING ACROSS LOUISIANA BRINGING HEAVY RAIN AND STRONG GUSTY WINDS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE REPORTS HIGH WINDS AND DOWNED TREES AND POWER LINES ACROSS THE NORTHERN PART OF LOUISIANA LATE TUESDAY AND EARLY WEDNESDAY. GOLF BALL SIZE HAIL WAS REPORTED IN SEVERAL PARISHES. IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE STATE, HEAVY RAIN CAUSED STREET FLOODING AND POWER OUTAGES. RAINFALL AMOUNTS SINCE MIDNIGHT RANGE FROM 1 TO 2 INCHES IN MANY LOCATIONS.

THE STATE'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHIEF WOULD BE ABLE TO OFFER A PACKAGE OF NEW TAX BREAKS TO BUSINESSES THAT ARE CONSIDERING WHETHER TO RELOCATE OR EXPAND IN LOUISIANA, UNDER A PROPOSAL OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVED TUESDAY BY THE HOUSE. THE BILLS 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 KEEP. THE LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE ESTIMATES THE STATE COULD LOSE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX INCOME BECAUSE OF THE PROPOSALS. BUT BILL SPONSOR REP. JOEL ROBIDEAUX, R-LAFAYETTE, SAID THE CUTS WOULD ONLY BE GIVEN TO COMPANIES THAT SHOW THEY WILL GENERATE MORE TAX DOLLARS FOR LOUISIANA THAN THE BREAKS WILL COST THE STATE IN LOST REVENUE. THE PROPOSALS HEAD TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON, GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS AND ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT ARE SET TO HAVE THEIR NFL APPEALS HEARD THURSDAY REGARDING THE PUNISHMENT THEY'VE RECEIVED FOR THEIR ROLES IN NEW ORLEANS' BOUNTY SYSTEM.
LEAGUE SPOKESMAN GREG AIELLO CONFIRMED THE HEARING SCHEDULE IN AN EMAIL TO
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON, ABOUT TWO HOURS AFTER PAYTON'S AGENT, DON YEE, SAID THE COACH AND NFL WERE "TRYING TO SCHEDULE A MUTUALLY CONVENIENT TIME FOR THE PROCEEDINGS" THAT WOULD NOT INTERFERE WITH PEOPLE'S PLANS FOR THE UPCOMING RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS. AIELLO ALSO SAID FORMER SAINTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREGG WILLIAMS, WHO HAS SINCE TAKEN A JOB AS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR WITH THE ST. LOUIS RAMS, DID NOT APPEAL HIS INDEFINITE SUSPENSION.

SO MUCH FOR PUTTING A STOP TO THOSE POLITICAL ROBO CALLS. A JEFFERSON PARISH LAWMAKER'S BID TO RESTRICT TELEPHONE CALLS FROM POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS TO HOMES AND BUSINESSES THAT SIGN UP FOR LOUISIANA'S "DO NOT CALL" LIST WAS REJECTED TUESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE. REP. ERICH PONTI, OF BATON ROUGE, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE, OPPOSED THE MEASURE, SAYING IT WOULD RAISE FREEDOM OF SPEECH CONCERNS AND COULD LEAD TO A RASH OF LITIGATION THAT WOULD BE EXPENSIVE FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE AND THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO DEFEND. THE HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE VOTED 11-6 AGAINST THE BILL, REFUSING TO FORWARD IT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A SENATE JUDICIARY PANEL HAS SUPPORTED A REWRITING OF LOUISIANA'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, DESPITE CONCERNS IT COULD NULLIFY MOST GUN RESTRICTIONS IN THE STATE AND COULD OPEN THE DOOR TO ALLOW GUNS IN SCHOOLS, BARS AND CHURCHES. THE PROPOSAL SPONSORED BY REPUBLICAN SEN. NEIL RISER AND PUSHED BY THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE OVER THE OPPOSITION OF THE STATE'S DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, CHIEFS OF POLICE AND HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS. RISER DESCRIBED THE BILL AS AN ATTEMPT TO ENSURE THE STATE HAS STRONG PROTECTIONS FOR GUN OWNERS IF FEDERAL COURTS OVERTURN CURRENT U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS. OPPONENTS SAY THE MEASURE WOULD GO FURTHER AND COULD LEAVE LAWMAKERS UNABLE TO ENACT GUN-FREE ZONES.

THE HOUSE VOTED 63-26 FOR A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD REQUIRE POLICE TO NOTIFY MOTORISTS BEFORE SETTING UP CHECKPOINTS TO EXAMINE VEHICLE INSPECTION STICKERS, LIKE THE EXISTING REQUIREMENTS FOR CHECKPOINTS ON SEAT BELT AND AUTO INSURANCE. THE MEASURE (HOUSE BILL 713) BY REP. MARCUS HUNTER, D-MONROE, HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS WOULD BE BANNED FROM DRIVING TOW TRUCKS IN LOUISIANA, UNDER A BILL (HOUSE BILL 839) BACKED IN A 94-0 VOTE BY THE HOUSE. REP. CAMERON HENRY, R-METAIRIE, SAID THE PROHIBITION WAS SOUGHT BY THE LOUISIANA STATE POLICE. HIS BILL WOULD PROHIBIT THE ISSUANCE OF A TOW TRUCK LICENSE PLATE TO ANYONE CONVICTED OF A FELONY RELATED TO VEHICLE THEFT OR TO ANYONE REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER. THE PROPOSAL HEADS TO THE SENATE.

THE FULL SENATE WILL CONSIDER A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW FIRE DEPARTMENTS TO SPEND TAXPAYERS' MONEY TO FEED THEIR MEMBERS IN TIMES OF EMERGENCIES AND TO OFFER REWARDS FOR "OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT," LEGALIZING PRACTICES THAT HAVE BEEN QUESTIONED IN AUDITS OF CITY, PARISH AND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS. THE PROPOSAL (SENATE BILL 98) BY SEN. J.P. MORRELL, D-NEW ORLEANS, WOULD PUT LIMITS ON THE SIZE OF THE AWARDS AND MEALS.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT CRUDE OIL PRICES ARE SEEMINGLY STABILIZING, GASOLINE PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE. LOUISIANA AAA FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THAT'S CAUSING US TO DRIVE LESS, AND MANY ARE TRADING IN THEIR SUVS FOR FUEL-EFFICIENT VEHICLES. HE SAYS DON'T LOOK FOR PRICES TO FALL SIGNIFICANTLY ANYTIME SOON

THE CADDO PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A SCHOOL BUS DRIVER WAS BOOKED WITH DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED AFTER HER BUS SPUN OFF THE ROAD AND FLIPPED ONTO ITS SIDE, INJURING FOUR CHILDREN ON BOARD. INVESTIGATORS DON'T THINK THE DRIVER WAS DRUNK, BUT SUSPECT THAT SHE MAY HAVE TAKEN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

A FEDERAL JUDGE REFUSED TUESDAY TO ACQUIT OR ORDER A NEW TRIAL FOR A NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER CONVICTED OF LYING ABOUT THE AFTERMATH OF A DEADLY SHOOTING OUTSIDE THE CITY'S CONVENTION CENTER FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE SARAH VANCE'S RULING SAYS A RATIONAL, REASONABLE JURY COULD FIND THAT OFFICER RONALD MITCHELL'S FALSE STATEMENTS AMOUNTED TO PERJURY AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. VANCE IS SCHEDULED TO SENTENCE MITCHELL ON APRIL 11.

ACADIANA CRAWFISH FARMERS SAY THE RECENT RAINS HAVE COME JUST IN TIME TO HELP SALVAGE THEIR SEASON. HEAVY RAINS HAVE WASHED INTRUDING SALTWATER OUT OF CRAWFISH PONDS, LETTING THE MUDBUGS THRIVE AND GROW. SALES ARE ALREADY STARTING TO REBOUND.


News For Tuesday 04/03/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 040312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE GILLIS LONG OR JACKSON STREET BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA WITH PINEVILLE IS CLOSE DUE TO MECHANICAL PROBLEMS. THE BRIDGE WAS CLOSED TO TRAFFIC YESTERDAY AFTERNOON. ALL OFFICIALS WILL SAY AT THIS POINT IS THAT THE BRIDGE SHOULD REOPEN SOMETIME TODAY.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S CENTERPIECE EDUCATION BILLS FOR THE SESSION ARE ON TRACK FOR A FULL SENATE DEBATE WEDNESDAY, WHERE PASSAGE COULD GET THE PROPOSALS TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK LATER THIS WEEK. THE COMPLEX MEASURES TO CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT USES TAX DOLLARS TO PAY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION, TO EXPAND CHARTER SCHOOLS IN LOUISIANA AND TO REVAMP TEACHER PAY AND JOB PROTECTIONS HAVE BEEN MOVING AT A SPEEDY CLIP THROUGH THE SESSION, WHICH STARTED THREE WEEKS AGO. THE VOUCHER BILL RECEIVED APPROVAL IN THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE WITH A 9-2 VOTE MONDAY. IT WAS THE FINAL STEP NEEDED BEFORE AN EXPECTED SENATE FLOOR DEBATE WEDNESDAY.

THE NFL PLAYERS UNION HAS REPORTEDLY HIRED LAWYERS FOR THE PLAYERS INVOLVED IN THE SAINTS BOUNTY PROGRAM, BECAUSE THERE'S A POSSIBILITY THEY COULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES. THE NFL SAID THERE WERE 22 TO 27 DEFENSIVE PLAYERS INVOLVED IN THE PAY-FOR-PAIN BOUNTY POOL. BUT LEGAL ANALYST DOUG SUNSERI SAYS IT'S UNLIKELY A D-A WOULD BRING UP CRIMINAL CHARGES. MEANWHILE, COACH SEAN PAYTON AND GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS WILL BE IN NEW YORK THIS WEEK TO MEET WITH COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL AS THEY APPEAL THEIR SUSPENSIONS. SUNSERI SAYS ITS UNLIKELY GOODELL WILL REDUCE THEIR PUNISHMENTS.

ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY LP SAID MONDAY IT HAS FILED FOR PERMISSION FROM FEDERAL REGULATORS TO BUILD ITS PROPOSED NATURAL GAS EXPORT TERMINAL AT LAKE CHARLES.
DALLAS-BASED ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY SAID THAT IF THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION APPROVES, CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN IN 2014 WITH A TARGET DATE OF EXPORTING GAS IN THE SPRING OF 2018. LAST AUGUST, THE FEDERAL ENERGY DEPARTMENT GAVE THE COMPANY PERMISSION TO EXPORT UP TO 2 BILLION CUBIC FEET OF NATURAL GAS A DAY FOR 25 YEARS. ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY PLANS TO MODIFY A TERMINAL THAT OPENED IN 1981 TO HANDLE LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS IMPORTS SO IT CAN HANDLE EXPORTS. AT LEAST 10 EXPORT TERMINALS ARE IN VARIOUS STAGES OF PLANNING IN LOUISIANA, TEXAS, MARYLAND AND OREGON.

A CADDO PARISH HIGH SCHOOL HAD TO SEND STUDENTS HOME YESTERDAY, BECAUSE THE AIR CONDITIONING WAS DISABLED BY COPPER THIEVES. CADDO SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON CINDY CHADWICK SAYS OVER 1200 FT OF WIRE HAD BEEN CUT FROM THE AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM; LIKELY OVER SPRING BREAK LAST WEEK. SHE SAYS COPPER THEFTS ARE COMMON, BUT THE AMOUNT STOLEN FROM THE SCHOOL WAS SIGNIFICANT.

A FORMER PRIEST FROM DUSON IS FACING ADDITIONAL CHARGES FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A BOY. MARK BROUSSARD WAS FIRST ARRESTED ON MARCH 22ND ON RAPE AND BATTERY CHARGES RELATED TO AN 8-YEAR-OLD VICTIM YEARS AGO. CALCASIEU PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON KIM MYERS SAYS NEW CHARGES WERE FILED AS A RESULT OF A 2ND VICTIM COMING FORWARD. MYERS SAYS BROUSSARD HAS TOLD INVESTIGATORS HE HAD A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH FOUR BOYS. BROUSSARD RETIRED FROM THE PRIESTHOOD IN 1994.

LOUISIANA MOTORISTS WOULD BE ABLE TO GET THEIR VEHICLES INSPECTED EVERY TWO YEARS, INSTEAD OF EACH YEAR, IF LAWMAKERS BACK A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED THE SUPPORT MONDAY OF THE SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 610), WOULD TAKE EFFECT SEPT. 1. IN PARISHES WITH AUTO EMISSION PROBLEMS, LIKE THE BATON ROUGE AREA, ANNUAL INSPECTIONS STILL WOULD BE REQUIRED.
THE BILL HEADS TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE.

CASINOS WOULD BE PROHIBITED FROM ISSUING PLAYERS' CARDS THAT AUTOMATICALLY WITHDRAW FUNDS FROM A CREDIT, SAVINGS OR CHECKING ACCOUNT, UNDER A BILL THAT RECEIVED OVERWHELMING SUPPORT MONDAY FROM THE STATE HOUSE. REP. HUNTER GREENE, R-BATON ROUGE, SAID CASINOS IN LOUISIANA AREN'T USING SUCH CARDS NOW, BUT HE SAID THEY ARE USED IN LAS VEGAS. GREENE SAID HIS PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 146) WOULD "MAKE PEOPLE THINK FOR A MINUTE" BEFORE DRAINING THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS FOR GAMBLING. THEY WOULD STILL BE ABLE TO WITHDRAW CASH FROM ATM MACHINES AT THE CASINOS AND GET MONEY FROM THEIR ACCOUNTS THROUGH TELLERS. THE BILL HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE.

SOME HAVE GONE UNCLAIMED BY FAMILY MEMBERS FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. THERE'S AT LEAST ONE JOHN DOE. IN ALL, THE REMAINS OF 93 PEOPLE HAVE GONE UNCLAIMED IN LAFAYETTE PARISH IN THE PAST 20 YEARS. THOSE PEOPLE WILL RECEIVE A FUNERAL AT 10 A.M. APRIL 28 AT CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST. WHILE A CATHOLIC CHURCH AND AGENCY ORGANIZED THE SERVICE, OTHER MINISTERS OF FAITH HAVE BEEN INVITED TO BE A PART OF THE ECUMENICAL SERVICE TO RESPECT THE OTHER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE DEAD. A GRAVESIDE MILITARY SERVICE WILL HONOR THOSE VETERANS WHO WILL BE INTERRED. THE COMMUNITY HAS RESPONDED WITH DONATIONS TO HELP COVER THE COST OF ENGRAVING THE NAMES OF PEOPLE ON THE GRANITE DOORS OF A COLUMBARIUM CONSTRUCTED FOR THE SERVICE.

POLICE IN SULPHUR ARE INVESTIGATING A BANK ROBBERY YESTERDAY MORNING. OFFICERS SAYS AN UNARMED MAN DEMANDED CASH AND FLED THE CHASE BANK BRANCH ON FOOT. THEY HAVE A GOOD DESCRIPTION AND BANK SURVEILLANCE VIDEO.

A TEAM OF ENGINEERING STUDENTS AT LOUISIANA TECH HAS WON 1ST PLACE AWARDS IN SHELL OIL'S ECO-MARATHON COMPETITION. THE TECH TEAM'S CAR GETS OVER 600 MILES TO A GALLON OF GAS.







News For Monday 04/02/12


NEWS FOR MONDAY 040212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEARLY TWO YEARS, THE U-S DROUGHT MONITOR DOES NOT LIST ANY AREA IN LOUISIANA SUFFERING FROM DROUGHT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS YOU CAN THANK ABOVE-NORMAL PRECIPITATION FOR 2012. KEIM SAYS LA NINA WEATHER CONDITIONS HELPED PUT LOUISIANA IN DROUGHT CONDITIONS. HE SAYS THAT A LA NINA IS WEAKENING, WHICH MEANS THE STATE CAN EXPECT REGULAR RAINFALL. KEIM SAYS MARCH WAS ONE OF THE WETTEST MONTHS LOUISIANA HAS SEEN IN AWHILE.

A MAN CHARGED WITH TRYING TO KIDNAP A 2-MONTH-OLD BABY AT THE RAPIDES WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL HAS AN EXTENSIVE CRIMINAL RECORD AND MENTAL TROUBLES. AUTHORITIES ARRESTED 29 YEAR OLD ORLANDO JONES WEDNESDAY OF LAST WEEK AFTER HE WAS SEEN WALKING AROUND ON THE PEDIATRIC FLOOR OF THE RAPIDES WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL. POLICE SAY JONES TOLD A CHILD'S MOTHER THAT HE WAS THE ATTENDING PHYSICIAN AND THAT HE HAD TO REMOVE THE 2-MONTH-OLD FROM THE HOSPITAL ROOM. LUCKILY THE MOTHER SUSPECTED HE WASN'T A DOCTOR AND ALERTED THE NURSES' STATION. JONES WAS ARRESTED A SHORT TIME LATER.

INCASE YOU HAVE NOT HEARD, TWO RAPIDES PARISH BUSINESSMAN HAVE BOUGHT THE COWBOY TOWN AT RAPIDES STATION. THE FACILITY, WHICH WAS BUILT TO HOST RODEOS, CONCERTS AND OTHER EVENTS, HAS BEEN CLOSED SINCE SHORTLY AFTER IT’S OPENING BACK IN 2001. THE NEW OWNERS, JAMES GREER, THE OWNER OF D&J TIRES AND D&J CUSTOM HOMES AND DAN KYLE, THE OWNER OF KYLE'S COLLISION CENTER. PURCHASED THE FACILITY FOR $1.5 MILLION. IN ADDITION TO THE 200,000-SQUARE-FOOT BUILDING THE PURCHASE INCLUDES 27 ACRES OF LAND. GREER SAID, AS OF RIGHT NOW, HE AND KYLE DON'T HAVE DEFINITE PLANS FOR THE PROPERTY.

AN NFL SPOKESMAN SAYS THE LEAGUE EXPECTS TO HOLD HEARINGS THIS WEEK ON APPEALS FILED IN CONNECTION WITH THE INVESTIGATION OF THE SAINTS' BOUNTY SYSTEM.
WORD IS, THOUGH NOT OFFICIAL THAT HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON IS APPEALING HIS SEASON-LONG SUSPENSION. GENERAL MANAGER MICKEY LOOMIS IS APPEALING HIS EIGHT-GAME SUSPENSION, ASSISTANT HEAD COACH JOE VITT IS APPEALING HIS SIX-GAME SUSPENSION AND THE CLUB IS APPEALING ITS $500,000 FINE AND LOSS OF SECOND-ROUND DRAFT PICKS IN 2012 AND 2013. THE APPEALS WILL BE HEARD BY COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL IN NEW YORK. ESPN REPORTED SUNDAY PAYTON AND LOOMIS WOULD MEET WITH THE COMMISSIONER ON TUESDAY.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS SAYS "THOUSANDS" OF TEACHERS ARE EXPECTED TO PROTEST AT THE STATE CAPITOL ON APRIL 4TH -- THE DAY GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORMS HIT THE SENATE FLOOR. STEVE MONAGHAN SAYS THE PROTEST THAT DAY WILL BE THE VERY DEFINITION OF "HUGE". PROPOSED CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE LAWS ARE EXPECTED TO BE DEBATED ON THE SENATE FLOOR ON WEDNESDAY. A TUITION VOUCHER MEASURE GETS A HEARING IN SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE TODAY. BOTH BILLS HAVE ALREADY CLEARED THE HOUSE. MONAGHAN SAYS HE'S HEARD THAT EITHER ONE OR BOTH OF THESE BILLS WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE SENATE THE DAY OF THE PROTEST. MONAGHAN SAYS MANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE ON EASTER BREAK THIS WEEK, SO HE'S EXPECTED A CROWD OF BETWEEN 3,000 TO 5,000 TEACHERS.

LEGISLATORS ARE PROPOSING NEARLY DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF NEW “CHECKOFF” BOXES THIS YEAR FOR THE STATE’S INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX RETURNS. THE INCREASE IN DONATION OPTIONS FOR TAXPAYERS’ DOLLARS COMES AMID A MULTI-YEAR BUDGET CRUNCH THAT IS LIMITING STATE FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS. MOVING THROUGH THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE ARE PROPOSALS TO GIVE TAXPAYERS THE OPTION OF DONATING MONEY ON THEIR STATE TAX RETURNS TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS, FOOD STAMP FRAUD PREVENTION, UNITED WAY, A STATE PARK, DREAMS COME TRUE, AN AUTISM CENTER, WELFARE RECIPIENT DRUG TESTING AND HOSPICE EDUCATION. TAXPAYERS MAKE THE DONATIONS BY PUTTING DOLLAR AMOUNTS INTO CHECKOFF BOXES BESIDE AN ORGANIZATION’S NAME ON THEIR STATE TAX RETURNS.

THE FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL IN LAFAYETTE HAS WON THE TITLE OF BEST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL IN THE 2012 WORLD MUSIC READERS' CHOICE AWARDS ON ABOUT.COM. THE FIVE-DAY LONG FESTIVAL PULLED IN 48 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DANA BAKER SAYS THEY ARE THRILLED AT THE NEWS. SHE SAYS THIS YEAR'S FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL WILL KICK OFF ON APRIL 25TH AND THEY ARE ANTICIPATING MORE LARGE CROWDS. BAKER SAYS THEY AVERAGE A CROWD OF ABOUT 350,000 EACH YEAR.

THE STATE'S COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY RELEASES PHOTOS THAT SHOW BP OIL HAS RE-SURFACED IN AREAS ALONG THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THAT WERE DECLARED CLEAN BY THE COAST GUARD AND BP. AUTHORITY DIRECTOR GARRETT GRAVES SAYS UNFORTUNATELY THERE'S NO EFFORT TO RE-CLEAN THESE AREAS. THE TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE B-P RIG EXPLOSION IS NEXT MONTH AND GRAVES SAYS THERE'S BETWEEN 15 TO 20 MILES OF HEAVILY TO MODERATE OILED SHORELINE. HE SAYS TAR BALLS AND TAR MATS ARE STILL EMERGING. GRAVES SAYS THE STATE IS DOCUMENTING WHERE NEW OIL IS FOUND AND THEY ARE URGING B-P AND THE COAST GUARD TO SEND CLEAN-UP CREWS TO THOSE AREAS.

NOBODY WON THE TOP PRIZES IN POWERBALL, LOTTO OR EASY 5, SO THOSE JACKPOTS ALL ARE GOING UP. THE LOUISIANA LOTTERY CORP. SAYS ESTIMATED JACKPOTS FOR WEDNESDAY'S BIG-MONEY DRAWINGS ARE $70 MILLION FOR POWERBALL, $425,000 FOR LOTTO AND $100,000 FOR EASY 5.

A NEW TOBACCO USE POLICY GOES INTO EFFECT TODAY FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT MONROE CAMPUS. STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT BROOKE DUGAS SAYS NEARLY THE ENTIRE CAMPUS WILL BE SMOKE-FREE, EXCEPT FOR A VERY FEW AREAS. DUGAS SAYS THE IDEA WAS SPEARHEADED BY THE FACULTY SENATE WHO DRAFTED A PROPOSAL. SHE SAYS ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF U-L-M OPPOSE THE NEW POLICY.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY HAVE BECOME TARGETS OF RECALL EFFORTS AS A RESULT OF JINDAL'S PROPOSALS TO REVAMP PUBLIC EDUCATION.
CALCASIEU PARISH TEACHER ANGIE BONVILLAIN IS ONE OF FIVE TEACHERS WHO STARTED THE RECALL EFFORT. SHE DESCRIBED HERSELF AS "FED UP." SHE SAID NO ONE WAS LISTENING TO TEACHERS, WHO SHE SAID KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT'S NEEDED TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION THAN JINDAL AND OTHERS FAST-TRACKING THE CHANGES THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE. TO TRIGGER A RECALL ELECTION, ONE-THIRD OF THE STATE'S 2.86 MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS WOULD HAVE TO SIGN PETITIONS WITHIN 180 DAYS. GOVERNOR JINDAL’S PRESS SEC. SAID IN AN EMAILED STATEMENT, "WE'RE NOT CONCERNED."

THE TOWN COUNCIL IN GRAND ISLE IS WITHHOLDING A PERMIT FOR ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FISHING TOURNAMENTS IN LOUISIANA, THE 84-YEAR-OLD TARPON RODEO, OVER COMPLAINTS THAT THE EVENT DOES NOT DO ENOUGH FOR LOCAL VENDORS AND PAY OVERTIME FOR FIREFIGHTERS. THE COUNCIL VOTED 3-2 THIS PAST WEEK TO WITHHOLD THE PERMIT UNTIL THE RODEO REACHES AGREEMENTS WITH TWO LOCAL VENDORS FOR BEER AND DAIQUIRI BOOTHS AND REIMBURSES THE TOWN'S FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR OVERTIME EXPENSES. RODEO ORGANIZERS SAID THE TOURISM-DEPENDENT ISLAND RECEIVES PLENTY OF BENEFITS FROM THE EVENT. THE RODEO DRAWS ABOUT 15,000 PEOPLE.

DIRECTV INC. SUBSCRIBERS IN 19 U.S. MARKETS HAVE LOST ACCESS TO CERTAIN PROGRAMMING, AFTER TRIBUNE BROADCASTING SAID IT FAILED TO REACH A SETTLEMENT WITH THE SATELLITE TELEVISION PROVIDER IN THEIR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. ALL AND ALL 23 TRIBUNE STATIONS WERE DROPPED. TWO OF WHICH WERE IN NEW ORLEANS. WGNO
AND NOLA38.

SHREVEPORT POLICE SAY OFFICERS SHOT A 29-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO DROVE HIS TRUCK INTO AT LEAST TWO PARKED CARS, THEN ALLEGEDLY TRIED TO RUN OVER TWO MOUNTED PATROL OFFICERS. CHRISTOPHER DUGGAN OF BOSSIER CITY WAS IN CRITICAL CONDITION SUNDAY AND FACED CHARGES OF DRUNK DRIVING, RECKLESS DRIVING, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON A POLICE OFFICER AND FLIGHT.

SPORTS..

IT WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND FOR THE 12TH RANKED LSU TIGERS AS THEY SWEPT THIRD RANKED ARKANSAS BY WINNING THREE TO TWO IN ELEVEN INNINGS ON SUNDAY. THE TIGERS ARE OFF TODAY AND THEY'LL PLAY LOUISIANA COLLEGE TOMORROW NIGHT. ON THURSDAY, LSU BEGINS A THREE-GAME SERIES AGAINST TOP-RANKED FLORIDA IN GAINESVILLE.

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