News for Thursday 012518
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has declined for the eighth straight month to 4.6 percent in December. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in nearly a decade. Over 2.1 million Louisianan’s are currently working.
The American Lung Association has released their “State of Tobacco Control” and shows Louisiana lags behind the nation in reducing tobacco use. The report card gives the state “F”s in four out of five key categories. The report estimates that 72-hundred deaths in Louisiana are directly related to smoking with 23 percent of residents who regularly use tobacco, making it the 6th highest in the country.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ worst-case-scenario budget calls for a 76 million dollar cut in state funding for the Department of Corrections. The cuts are a combination of attrition, canceling of infrastructure repairs, and the lowering of per diems paid to local sheriffs who house state inmates. Corrections Secretary James Leblanc says the per diem cut in particular is dangerous. Leblanc says the cuts could lead to unsafe conditions for both inmates and corrections officers.
A mother who was 16 years old at the time her 27-day old baby died was sentenced to 17 years of hard prison labor. Donasty Cohen of Alexandria was convicted late last year in the death of her son Ashtyn Cohen. Cohen was facing second degree murder charges. The judge in sentencing Donasty prefaced her decision saying she didn’t take her decision lightly, but said an innocent baby died from severe abuse.
Deaf students have filed a discrimination suit against the Louisiana Community College System, alleging Delgado Community College denied sign language interpreters and other accommodations. Plaintiffs’ attorney Andrew Bizer says Delgado violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bizer says the discrimination directly led to a loss of financial aid.
Retired State Police Superintendent Mike Edmondson’s attorney has responded to a legislative audit that found evidence of misconduct and tax evasion throughout his nine year tenure. The letter touted Edmonson’s character and leadership, but Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says there was one notable omission.
Edmondson’s was accused of using a state facility for housing, and not reporting it on his taxes. Ciolino says finding a defense for that accusation will be difficult.
Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s Congressional delegation, state legislators, and lobbyists, are in DC this week for the annual Washington Mardi Gras. It’s a tradition that sees movers and shakers from the state throw a miniature Mardi Gras in the heart of the nation’s capital. LAPolitics publisher Jeremy Alford says it’s one of the hottest tickets in town.
A Lafayette tv station reports the person who fell off a Carnival Cruise Line near Mexico over the weekend has been identified as 44-year-old Juwanna Brooks. KLFY interviewed the mother Marilyn Winfrey who says the cruise was a Christmas gift from Brooks’ husband. Mexican officials are still looking for Brooks but haven’t found any evidence since she fell off the cruise ship on Sunday.
State police report a Fort Polk soldier injured in a November crash that killed a fellow soldier has been charged with vehicular homicide and reckless operation. 26 year old Alejandro Galvan Jr. was booked into the Vernon Parish Jail on Friday. The crash back on Nov. 30 of last year claimed the life of a 22 year old West Virginia man.
Tallulah has been struggling with water issues and now an electrical transformer failure has left the city without water today. Hard freezes hampered the system earlier this month. Administrative Assistant to the Mayor Yvonne Lewis says water was restored to the city Just Tuesday and Thursday the transformer failure knocked it out again. It is hoped water will start flowing again later today.
A mobile trailer fire in Hammond has claimed the life of one man. Preliminary findings from the state fire marshal’s office indicates the deadly blaze was a result of the resident using an outdoor cooking burner to heat the trailer.