News for Thursday June 4th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Tropical Storm Cristobal is slowly moving inland over eastern Mexico, but it’s expected to get back into the Gulf of Mexico and start heading north on Friday. The National Hurricane Center forecasts the storm will stay at tropical storm strength when crossing the Gulf of Mexico, but State Climatologist Barry Keim says conditions for reaching hurricane strength are favorable. Landfall along the Louisiana coast is possible Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Governor Edwards says the state is planning for an active hurricane season and making adjustments to existing preparedness guidelines with COVID-19 in mind. Edwards says shelters are a major piece of the state’s response efforts but now is not the best time for congregate mega shelters. Edwards says another issue they’re trying to solve is the potential lack of help from humanitarian groups the state relies upon to provide aid in a crisis. Edwards says the state is also working to establish new deals with our neighbors to house residents should the occasion call for it, despite COVID-19 still being prevalent here.
The RPSO reports two people are in custody after a shooting incident in Wardville early yesterday morning. When Deputies arrived on the scene shortly after 1pm the victims said they were in a verbal altercation with the suspects earlier that evening. After leaving the location, the suspects pursued the victims and shot at them several times, striking their vehicle. No one was injured. The suspects, 25 year old Johnney Roberts of Pineville and 21 year old Laiken Vollm of Alexandria, were arrested Wednesday afternoon.
KALB reports Alexandria City Councilman Harry Silver is suing the City of Alexandria and Council President Jules Green for allegedly violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. Silver, who is 98-years-old, said neither the city nor Councilman Green provided accommodations to enable him to attend council meetings via telephone, because he is susceptible to COVID-19 due to his age. Silver is the oldest elected official in the United States. The lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in Alexandria. Silver said he has been unable to attend council meetings since Feb. 4.
Funeral service information has been released for Ben and Blake Cooper, two prominent members of the Alexandria community who died following a plane crash near the Pineville Municipal Airport at Lake Buhlow last Sunday. Private family services will be held at Calvary Baptist Church this Friday. A public drive-thru visitation will begin at 12 and continue until 2 p.m.
The Alexandria Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the death of McKinsley Lincoln, a black, gay man from Alexandria who was shot to death on May 15 around 11:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of Day Street. APD says all aspects of any criminality are being considered, including the possibility of a hate crime. Lincoln's mother said that he was an openly gay man that was the target of harassment and discrimination.
On Friday restaurants and bars that serve food will be able to open at 50 percent capacity as the state moves into Phase Two. President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Stan Harris believes the transition to increase capacity with effective social distancing will help put restaurants on the road to recovery. Tables can be arranged 6 feet apart in Phase Two as opposed to the current eight to ten feet apart. Restaurant workers are still required to wear masks and Harris says even though it makes it difficult to socialize, workers have adapted to the new change.
Some courts are set to resume operations in Phase Two and with that the resumption of evictions. Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center Executive Director Cashauna Hill says evictions are a legal process that cannot proceed without a court hearing. Landlords with federally backed mortgages will not be able to file for evictions until August 24th.
Governor Edwards weighed in on tort reform legislation that’s headed to his desk, indicating he’s not a fan of the River Ridge Senator Kirk Talbot’s bill proponents say would lower auto insurance rates by implementing lawsuit reform. The legislation cleared the Legislature without a veto-proof majority Monday, losing several supporters on the last day due to changes made to the bill over the weekend. One of the changes made just before the bill was introduced Monday afternoon drew a rebuke from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, saying the unclear wording could allow people who only suffered minor injuries to collect significant settlements.
Gov. John Bel Edwards moved swiftly on Wednesday to fill a key government vacancy by naming a senior Louisiana State Police official as the new chairman of the state gambling board. Lt. Col. Mike Noel, the number two official at State Police, replaces Ronnie Jones, who spent seven years as the head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board before being unexpectedly ousted in a power play Monday.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser says the failure to reappoint Ronnie Jones as the chairman of Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board appears to be bad blood related to New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson’s frustration with the way she was treated following an incident where she was spotted in a casino. Peterson has a gambling addiction. Nungesser says the timing of the retaliation could not be worse as everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction to get the state back where it needs to be. A Louisiana State Police trooper issued Peterson a misdemeanor summons for violating a self-imposed casino ban when she gambled at L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge in February 2019.
The Louisiana Speaker of the House and Senate President form a joint organization aimed at promoting a unified message about the work both chambers are doing. Leading Louisiana Executive Director Lionel Rainey says the organization will be promoting legislation like the 300 million dollar small business grant fund that was sent to the Governor’s desk.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser celebrates the 20,000 Louisianans who packed into state parks over the last two weekends, numbers not seen since 2008. The state was offering campers a free night if they stayed in a cabin for several nights and Nungesser says the deal appears to have been a hit.
The deputy in charge of supervising Tangipahoa Parish Jail's kitchen staff has died of the coronavirus, according to the warden and the man's family members. Kietrell Pitts, 44, died Sunday after a two-week battle with the disease that his family says began with mild symptoms and escalated to organ failure within days.
Saints Q-B Drew Brees is receiving backlash on social media today. In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Brees reiterated his stance on players kneeling during the U-S national anthem. Brees says he will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States. The future Hall of Famer says he thinks about his two grandfathers fighting in World War Two when he stands with his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas responded to Brees’ comments on Twitter by saying he don’t know no better.
Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Louisiana native Dak Prescott pledges to donate one million dollars to improve police training and address systematic racism through education and advocacy in our country. Prescott says he’s disgusted and unsettled by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron says he will not tolerate racism in an interview with Sports Illustrated and supports his players who are hurting over Floyd’s death.
The NBA Board of Governors will vote tomorrow on a return to play plan for 22 of the league’s 30 teams. There will be 13 teams from the Western Conference, including the Pelicans and nine from the Eastern Conference. The league is proposing eight regular-season games to be played in Orlando starting on July 31st. New Orleans is 3.5 games back of Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West. If the Pels finish in ninth place, but yet four games back of the Grizzlies, there will be a double elimination play-in tournament to see who gets in the traditional 16-team postseason format.
Will there be a baseball season? As expected Major League Baseball rejected the players union 114-game plan and does not plan on making a counterproposal. According to the Athletic, the league is ready to talk with players about playing a shorter season, possibly as few as 50 games, without any fans. Joel Sherman with the New York Post says pessimism is growing over a season not happening in 2020.