News for Thursday 022813
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal has announced three legislative proposals he plans to get behind in support of Louisiana Veterans. Jindal says he'll pursue legislation that creates penalties for anyone who fraudulently takes advantage of a veterans business incentives, protects veterans' funerals by establishing a protest-free perimeter, and ensuring active military and vets have improved access to specialized treatment.
Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to take $100 million from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to help fund higher education in next year’s state budget. However, with roughly four months left in the current state fiscal year, the convention center has yet to transfer $20 million the governor put into this year’s state budget. The state expects to be $1.3 billion short of the money needed to keep state government services at their current levels in the budget year that begins July 1.
A new report shows Louisiana and four other states as the example in how to reduce juvenile confinement. All five states in the Justice Policy Institute study released today had a 50 percent or more reduction in the number of juveniles incarcerated from 2001 to 2010. Other states in the report were Connecticut, Tennessee, Minnesota and Arizona. Louisiana had nearly a 53 percent drop in the number of juvenile confinements going from a rate of 505 youth per 100,000 in 2001 to 239 in 2010.
Louisiana is bucking a national trend in a good way. Data from the Governors Highway Safety association shows deaths of 16-and-17-year-old drivers increased sharply nationwide in the first six months of 2012, reversing a decade-long trend. However, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission spokesperson Elaine Rougeau says those numbers did not rise in .
Having a rough time making ends meet? You are not alone. Gas prices, for one, have been on a steady rise over the last few weeks. According to Triple-A, the statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.66, which is 45-cents more than a month ago. UNO economist Janet Speyrer (spier) says food prices are also up and rising medical costs are also making it tougher on many consumers. Another problem is that people have less disposable income, because the end of the payroll tax holiday at the start of the year, means less take home pay.
Louisiana lawmakers are set to meet today to discuss the investigation into the company Explo at Camp Minden and 10 millions of pounds of improperly stored explosives. Bossier City Representative Jeff Thompson is on the House Committee on Homeland Security. He says they want to ensure that tax payers aren't footing the bill for the cost of cleaning up the material. He says they also need to identify the source of the oversight and make sure this never happens again.
The Public Service Commission has pulled the plug on an "energy efficiency" program that they approved last December. The program would encourage consumers to become more energy efficient, but it would also add a line item charge on monthly bills. PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta says they will look at ways to improve the program and bring it back for another vote in four or five months.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter filed a comprehensive bill Wednesday to increase offshore oil production revenue sharing with Louisiana and other affected states, to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and to expedite other permitting for projects such as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Vitter, R-La., said the Energy Production and Project Delivery Act is intended to boost domestic energy production and economic development while also helping the “host” states that would share in the increased federal revenues.
State Police are investigation the case of two K-9 officers who went missing and were later found in shelters Tuesday night. They say the two dogs disappeared from the Bent Tree area from Marrero. Both were unharmed.
18 year old Seth Fontenot of Lafayette will not have to face the death penalty for the alleged murder of 15-year-old Austin Rivault and the attempted murders of two of Rivault's 15-year-old friends. Court documents indicate the Lafayette Parish DA agreed to take the death penalty off the table. Fontenot is accused of opening fire on the three teenagers as they were riding by his home.
In efforts to help the New Orleans Saints get under the salary cap, quarterback Drew Brees commented to WWL Radio that he would be willing to consider anything that would help the team or its cap situation. But ESPN is reporting it wouldn't matter because the wording of Brees' contract makes it difficult to provide salary cap relief.
News for Wednesday 022713
By Dave Graichen
State Police say there are more explosives at Camp Minden than originally estimated. Spokesperson Matt Harris says they originally estimated there were 6 million pounds of an improperly stored military propellant, but now they believe it's closer to 10 million. He says authorities are still looking for space to house the remaining 3.5 million pounds of material that's left to be moved but it's been a slow process.
A week prior to the mandatory budget cuts, also called the "sequestration" was to take effect, The Department of Homeland Security released hundreds of illegal aliens from detention centers along the Gulf Coast--including here in Louisiana. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says he's uncertain how many were released in our state.
Senator Mary Landrieu has some harsh words for Bobby Jindal, accusing the Republican governor of obstructionism. The Democratic senator says Jindal's refusal to expand the state's Medicaid program is tied to his presidential ambitions, putting his potential political future ahead of the people of Louisiana. Jindal says he disagrees with the growth of the federal government health care program and states should be free to design health programs that suit their individual needs.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say a Marksville man is behind bars for allegedly killing a Louisiana black bear. They say a lengthy investigation led detectives to 30-year-old Derek Sayer who was arrested for shooting and killing the bear on November 27th in Avoyelles Parish. Louisiana Black Bears have been on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species list since 1992.
The Presidents of Louisiana's four public college systems want state lawmakers to approve legislation that would give colleges and universities more authority in setting their own tuition. Senate Education Chairman Conrad Appel says he'll introduce legislation that addresses funding for higher education, but he also wants to see schools doing a better job in offering degrees that will lead to better paying jobs, once the student graduates.
Students at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond will likely see their tuition rise starting this fall. The University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a 10 percent tuition hike at all nine of its campuses. Before the increase can take effect, though it also has to be approved by the state Board of Regents higher education policy board.
Funeral services will be held today for Paul McIlhenny, the late chairman of Tabasco pepper sauce. McIlhenny was also an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, as he was active in coastal restoration efforts, helping to create the America's Wetland Foundation. McIhenny, who was the chief executive of Tabasco since 1988, died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday. He was 68
A Metairie lawmaker files legislation that would allow Louisiana residents to purchase guns that may one day be declared illegal by the federal government. Representative Joe Lopinto's bill would create intrastate gun trade where gun dealers and manufacturers can get licensed in Louisiana to sell guns within the state. Lopinto says his proposed bill, called the Louisiana Manufactured Firearms and Ammunitions Act, would allow for gun manufacturers to apply for a Louisiana license to make and sell guns within the state, even if they are prohibited by the federal government.
A Bossier City lawmaker says multiple solutions are in the works so that homeless shelters can accept donations of deer meat from hunters. State officials had to destroy over 14-hundred pounds of donated venison which upset Hunters for Hungry, who donated the food. Representative Jeff Thompson says the issue with the deer meat was over sanitary concerns. Thompson says the Department of Health and Hospitals agrees not to destroy any more deer meat until regulations are in place.
State Superintendent of Education John White said Tuesday Public school teachers will have a wide array of resources to aid in the launch of tougher academic standards that begin next year,
White also said the resources — called a Classroom Support Toolbox — were crafted by about 150 teachers rather than relying on directives from state education officials. The new academic rules are called common core standards. Louisiana and 44 other states have adopted the guidelines, which are aimed at making students more competitive worldwide and easier state-to-state comparisons on student achievement. The new standards take effect for the 2014-15 school year.
An art deco landmark in downtown Baton Rouge, a slice of a St. Tammany Parish psychiatric hospital campus and prime property near the Louisiana Capitol need to be sold within the next year to make Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget balance. Jindal proposes unloading six tracts of state property around south Louisiana to drum up $47 million, money that he’s using to help pay for public colleges in his budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year that starts July 1. None of the deals are done, and lawmakers have been reticent about making some of the sales, which need legislative approval before “for sale” signs can be planted on the sites.
LSU and a state agency paid former coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden $435,000 to settle court claims that his LSU career was destroyed because he alleged engineering mistakes allowed New Orleans to flood during Hurricane Katrina. In his three-year-old lawsuit in Baton Rouge federal court, Van Heerden alleged that some university officials systematically ended his ability to perform hurricane research and eventually refused to renew his contract because they feared he would cost the school federal funds.
A Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy is under arrest for allegedly stealing stuff from the evidence locker. 54-year-old George Hernandez is accused of felony systematic theft. Just WHAT he reportedly took is being kept under wraps for now.
The LSU men's basketball team can get above the 500 mark in SEC play with a win tonight at home over Arkansas. The Tigers 5-and-2 in the month of February after beating Alabama in triple overtime last Saturday. You can hear the game tonight beginning at 6:30 on 970 KSYL.
After a big first half, Williams scored 11 of his 33 points in the final 1 minute, 24 seconds, and the Nets held on for a 101-97 victory against a furious comeback by the Hornets. The Hornets play at the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, the last game of their four meetings this season. Airtime 7pm on espn 1410am
The lSU tiger baseball team had no problem squashing UL Lafayette last night 11 to 2. They’ll play brown Friday night at the box.
News for Tuesday 020613
By Dave Graichen
A 4-year-old child appears to be unharmed after being found in his home sunday with the bodies of his parents who had been dead for two days. Jennings authorities are investigating the shooting deaths of Charles and Katrina Williams. The couple were apparently killed Friday night. The woman's mother discovered them sunday and called police. The child, other than shaken, is reportedly ok.
There was a bomb threat Monday on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. University Police detective Doug Prescott says the threat was called in to the School of Math, Science and Arts. He says several law enforcement agencies were called in, to help search the buildings for a possible bomb. To quote Prescott, It was obviously a hoax since nothing went off. He says investigators are working in tracing the bomb threat call to the guilty party.
Someone left a truck with several incendiary bombs inside parked outside the Whitney Bank on Canal Street in New Orleans Monday. Police used a robot to remove some of the eight devices found in the vehicle. The bank and nearby businesses were evacuated during that; traffic on Canal stopped as well. Investigators are now determining who the abandoned truck belongs to and what the bombs were doing in it.
Numbers from the White House show Louisiana will lose millions of federal education dollars and about 7,000 department of defense workers will be furloughed, if a deal to avoid automatic budget cuts is not
reached by Friday. Sequestration will also result in Louisiana losing 2.5 million dollars for clean water and air quality initiatives. The state will also lose grant money that helps over a thousand people with substance abuse issues.
After a long bout with cancer, US District Court Judge Frank Polozola died Sunday night. Polozola was the judge in the 2000 federal trial of former Governor Edwin Edwards. Polozola sentenced Edwards to 10 years in prison and fined him $250,000 for racketeering and extortion.
An Acadiana legislator proposes a tobacco tax increase, with revenues raised to be protected from political deal-making. Democratic Carencro Representative Stephen Ortego (OR-tih-go) says most voters support higher taxes on cigarettes, but only if the money goes to crucial health care needs. Ortego says his bill would let voters have a role in how much the tobacco tax should be, and where the revenues should be spent. Ortego says he is filing the bill for the coming Legislative session.
The Charenton man arrested after allegedly shooting and killing a Chitimacha Tribal police Sgt., suspected of killing another man and burning down his house and wounding two St. Mary Parish deputies has been sent to a mental facility. Attorneys say Wilbert Thibodeaux's new location reinforces earlier assessments that he may be mentally unfit for trial.
The state legislative auditor has released a scathing review of the 75-million dollar Katrina cottage program in Louisiana. The federal government provided 75-million dollars, so that the state can build
homes to provide emergency housing for hurricane victims. Legislative auditor Daryl Purpera says it took seven years before all 461 cottages constructed were occupied. However, more than half of the cottages were so poorly build residents had to move out within months of moving in. The alternative housing program resulted in the construction of homes at 12 sites in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and New Orleans.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon urges homeowners not to forget tax credits and other incentives for doing storm mitigation upgrades to their homes. Donelon says there is a tax break for retrofitting one's
home to withstand hurricanes. For information on the Storm Mitigation Incentives, visit the Insurance
Department website, at "LDI.LA.gov". Donelon says homeowners can not only claim a tax credit, but can also get lower property insurance rates...once the upgrades are complete.
The former Jefferson Parish police jury president will spend nearly four years in federal prison for his conviction on public corruption charges. Aaron Broussard pleaded guilty last September to accepting
bribes from businessmen and to payroll fraud for creating a supervisory job for his then-wife--who was not qualified for the position. He's must pay over $200-thousand in restitution.
Defensive backs will take the field at the NFL draft combine today, including former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger has been in Indianapolis since the weekend, talking with NFL teams about the drug problems that forced him to miss the 2012 season. Mathieu says the year off should not hurt his ability on the football field. Mathieu says he doesn't want NFL teams to have any doubt that he is
committed to turning his life around and being 100% focused on playing professional football.
News for Monday 022513
By Dave Graichen
Automatic spending cuts at the federal level, or sequestration (see-kwes-trey-shuhn), could mean some Louisiana airports would have to close air traffic control facilities. The US Department of Transportation named 200 sites it would considering closing. On the government's list, Shreveport Downtown, Monroe Regional, Lakefront in New Orleans, Lake Charles Regional and Chennault International also in Lake Charles. Alexandria International did not make the list of airports affected by the cut backs.
BP's civil trail, for damages brought about by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well explosion and oil spill, begins today in New Orleans. Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino says lawyers for the
plaintiffs will seek to prove that BP was "grossly negligent" in events leading up to the disaster.
Ciolino says a court finding of "gross negligence" could also mean billions more in fines for BP, for violating the federal Clean Water Act. BP has already agreed to a $4.5-Billion federal settlement for criminal charges in the catastrophe.
The state bond commission signs off on a plan for Louisiana to borrow 100-million dollars that will be used to resurface rural roads in desperate need of maintenance. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jodi Conachen says some of the roads that will benefit from this money have not been upgraded in 30 years.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has some ideas on how to make schools safer. He says he's recently discussed these ideas with Vice President Joe Biden and they have nothing to do with gun control. Caldwell believes things like a button under a teacher's desk to alert authorities of impending danger need to be placed in classrooms. Caldwell also proposes limiting access to the schools so that a
potential gunman would have to go through an office that is being guarded. He says he supports armed security guards but he doesn't believe teachers should have guns in their classrooms.
The White House released a statement Friday stating the President has signed a disaster declaration for Louisiana so areas affected by massive storms and flooding in the state in January can receive assistance. The funds will pay for emergency response work and repairs for areas that were damaged between January 8th-17th.
For the second time this year, animals have been killed after being attacked by stray dogs at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe. Director Joe Clawson says they believe several dogs attacked three exotic antelope. He says zoo staff caught the dogs in the act. Clawson blames these horrific animal attacks on irresponsible pet owners and people who feed feral animals.
Several U-S House members from Louisiana are expressing interest in challenging Senator Mary Landrieu, who is up for re-election next year. Republicans Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy and John Fleming are potential challengers. U-L Lafayette Political Science Professor Pearson Cross says at this point, Landrieu is expected to win a 4th term.
Paul McIlhenny, chief executive and chairman of the board of the McIlhenny Co. that makes the trademarked line of Tabasco hot pepper sauces sold the world over, has died. The company, based on south Louisiana’s Avery Island, said in a statement that McIlhenny had died Saturday. Other details have not been released. At the time of his death, McIlhenny was also a company director. He was a sixth-generation member of the family to live on Avery Island and among the fourth generation to produce the Tabasco brand sauce on Avery Island, where patriarch Edmund McIlhenny had founded the company in 1868. Paul Mcllhenny was 68.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue wants taxpayers to be aware that many school expenses are eligible for tax breaks. LDR spokesperson Byron Henderson says tuition, uniforms supplies and other education expenses paid in 2012 may be eligible for deductions. Henderson says you can
visit revenue.louisiana.gov for more information.
Louisiana victims of con men, running a driveway resurfacing scam, will get their lost money back. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the two Texas men, Billy Densmore and Derrick Johnson, cheated numerous people across the state. He says the men preyed on the elderly and vulnerable.
News for Friday 022213
By Dave Graichen
Governor Bobby Jindal unveils the basics of his executive budget plan for the fiscal year that starts in July. The Governor says his office's $24.7-billion plan comes in at over $900-million less than the current year. Jindal says the budget had to shrink this year, due to Congress slashing Louisiana's federal Medicaid match rate. The budget cuts 10,000 state jobs--mostly by attrition, but many by moving state hospital workers into public/private partnership employment.
Several Louisiana military operations could be severely impacted if a deal is not struck in Washington DC by March 1st that would avoid automatic budget cuts. Minden Congressman John Fleming serves on the House Armed Forces Committee and he's concerned about operations at Fort Polk. He says along with Fort Polk...Camp Minden, Camp Beauregard and the Louisiana National Guard and reserve units could see a 58-million dollar reduction in funding.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon urges property owners to be sure to claim their rebate for assessments made to help pay off Hurricane Katrina debt incurred by the state-run last resort insurance company. Donelon says you can get the rebate as a state income tax deduction or in the form of a check or debit card. More information is online at ldi.la.gov.
State Superintendent of Education John White announces a five-point plan that will help improve public schools. He says improving the graduation rate among students with disabilities will be one of those priorities along with focusing on reducing the number of "F" graded schools, helping students earn technical college associate degrees and assisting teachers achieve nationwide assessment
An Ohio-based glass company's plans are expected to result in the loss of about 200 jobs in Shreveport. Toledo-based Libbey Inc. said Thursday that it plans to end sales of some items and reduce production at Shreveport. Some of that production will be relocated to Toledo and to Monterrey, Mexico. A timetable was not announced
Oscar Sunday is just about here and Louisiana has plenty of nominations to be proud of. Louisiana Office of Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly says he's especially excited about two movies that were filmed here and nominated for the coveted Best Picture Academy Award. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony airs Sunday at 6 on ABC.
Former LSU Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon was discharged from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on Thursday after suffering a stroke on Tuesday. Family members say Cannon is doing extremely well and is up and walking.
A lawsuit filed in federal court claims that former priest Mark Broussard admitted to sexually abusing young boys in 1998.The lawsuit, filed by one of Mark Broussard’s alleged victims, seeks $18 million in damages from the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Lake Charles and the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The plaintiff claims that Broussard molested him during his pre-adolescent years “on a daily basis” from 1985 to 1988 in Broussard’s living quarters at OLQH, as well as other locations.
Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted to date. When new data on the rate of coastal subsidence is married with updated projections of sea-level rise, the southeast corner of Louisiana looks likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of Gulf water by the end of the century.
The first of the Louisiana Soundtrack Experience Concert Series is happening tomorrow in Shreveport. Lt Governor Jay Dardenne says the concerts are a part of the 2013 celebration of Louisiana's Music. Saturday's event is called "From Elvis to Hank to Johnny: Celebrating 65 years of the Louisiana Hayride." The concert kick off at 7pm at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
The Louisiana Lottery says we've got a new millionaire in the state. Spokesperson Kimberly Chopin says a woman from Morgan City is $2 million richer after the February 16th drawing. She says Amy Sturges matched all five white numbers in the drawing, but added the Power Play option to her Quick Pick. Chopin says the Sturges family plans to buy a nice travel camper with some of their winnings.
"Select" schools say split playoffs in football violate the LHSAA Constitution. The association has voted that public schools will compete against each other in the playoffs, while private and parochial schools will have their own postseason. LHSAA Commissioner Kenny Henderson says their lawyers will look to see if "proposal 18" as its called violates the association's constitution.
News for Thursday 022113
By Dave Graichen
The National Weather Service says there's a slight risk of severe thunderstorms across Louisiana today. State Climatologist Barry Keim says that means we could see heavy downpours, high winds, hail and there's a possibility of tornadoes. Keim says this latest rain event continues the trend of the above-normal precipitation that's been recorded so far this year.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief financial adviser says Louisiana has more borrowing capacity available under the state debt limit to keep money flowing for construction work than officials thought. The recalculation provides some relief for the Jindal administration, which was faced with the threat of projects grinding to a halt within months. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Wednesday the state can borrow enough to continue construction spending through June 2014. Previous estimates had the state running out of money in less than half that time. Nichols says an error was discovered in a report from the treasurer’s office.
Vernon Parish officials are calling on the Department of the Army to update the information it is using to make decisions about force and operations changes at Fort Polk. Vernon Parish police jurors unanimously adopted a resolution urging Army and federal officials to update a Programmatic Environmental Assessment that details options for Fort Polk and 20 other stateside bases. In one option under consideration, the Army would reduce Fort Polk's military and civilian complement by about 50 percent. Another option would add 1,000 personnel to the base's current complement of just under 11,000.
A state lawmaker has pre-filed a bill to restrict the use of automated traffic cameras. State Rep. Paul Hollis says his bill would take a different approach than the other bills that have failed in the past. He says drivers whose vehicles are registered in areas with no red light cameras shouldn't have to pay a fine if they're issued a ticket. The representative says unlike their promoted use, red-light and speed-enforcement cameras have nothing to do with helping keeping Louisiana roads safer and that they are nothing more than a revenue-generating tool.
An Amite state lawmaker says he intends to run for Governor in 2015. Democrat John Bel Edwards says he's not concerned about the recent struggles of the state Democratic Party. He believes that by 2015 voters will be ready for change. Edwards says he'd prioritize restoring funding to critical programs that have been cut under the Jindal Administration. He is currently the head of the House Democratic Caucus.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleads not guilty to corruption charges in court yesterday. His trial is set for April 29th and was released on a $100,000 bond. Nagin's travel is also restricted to
Louisiana and Texas.
There's a hubbub in Shreveport over several hundred pounds of donated meat that was destroyed by state Health Inspectors. Deer hunters gave their extra venison - over 1500 pounds of it - to the city's rescue mission for the hungry and homeless. When health inspectors found the meat, they tossed it in a dumpster and poured bleach on it - saying it wasn't regulated by the USDA. A Haughton meat processor says the venison was handled and packaged properly before delivery and the food was senselessly wasted.
According to the Vermont Complex Systems Center, Louisiana is apparently the saddest state. The team reserved 10 million geo-tagged tweets and looked for key emotional words such as love, hope, damn, hate and lied. Based on that criteria, The Bayou State is the saddest in the country followed by Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware and Georgia. The happiest is Hawaii.
Sources with LSU say former Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon is improving, after suffering a stroke Tuesday . Cannon is reportedly resting comfortably, and his overall condition is much better.
The 4th ranked LSU baseball team is in action tonight as they are scheduled to play B-Y-U at Alex Box Stadium. But the weather forecast doesn't look good. LSU is set to play BYU tonight, Southeastern Louisiana on Friday night and then BYU again Saturday night. The Tigers are off to a 4-and-0 start. If the game is played, you will be able to hear it on 970 ksyl. Airtime 6pm.
L-S-U releases details of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's contract. Cameron will earn 600-thousand dollars this coming season, then his annual salary will increase to $1.3-million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015. In comparison, the average pay for an associate professor at LSU is $100,000
News for Tuesday 021913
By Dave Graichen
Longtime local minister and public servant B.G. Dyess died Monday. Dyess was a former state senator and served as Rapides Parish’s registrar of voters for 24 years. Services are at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Parkview Baptist Church in Alexandria. Visitation is today at Hixson Brothers in Alexandria from 5-9 p.m., and also Wednesday at Parkview from 8:30-11 a.m. B.G. Dyess was 90 years old.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy yesterday during his “State Of The City” address said, The city is "fiscally and operationally sound," and that "The fiscal state of the city bodes well for its future. According to Mayor Roy, Alexandria is now one of the best fiscal responsibility models for municipalities in the state.
Campaign finance reports filed with the state board of ethics shows Governor Jindal raised the most money out of any Louisiana elected official in 2012. He cannot use that money to run for governor again, but there are other legal uses for it; like buying commercials to tout his legislative agenda, or to help boost his lagging popularity numbers. The highest funded Democrat in the state is currently New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has about a million bucks in his warchest. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Landrieu is up for re-election next year, but he could also be eyeing the governor’s office. Pinsonat says he expects Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and State Treasurer John Kennedy to also run for Governor in 2015.
Louisiana's Mary Landrieu is part of an effort in Congress to pass legislation that would require online businesses to collect sales tax at the point of purchase. Landrieu says it's unfair for local brick-and- mortar retailers to charge their customers sales tax, while online businesses do not. Landrieu joined a bipartisan group of 53 senators and representatives who have introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act. The senator says in Louisiana an estimated 800-million dollars of state sales tax revenue goes uncollected every year.
Gas prices continue their brutal climb. A gallon of regular gasoline in Louisiana is $3.57 on average and that's about 17 cents more than it was last week. Don Redman with the American Automobile association says that's an increase of 42 cents since the start of 2013. Redman says the price could be as high as $3.80 here by the end of the month and into March. He says one reason the price is increasing is
because refineries are switching to a summer blend of gas and some are shut down for maintenance.
New Orleans has hosted Super Bowls, final fours, BCS Championship games and now they'll get their chance to host Wrestlemania 30. The WWE will bring its premiere event to the Mercedes Benz Superdome on April 6th, 2014. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ecstatic the city will host this major event. They say Wrestlemania is expected to bring thousands of fans and tourists to the city as the WWE brings it premiere pay per view to the Big Easy.
A Bossier City lawmaker is leader of a grassroots campaign aimed at protecting Louisiana's Second Amendment gun rights. Representative Jeff Thompson calls his movement "Defend LA", and says it's about defending one's right to protect one's home and family. Thompson says Defend LA has already gathered over 3000 members. Thompson bill would assure that the identities of persons who have, or have applied for, concealed carry weapon permits remain private.
Citing the increased cost of doing business, Entergy Louisiana has asked the state's Public Service Commission to approve a rate hike for its customers. The increase would come to an average additional 8 dollars a month for most residences. PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta (sker-MET-uh) says the PSC will carefully go over Entergy's rate request, which is thousands of pages long. He says the review could take up to 12 months to approve--IF it is approved at all.
Investigators aboard the Carnival cruise ship "Triumph" say a leaking fuel line caused the engine fire that left the ship stranded in the middle of the Gulf. Passengers went through over 5 days of limited power, no toilets, cold food and no heating or air conditioning before they were finally towed to the Port of Mobile last Thursday night. At least one passenger has filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages.
The state Office of Conservation has ordered all of the state’s 34 salt dome operators to show how close their caverns are to the outer edges of the subterranean salt domes containing them and, for caverns closest to the salt edge, also to prove they are structurally sound. The directive is in response to the failure of a Texas Brine Co. cavern in the Napoleonville Dome that is believed to be the cause of an 8.6-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish. Conservation Commissioner James Welsh has given operators until March 18 to submit the information.
The LSU men's basketball team can get past the five-hundred mark in the SEC with a win tonight at Tennessee. The Fighting Tigers have won 5 of their last 6, to even their league record at six-and-six. Airtime is 5:30p this afternoon.
News for Monday 021813
By Dave Graichen
A statewide poll predicts the 2015 Governor's race could be a close one. Public Policy Polling surveyed 600 Louisiana voters to see who would win in a head-to-head match-up between New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and U-S Senator David Vitter. Each received 43-percent of the vote. The poll also asked voters who they would elect for governor if it was between Landrieu and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. The survey indicated the democratic mayor would win by a slight margin.
Governor Jindal unveils proposed legislation to ease state prison populations by locking up fewer non-violent offenders. Mr. Jindal says in Louisiana that's mostly simple drug offenders, who enter prison as 1st-offenders but leave as criminals. Mr. Jindal says even a little time in prison can affect people's future
earnings and employment potential. He says the proposed reform would saves millions by lowering inmate numbers, and would be more humane for 1st-time and non-violent offenders. The bill would also allow for early release & treatment for some current 1st-offense prisoners.
A public forum about the changes to laws and policies affecting Louisiana's public school system will be held Tuesday in Pineville. The forum, sponsored by the Louisiana Education Association, will begin at 6 p.m. at Kees Park Community Center. A panel of local education stakeholders and community members will participate in the discussion.. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.
State police report, A 27-year-old Pineville man was seriously injured Saturday, on highway 28 east near Libuse, when a pickup truck collided with his motorcycle. Justin Ewing was wearing a helmet, but sustained serious injuries after he was struck by a pickup driven by 18 year old Kevin Burns. Burns was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured. He was charged with failure to yield.
A weekend article in the Baton Rouge Advocate reported Governor Bobby Jindal spent almost one day of every four, at least 86 of 365 days, out of the state, mostly campaigning for Republican candidates around the nation and speaking to conservative political groups. Various GOP supporters and campaigns paid for Jindal’s hotel rooms and airfare for the campaign trips. Louisiana taxpayers, however, paid $65,000 to feed, house and, often, fly his security team. During the same time, Louisiana entered its fifth year of budget cuts because the state doesn’t have enough revenues to pay for services.
The University of Louisiana System will begin accepting applications today for its first 100% online collaborative degree. Spokeswoman Jackie Tisdell says the degree is for a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational leadership. to enter the program, students must be at least 25-years-old and have completed 60 hours of college credit including general education courses. She says the program is offered in five, eight week terms each year and costs $325 per credit hour. Tisdell says you can apply online at ulsystem.edu/OL.
Travel on Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans should be less of a headache, as the state Department of Transportation opens a new, widened stretch through the Capital City. DOTD spokesman Bill Grass says I-10, from the 10/12 split, to Seigen Lane is now six lanes wide, instead of four. The $86-million project was part of DOTD's "Geaux Wider" program.
Iberia Sheriff's Office deputies found the body of a male victim while recovering an overturned vehicle in a canal Sunday morning. The cause of the crash is still under investigation and the identity of the driver is not being released until notification to the next of kin.
The 3rd ranked LSU Tigers had a successful start to the college baseball season by sweeping Maryland. The Tigers only scored six runs in the first two games, but the bats came alive on Sunday in a 14-3 win. The Tigers play host to Lamar Tuesday Night.
News for Friday 021513
By Dave Graichen
Alexandria mayor Jacques Roy’s chief of staff, T.W. Thompson, has turned in his letter of resignation. Thompson holds three important positions in the city. Chief of staff for the mayor, director of the Division of Public Works and that of Commissioner of Public Safety. Thompson cited personal reasons for his resignation. His last day will be March 29.
The city of Leesville and surrounding towns are concerned about the Army's recent assessment of a possible huge troop reduction at Fort Polk. If implemented, would reduce the post's staffing by about half. Local Officials are asking area residents to pitch in by commenting on the report and contacting their congressmen. Information on the campaign, including sample letters commenting on the report and contact information for key congressmen and other elected officials, can be found on websites for the city of Leesville, the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, England Airpark, the Vernon Parish Police Jury and the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce.
A statewide survey conducted by the Public Policy Polling Survey shows Governor Jindal's approval rating has hit an all-time low of 37-percent. The same group conducted a similar poll two years ago, and Jindal's approval rating was 58-percent.
Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters yesterday, that they don’t have a proposal yet, but everything is on the table as he tries to develop a plan that eliminates personal and corporate income taxes in a “revenue neutral” way. Jindal said he continues to meet with legislators and others to get their ideas before settling on a bill he will ask a legislator to submit for consideration in the legislative session, which begins April 8.
A four-month investigation spanning Rapides and Natchitoches parishes into meth manufacturing led to the arrests of eight people and the discovery of multiple drug cooking spots in the Flatwoods and Mora areas. Local authorities say the investigation began in October 2012 after complaints were received.
A professor of physics at Louisiana Tech along with NASA predict an asteroid will fly closer to Earth today than any object of its size has ever before. Dr. Lee Sawyer says the big rock is about 150 feet in
diameter, about half the length of a football field. He says the asteroid will pass within 17,200 miles of the Earth's surface which is actually closer than most communications satellites.
Former US Attorney Jim Letten has been hired by Tulane University Law School. They say Letten will be an assistant dean for "experiential learning" , a newly created position. He is expected
to start the new job later this month.
A federal judge today found Transocean, the company that owned BP's ill-fated Deepwater Horizon oil rig, guilty of violating the federal Clean Water Act. Transocean will have to pay $400-million in federal
fines and be on probation for 5 years.
Police in Bossier say a Shreveport woman robbed a Wal-Mart by hiding about $70 worth of items in her 6-year-old son's jacket. When she was confronted she ran through the parking lot, dragging her son who
almost got hit by a car. The 28 year old woman then went back to the same Wal Mart hours later to pick up a ring she'd dropped off to be sized. She was arrested.
Police in Maringouin say a school bus went into the bayou there after hitting a house Thursday morning. They say at the time of the accident there were 20 students on the bus and four were taken to a local hospital complaining about head and back pain. The driver told investigators he couldn't turn the bus, and that's when he hit the house.
Authorities in Caddo Parish say a Keithville school teacher is under arrest for alleged sexual contact with a special needs student. 33-year-old Jeremy Pierce, a teacher at Port City Christian Academy
in Shreveport, is believed to have had inappropriate behavior with the girl on several occasions, on school grounds.
Jeff Davis Parish deputies arrest a Hathaway teen for indecent behavior with a minor and other charges. 18-year-old Michael Gotte Jr. was charged with computer-aided solicitation of a minor, inappropriate behavior with a juvenile and production of child pornography. The girl was 14.
The 2013 LSU baseball team begins its quest today for Omaha and an appearance in the College World Series. The Tigers host Maryland at 7:00 tonight in the season opener. Airtime 6:30 on Talk Radio 970 KSYL.
News for Thursday 021413
By Dave Graichen
The state department of education is accepting applications from families who are seeking state aid so their child can attend a private or parochial school next year. State Superintendent of Education John
White says 134 schools have been approved to take voucher students, which is up from the 118 that are participating this year. A state judge ruled in November that Louisiana is violating the constitution by funding the voucher program with money designated for public schools. The state supreme court will hear oral arguments on this issue next month. White says they can continue the voucher program, despite the legal challenge.
It's Valentine’s Day, and a Marksville couple married for 82 years will be recognized today as the state's longest KNOWN married couple. Louisiana Family Forum Executive Director Gene Mills says Norman and Norma Burma are the reigning champs, having won the same honor last year. The Burma’s says the secret to the longevity of their marriage is they love and respect one another.
Health officials have called this year’s influenza outbreak in Louisiana one of the most severe in years, but finally the number of reported cases is starting to go down. State immunization director Dr. Frank Welch says this week there's been yet another decrease in flu activity. Welch says even though we are getting close to the end of the flu season, there have been a couple of reported strains going around so you should still get a flu shot if you haven't already.
CB&I completed its acquisition of The Shaw Group Inc. on Wednesday. CB&I and Shaw shareholders overwhelmingly approved the $3 billion merger in December. The combined company has more than $11 billion in annual revenue and a backlog of work exceeding $28 billion.
The sinkhole in Assumption Parish has grown again. Swallowing up parts of the bayou the hole has already forced 100 people to evacuate since August. However the latest increase, by roughly 5,000 square feet, is not reportedly going near homes or the highway.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's office is investigating the case of a three-year-old boy that was found dead in his Marrero home as a possible homicide. They say the boy’s mother called 911 to make the
report and deputies had to break in to the home because she couldn't get out. Little Desmond Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies detected a strong gasoline smell within the home, but a
possible motive is unknown at this time.
Mardi Gras is over, and so begins the 40 days of Lent for many Christians. Harlon Pearce, with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board says the industry is in pretty good shape for all
those craving delicious Louisiana seafood for Lent. Pearce says the seafood industry is slowly but surely recovering, after both the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in in 2010 and Hurricane Isaac last summer.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne unveils the state's tourism campaign for 2013; focusing on Louisiana's music. Dardenne says the new ads include zydeco, rock, country, swamp pop and jazz music from all corners of the state. He says the time is right to use homegrown Louisiana music to entice new visitors to the state.
The campaign is a series of TV, radio and print ads touting Louisiana as "where the music never stops, and where most of it started".
Sen. David Vitter filed a slate of immigration-related bills Wednesday, while continuing his opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform” pushed by the Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight.” Vitter’s proposals range from offering more visas to those who earn doctorates in the U.S. to more extreme changes that would end automatic citizenship for babies born in the country.
The LSU men's basketball team is in South Carolina tonight to take on a struggling Gamecocks team that has lost four in a row. The Tigers head into the contest with a 13-and-8 overall record, 4-and-6 in the SEC. you can hear the game this evening starting at 5:30 on Talk Radio 970 KSYL.
News for Wednesday 021313
By Dave Graichen
An arrest has been made in the double murder case in Abbeville. Officials say 24-year-old Mike Guidry and his brother 25 year old Gary Guidry were found dead by a roommate Tuesday morning. No other details about the suspect or exactly what happened are being released at this time. It's being reported the brothers had just moved into the home they shared with four other people.
It has been a long time coming, over 15 years, but today the doors officially open to the new Jena Choctaw Pines Casino. The casino on highway 167 in Grant Parish will be the third Native American-Owned casino in the state and will offer more than 700 gaming devices, a poker room, buffet and sports bar.
Members of the Pineville city council were told last night, that it may be time to consider the sale of alcohol within the city limits. City auditor Mark McKay gave the city a clean audit report, but he noted that the numbers clearly indicate Pineville is moving into the red more each year with its budget. McKay's report covered the year ending June 30, 2012. He found no compliance or internal control problems in the audit. What he did find, however, was losses. According to McKay, the city’s sanitation fund has lost over $100,000 a year for the past 5 years. The airport lost $95,000. McKay said the city’s sales tax base is stagnate and until the city has alcohol sales there will be no national restaurant chains, other than fast food companies. McKay went on to tell the council, he was not sure the city is ever going to be able to grow the downtown or the riverfront without alcohol sales."
A Haughton lawmaker has pre-filed a bill that would require court clerks to report information about mentally ill citizens to state police and the FBI -- so they are not able to purchase a gun. Representative Henry Burns says state and local officials would have 30 days to report when a Louisiana resident has been deemed mentally ill.
A settlement has been reached in the wrongful termination suit filed by coastal researcher Ivor Van Heerden against LSU. Terms of the deal have yet to be released. Van Heerden claims he lost his job
because he was outspoken about his criticism of the US Army Corps of Engineers for how they designed the levees that failed during Hurricane Katrina.
A new report just released by the federal government show Louisiana has the second-lowest public high school graduation rate in the nation for special education students. The 29% rate in Louisiana is only lower than Mississippi and Nevada, which both have a rate of 23%. South Dakota is tops in the nation at 84 percent. The national average is 58 percent.
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's officials say a Dallas man is under arrest for filing a fake complaint with authorities in November alleging he was robbed of several thousand dollar’s worth of valuable coins and currency. During the course of the investigation deputies discovered that the alleged victim, 64-year-old Burton Paul Dupuy, had staged the home invasion which, was actually at his parents’ house, where he knew there was about $350,000 worth in a safe. Apparently Dupuy admitted to authorities he has a gambling problem.
Shreveport Police say they stormed into a house Monday night to prevent a local man from setting it on fire, with his grandmother inside. Officers say the man was caught trying to start a fire with a propane burner and a blanket. He was shot with a non-lethal device; a bean-bag gun, and taken into custody. The elderly woman was treated at a nearby hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
A state judge is expected to rule tomorrow on whether the Thibodaux man accused of beheading his disabled son in 2011 is mentally fit to stand trial. Judge John LeBlanc has heard over 6 days of testimony in the case of Jeremiah Wright, who allegedly dismembered the child while his mother was away. The ruling is on whether Wright is sane enough to assist in his own defense, NOT whether he was sane when he committed the act.
Another check on the fuel gauge report from the American Automobile Association. The current average statewide for a gallon of regular gas is $3.40. A month ago we were paying $3.22.
The town of Homer in Claiborne Parish voted on Monday to disband its police force. The town council moved to get rid of its 10 member police department, including the chief, effective March 1.
The Delta Regional Authority announces they will invest 210-thousand dollars towards northeast Louisiana's workforce training and development efforts. The authority's co-chairman says this
investment will give workers a chance to develop new skills to get good paying jobs.
News for Tuesday 021213
By Dave Graichen
It's Mardi Gras Day, but revelers will have to celebrate in the rain. State Climatologist Barry Keim says it's a near certainty the entire state will see rain today. Flood watches and warnings are posted throughout southeast Louisiana and along the Mississippi Delta.
Mardi Gras in rural Southwestern Louisiana draws traditions that are centuries old, and not your average "New Orleans" style parade. Eunice Chamber of Commerce Executive Dire Francine Hughes says the Courir de Mardi Gras dates back to when the town was first established in the late 19th century. And yes.. the events today will go on rain or shine. Other Courir de Mardi Gras events will be held today in Ville Platte, Mamou and several other towns across the Cajun Prairie .
They may be one of the smallest federally recognized tribes in the US, but, you couldn’t tell that by all the excitement surrounding the opening of the new Jena Choctaw Pines Casino. Media day is today with the opening to the general public tomorrow morning at 10. The 46,000-square-foot Class 2 casino will offer more than 700 gaming devices, poker tables and a sports bar, as well as entertainment and dining options. The Casino is located on U.S. Highway 167 between Tioga and Prospect, in the speed trap known as Creola.
Louisiana's top court next month will hear the state's appeal of a Baton Rouge judge's ruling that Louisiana's expanded voucher program unconstitutionally diverts public funds to private and parochial schools. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to entertain oral arguments March 19 in New Orleans.
A truck accident yesterday forced the closure of the North Mac Arthur drive exits on and off of I-49 for about three hours yesterday morning. An 18 wheeler hit and then jumped the guard rail. The driver, 30 year old Charles Jones, received moderate injuries in the crash and was cited for failure to maintain control.
Louisiana ranks 38th in the nation for its 4 percent sales tax, according to a report released Monday by the Tax Foundation. But the state has among the highest average sales tax rates charged by local governments. That gives Louisiana the third highest combined local and state sales tax rates in 2013 at 8.87 percent, or nearly 9 cents on every $1 in sales, according to “State and Local Sales Tax Rates in 2013,” published Monday by the Tax Foundation. State taxes could double under a plan by the governor to eliminate the state income and corporate income taxes.
President Obama delivers his first state of the union address tonight since winning a second term in office. Obama's first term nearly ended with the nation going over the so-called fiscal-cliff. LSU Political
Science Professor Robert Hogan says taxes and spending along with immigration and gun control will be the main topics. Hogan says the President will also have to address the looming March
first deadline for across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs. Live coverage tonight starting at 8p on 970 KSYL.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's office says one man was killed and another hospitalized after a homemade bomb went off in the Pearl River area. The exact composition of the explosives used has not yet been determined. They say both victims were in their 20s.
Gas prices keep on climbing. The current statewide average for a gallon of regular today is $3.39. That's up a nickel from this time last week.
The Lafayette Police Department is investigating the case of a bizarre shooting that left a 15-year-old dead and two other 15-year-olds in the hospital suffering gunshot wounds. Corporal Paul
Mouton says 18-yaer-old Seth Fontenot of Lafayette was charged with first degree murder and 2 counts of attempted first degree murder. Mouton says they are not releasing a possible motive just yet.
The New Orleans Saints are getting mixed reviews on the hiring of Rob Ryan as their new defensive coordinator. Ryan was fired from the Dallas Cowboys staff at the end of last season for the teams
poor performance. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says Ryan is known for being brash and cocky. Ryan believes in an attacking style of defense, says Detillier, much like former Saints defensive
coordinator Greg Williams.
News for Monday 021113
By Dave Graichen
The weather was not in the mood to cooperate yesterday for the Alexandria Mardi Gras parade. The parade was moved up to 10 in the morning to avoid the forecasted heavy rain and strong winds. But, the rain made it appearance shortly after the parade began. Many of the bands and dance groups decided against taking the chance, as did many fans. Organizers say the crowds were down significantly. Parades scheduled around the area today and fat Tuesday could suffer the same fate, since rain is in the forecast thru tomorrow.
Austin Dean, 21, of Pineville, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, after an altercation over the weekend at a Lecompte bar that left an Alexandria man dead. Dean faces charges in the death of 19 year old Nicholas Griffin. It’s believe the incident grew out of a fight in the bar’s parking lot. Other details are forthcoming.
Governor Jindal's approval rating is below 50-percent. That's according to a survey paid for by the Louisiana State Medical Society. The poll of 600 Louisiana voters resulted in a 46-percent approval rating. The poll also shows voters disagree with the governor's refusal to expand the Medicaid program in the state. The expansion of Medicaid is part of the new federal health care law. 51-percent of the poll's
respondents say Louisiana should participate in the Medicaid expansion.
A Slidell lawmaker files legislation to ban a dangerous hallucinogenic designer drug called "25-I", and others like it. Rep. Kevin Pearson says 25-I was linked to at least one death, and three persons made sick, at last Fall's Voodoo Fest in New Orleans. "25-I" is often sold in an eye dropper bottle, but is also frequently put on blotter paper and sold as LSD to unsuspecting drug users. Governor Jindal has issued a ban of the substance by executive order, but Pearson says it needs to have the weight of state statute.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says the decision of Farmers Insurance to leave Louisiana shouldn't alarm the company's 23-thousand customers in the Bayou State. Farmers announced they were pulling out last week. Donelon says competitors are waiting in the wings to cover those homes and businesses. Farmers will start sending non-renewal letters this Spring, and Donelon has this advice to the company's customers, start shopping now..
Entergy says they figured out the cause of the infamous 34-minute power outage during the Super Bowl. The utility company says it was a faulty electrical relay device. CEO of Entergy New Orleans Charles Rice appeared before the New Orleans City Council to provide more details. Rice says the faulty device was removed and they are looking into purchasing new equipment.
Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson is facing three counts of malfeasance in office. Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown did not go into specifics. But state legislative auditor Daryl Purpera says his office has not been able to complete an audit on the town's books since 2007, because they are so disorganized. Purpera says state law requires all towns to perform an annual audit on their finances. Purpera says there's no evidence Mayor Thompson stole money, but he says it's difficult to tell based on the town's financial record keeping.
Better pull up your pants in Grambling, because now you can be fined if they sag. Police Chief Tommy Clark says they're tightening the dress code in order to maintain the town's image of being clean and desirable. He says saggy pants are already restricted in Grambling University's handbook, but non-compliance caused the city to get involved. Clark says the first offense is a maximum of a $150 fine, 15 days in jail or 24 hours community service. He says second offense could be as much as $250 and the third is no more than $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
Senator Mary Landrieu is recommending New Orleans attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr for the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana position. Jim Letten stepped down from the post in December amid an online scandal involving two of his top prosecutors.
News for Thursday 020713
By Dave Graichen
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Johnny “Red” Robertson, who led Ferriday High to four state championships and a state record 54-game streak without a loss, died Tuesday in his adopted hometown of Ferriday. Visitation will be held Thursday from 5-8 p.m. at Ferriday First Baptist Church and funeral services are slated for Friday at 2 p.m. Red Robertson was 88.
Louisianans will soon be getting no mail on Saturdays, as the Post Office announces its latest cost-cutting measure. U.S. Postal Service spokesman John Friess (freeze) says the decision to eliminate Saturday letter delivery was all about dollars and cents. Friess says the USPS will save about $2-billion by ending Saturday delivery. However, the Post Office will continue to deliver packages and express mail 6 days a week. The delivery cutback goes into effect in early August.
A Bossier City lawmaker pre-files a bill for the Spring legislative session to protect the privacy of concealed carry weapon permit holders. Rep. Jeff Thompson says the names and addresses of the CCP holders are confidential, and his bill would help assure they stay that way. Last month, a New York newspaper published a list of gun owners and CCP holders, which led to several being burglarized and their guns stolen. Thompson says such information in Louisiana is not subject to public information requests, and his bill would make in unlawful to release it.
A Tioga High School teacher facing 11 sex crime charges resigned Tuesday from the Rapides Parish School District. 27 year old Heather Michelle Cooksey, an English teacher, was arrested on Dec. 19 on charges that the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office said arose from a sexual relationship with a student. She again was arrested Jan. 22 on nine additional charges. Cooksey is free on a $35,000 bond.
Two lawmakers want to open more of the Louisiana Governor’s Office to scrutiny, proposing a bill that would limit the expansive public records exemption used by Gov. Bobby Jindal to hide nearly all documents in his office. State Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, and state Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, filed the measure this week to be considered in the legislative session that begins in April. Under existing law, most of the documents and emails in the Governor’s Office are shielded from public view, with a broad exemption that hides anything considered part of the governor’s “deliberative process.” The argument is that internal decision-making is protected to allow for the free flow of ideas.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's office is now involved in trying to find the person responsible for the dog fight shown in a disturbing video that went viral on Facebook yesterday. An animal organization in Hammond first learned of the post and used social media to spread their outrage. Authorities say they really don't know much at this point, and any help from the public is appreciated.
The Tax Man Cometh. Governor Jindal's proposal to eliminate state income taxes could mean paying higher sales taxes on most items, but also paying taxes and fees where they've never been charged before. That could include landscaping, cable TV, marina services and other services that are currently tax and fee free. The Governor says his plan to rewrite the tax code will be "revenue neutral".
State officials Wednesday announced that they are soliciting bids from school districts and others for pilot projects to overhaul pre-kindergarten classes in Louisiana. The changes stem from a 2012 state law, which assigned details of the do-over to the state Department of Education and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The new setup is aimed at revamping what critics call a pre-kindergarten system that features uneven quality, standards and availability. The rate of children entering kindergarten ready to learn is 54 percent. State officials hope to get that number to 70 percent.
The lawyer for the Charenton man who went off the deep end January 26th and killed a cop and another man has asked for a sanity hearing for his client. He says Wilbert Thibodeaux "exhibited bizarre behavior" before the shootings that also wounded two St. Mary Parish deputies.
A Lafourche Parish judge says he will rule today whether or not the Thibodeaux man accused of beheading his disabled son is competent for trial. The judge says the question is whether 31-year-old Jeremiah Wright can help his attorneys during the trial. The man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 7-year-old Jori Lirette whose head was left in the yard of the house where he lived with his mother.
Shreveport Police say a 1-year-old child is left with serious injuries after being involved in an alleged drag race. They say two drivers in separate cars were drag racing when one of them crashed into a pickup truck, seriously injuring the female driver and critically injuring the infant. Police found no car seat in the pickup, and the child was not restrained.
For the fatal crash last year that left an 83-year-old Abbeville man dead a Vermillion Parish grand jury has charged Maurice police officer, Willis Thomas, with negligent homicide. Thomas was responding to a call with his emergency lights and siren on when a car driven by Paul Suire pulled from a side street onto Hwy.167 and was struck by the patrol car.
The state Department of Insurance is investigating claims that some residents near the huge sinkhole in Assumption Parish, who evacuated their homes moths ago, are getting letters of non-renewal from their homeowners insurance. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says his agents are looking into those claims.
The Mayor of Baton Rouge has abruptly fired the city's Chief of Police, amid spiraling violent crime in the Capitol City. Mayor Kip Holden's office notified Chief Dwayne White of his termination reportedly by letter. No word on an interim chief as yet.
LSU's 2013 recruiting class is receiving great reviews. Rivals.com ranks the Tigers class as the 5th best in the nation, 24-7 sports and ESPN.com have LSU's class as the 7th best. Coach Les Miles is very excited about the 27 new players that are joining the program.
News for Wednesday 020613
By Dave Graichen
State Police are investigating the Hit & Run death of a pedestrian Monday night in Pineville, who was struck by at least two vehicles--possibly three. Trooper Scott Moreau says 30-year-old Sonnie Thompson was hit while walking along Highway 116. He says evidence indicates she was killed by the first vehicle, but also hit by other motorists...who all kept going. A fourth driver stopped and called authorities.
Rapides Parish deputies arrest two teenage girls for making e-mailed threats against students and teachers at Tioga High school. Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Tommy Carnline says school officials called them about the threats last week. Carnline says Jessica Winslow and Ti'jeanae (TIE-jen-ay) Harris, both 17, were arrested without incident after an investigation traced the threatening messages to them. He says they each face ten counts of terrorizing, and no bond has been set as yet.
Pineville PD reports an Alexandria couple has been charged in connection with the theft last month of $18,000 in jewelry the Kmart store in Pineville. 22 year old Ancranette Sword and 45 year old Bobby West were charged with felony theft. They were booked at the Rapides Parish Detention Center where they are awaiting bond.
Alexandria City Council voted Tuesday to remove Michael Ziegler from the Board of Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority and replace him with Michael Caffery. Alexandria mayor Roy was not happy with the way the matter was handled and accused dist. 3 councilman Jules Green of “good ol’ boyism, after the councilman made the move to replace Ziegler with Caffery, his former campaign manager. Caffery was appointed to the GAEDA board by Green and confirmed Tuesday by a unanimous vote.
LSU Agricultural Center Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil was named Tuesday as interim chancellor of LSU’s Alexandria campus. He will fill the position for eight months starting March 1.Current LSU-A Chancellor David Manuel is expected to leave the university in May to become president of Drury University in Springfield, Mo.
The A.P.D.. reports A 24-year-old Alexandria man died Monday night when his car hit a tree on Enterprise Road. Alexandria police responded to the 11:10 p.m. crash in the 1700 block of Enterprise. There they found A 1989 Mercury driven by Charles Carter had run off the road, hit a mailbox and then a tree near the intersection of Paris Street. An autopsy and toxicology tests are being done.
Governor Jindal has released few details of how his proposal to raise sales taxes and do away with income taxes will work. One part would, reportedly, include a one-dollar per pack tax on cigarettes.
The legislature starts its regular session April 8th, and anti-tobacco lobbyists will surely be there to push for a higher cigarette tax, and to see that it's dedicated to smoking cessation and prevention programs, or at least to the health care budget.
Louisiana State Police say the driver of an SUV who crashed head-on into a school bus this morning in Pointe Coupee Parish has died. Trooper Jared Sandifer says fog could have been a factor in the
early morning crash, which is now under investigation. 38-year-old Jody Harris, of Ventress, died from her injuries. The bus driver and the nine kids aboard received only minor injuries.
While the exact cause of the 34 minute "Super Blackout" remains under investigation, it looks like a public record shows Mercedez Benz Superdome officials were told last season by The Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District who released an October 15th memo Monday saying tests to the dome's electrical feeders "showed some decay and a chance of failure. Entergy representatives are expected at an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the outage and provide additional information as to what exactly happened.
The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Jindal Administration to stop the execution of Christopher Sepulvado because the lethal injection is scheduled for Ash Wednedsay. The Governor reportedly has no plans to intervene. The Desoto Parish Man is scheduled to die for beating and scalding his 6-year-old stepson two decades ago.
A new license plate in honor of the state's timber industry is now available. The Louisiana Forestry Association designed the plate, that you can buy at the Office of Motor Vehicles. A portion of the proceeds will go to the forestry division of the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
A Shreveport man suspected of two home invasions and some other robberies is behind bars. Police say 41-year-old Anthony McDonald allegedly invaded two homes, and tried to rob a couple at a bus stop. He's also accused of car theft. All four of those crimes happened on January 28th, and all victims gave a description matching McDonald.. He now faces a list of charges.
Acadia Parish Deputies say somebody broke into the Crowley High school Ag Farm late last month and killed a prize show pig. The perpetrator also cut three other animals. Deputies says the act was not only cruel and senseless, it also cost the owners potential sales at the livestock show. There's a $1000 cash reward for information that helps catch the bad guy.
News for Tuesday 020513
By Dave Graichen
The Superintendent of Louisiana State Police believes local law enforcement in The Bayou State is ready if there was an active shooter situation in one of our schools. Col Mike Edmonson says
there are over 19-hundred schools in Louisiana and there are plans in place with local law enforcement if a gunman enters a school. He says there's great cooperation, which will be a huge benefit in the
time of a crisis.
On that note, Students yesterday afternoon alerted faculty to a fifth-grader who was showing off a revolver in his backpack at Horseshoe Drive Elementary School. The weapon was found by the school resource officer and the student was taken into the custody. The officer reported The .22 caliber revolver was not loaded, and no ammunition was found.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recapped his thoughts on the Super Bowl Monday morning and indicted the power outage would have no effect on New Orleans' chance to host another Championship game. He says the incident was unfortunate and they are still investigating the exact reason half the lights went out in the Superdome in the third quarter. Gooddell said the city of New Orleans did a spectacular job hosting the big game.
However, An article in Forbes magazine is suggesting that New Orleans not be allowed to host another Super Bowl until it replaces what it calls the "outdated" Superdome.
You've probably noticed by now the big recent spike in gas prices. The American Automobile Association says the current statewide average for a gallon of regular is $3.34 cents which is about 15 cents higher than it was at the start of the year.
State health officials say they've seen a drop-off in the number of flu cases. After the holidays, there were reports doctor offices were flooded with people suffering from flu-like symptoms. But Department of Health and Hospitals Immunization Director, Dr. Frank Welch, says a public awareness campaign to fight the flu bug has helped. Welch says the state is still reporting widespread flu cases, but influenza activity has been declining.
Governor Bobby Jindal's office says a Houston based company, "Genesis Energy" is expanding its operations in Baton Rouge and plans to build a pipeline that will connect to the Exxon plant. They
say the planned expansion will create 50 new jobs with an average of $80,000 a year plus benefits.
Detectives from the Rapides parish sheriff’s office report when they arrived at a Sieper residence to serve warrants on, they found 20 year old Walter Benoit watching child pornography on his computer. Benoit was already wanted on warrants for indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery. He can now add a few charges to that list. Benoit was arrested and charged with two counts of pornography involving juveniles and for the warrants - one count of indecent behavior with juveniles and two counts of sexual battery. Benoit was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.
Baton Rouge businessman Jim Bernhard is apparently a top contender to replace Steven Chu as the country's next Energy Secretary. Bernhard is CEO of the Shaw Group, a Fortune 500 company
headquartered in the Capitol City. Northeastern Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander says Bernhard has proven leadership skills, and can develop ideas for making America energy independent. Alexander hopes President Obama will give Bernhard serious consideration for the Cabinet Post.
Police in Monroe are looking for the person responsible for hitting and killing a pedestrian late Saturday night. They say witnesses saw a white Mitsubishi Galant with white tinted windows struck a man and
flee the scene. The victim was pronounced dead from his injuries at a local hospital.
The Livingston Parish man accused of brutally attacking his pregnant wife and killing their unborn child had his bond revoked in court today. Jeffrey Reynolds, of Walker says he was under the influence
of illegal "bath salts" last October, when he attacked his wife. She survived the attack, the baby
The Oscar-Winning Team at Shreveport's Moonbot Studios now says they're working on a new project: a video game. Founders Williams Joyce and Branden Olendenburg says the game "Golem" needs pledges of $750,000 by March 26th to be funded.
News for Monday 020413
By Dave Graichen
State police report 47-year-old Kenneth M. Aymond was killed over the weekend when he apparently lost control of his pickup truck on highway 29 in Avoyelles parish, ran off the road and hit a culvert before overturning. Aymond was pronounced dead at the scene.
Visitation for former businessman and Opus broadcasting general manager Kim Jones will be today at Calvary Baptist church in Alexandria from 2 to 4pm and 5 to 7pm and again tomorrow from 5pm until the time of services at 6pm. Jones passed away last Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Kim Jones was 54.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says the state is looming on the edge of yet another financial crisis. Kennedy says the Capital Outlay Fund is near its debt limit with no room to borrow more for rural road improvements, college facility upkeep and other important building projects. He says the fund could be exhausted within the next four months. The Governor's Office points at Kennedy, saying he indicated they had more borrowing headroom than they actually had. Kennedy says, yes, but he gave them that information before state revenues were revised downward last Fall.
The Ravens were rolling, Beyoncé had just put on a stunning halftime show and then the unprecedented happened: The lights went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII. Usually a beacon on the New Orleans skyline, the Superdome was bathed in darkness when the majority of lights flickered out at 7:36 p.m. The power was off inside the stadium for 34 minutes. The lights started to come back on at 8:02 p.m. and play resumed at 8:10 p.m. The exterior lights flickered on at about 8:20 p.m. and the Superdome took back its place in the New Orleans skyline. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement issued Sunday night. ”In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved.
Now that the Super Bowl is over, the rush at the New Orleans International Airport is on. Spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut says all flights are completely booked today. She says they’re anticipating about 42,000 passengers today.
The first black chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court has been sworn into office. Bernette Johnson replaces the first female justice--Kitty Kimball--who retired last month after four years in the position. Johnson has been sitting on the high court since 1994 and served ten years as a district court judge before being elected to the supreme court.
Cuts to some health care services, brought about by a mid-year revenue shortfall, have kicked in - affecting low-income mothers, at-risk kids and others. State Health & Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein says the cuts are regrettable, but necessary. He says they planned for the lowest negative impacts possible.
A Tangipahoa Parish man is being held without bond today in the parish prison on charges of aggravated rape of children. Authorities say when they served a search warrant on the home of 50-year old Robert Eugene Swan they found child pornography on his computer which indicated he was also manufacturing and distributing child porn. They also say they found video evidence of Swan having sex with children as young as 10 and possible one year old.
The LSU Board of Supervisors has approved a two year extension of head football coach Les Miles' contract that keeps him connected to the university through the 2019 season. Miles annual salary went from just over three and a quarter million dollars to 4.3 million. Athletic Director Joe Alleva told the board Miles hadn't had a raise in five years, even though he deserved one.
LSU officials are sticking with their timetable of having a new university president signed, sealed and delivered within the next four months. LSU had a "short list" of about 30 candidates, but those names aren't being released or even guessed at right now and we probably won't know until a finalist or finalists are agreed upon.
A Baton Rouge businessman is in the running to be the next Secretary of Energy. WBRZ TV in Baton Rouge, is reporting Jim Bernard--founder of the Shaw Group--confirmed to them he is one of the candidates being considered. Bernard recently sold the world wide construction firm to a Texas company for some three billion dollars.
Authorities say 48-year old Thomas Allen the Third of Baton Rouge was driving with a blood alcohol content of three times the normal level when his car slammed head on into another car, killing 10-year old Bionna Scott. He's been charged with vehicular homicide, second offense DWI, reckless operation and driving with a suspended license.
Confessed killer Brandon Scott Lavergne, who's serving life for the murders of Lisa Pate in 1999 and Mickey Shunick last year, is asking a judge to release to him the names of grand jury witnesses who testified against him and the transcript of a secretly recorded meeting with his ex-wife. In December, he requested his conviction be tossed out, saying his court-appointed lawyers made critical defense errors. Lavergne pleaded guilty to the two murders last August, in order to avoid getting a death sentence.
Seafood expert, oyster distributor and state Wildlife & Fisheries Commission member Mike Voisin (vwah-zan) has passed away. Voisin died Saturday, about a week after suffering a massive heart attack. Wildlife & Fisheries Secretary Bob Barham says he was a fierce advocate for the seafood industry, but always a gentleman...:
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