KSYL Local News

NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 05/18/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 051811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL HAS GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO MAYOR JACQUES COMPROMISE BUDGET THAT WAS INTRODUCED EARLIER IN THE WEEK. UNDER THE PLAN RESIDENTS WOULD PAY AN ADDITIONAL 25 CENTS TO RIDE A CITY BUS AND ADMISSION WOULD RAISE BY $2.50 PER PERSON AT THE ZOO. THE COST TO REMOVE GARBAGE AND STORM WATER WILL ALSO INCREASE TO THE TUNE OF $1 PER MONTH FOR EACH UTILITY CUSTOMER. THE NEW FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF MAY.

H.I.P. HAS BEEN GIVEN ANOTHER EXTENSION TO COMPLETE IT’S DEAL TO PURCHASE TWO DOWN TOWN ALEXANDRIA HOTELS. MAYOR JACQUES ROY IS GIVING GROUP UNTIL THE END OF JULY TO COMPLETE A DEAL THAT WOULD LOOK SIMILAR TO, BUT NOT NEARLY AS COMPLEX AS, THE ONE HOSPITALITY INITIATIVES PARTNERSHIP SOLD TO THE CITY NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO. THE MAYOR SAID THE LATEST EXTENSION WILL EXPIRE AT THE END OF JULY.

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WILL CONDUCT HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAY FROM 9 A.M. TO 1 P.M. SATURDAY AT THE CITY COMPLEX, 2021 INDUSTRIAL PARKWAY IN ALEXANDRIA. HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE IS ANY PRODUCT LABELED TOXIC, POISON, CORROSIVE, FLAMMABLE, COMBUSTIBLE OR IRRITANT THAT IS TO BE DISPOSED OF. A COMPLETE LIST IS AVAILABLE AT KSYL.COM.

THE LATEST DATA SHOWS THAT FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, THE BATON ROUGE METROPOLITAN AREA RANKED SECOND IN THE NATION IN THE RATE OF AIDS CASES.
ACCORDING TO 2009 DATA RELEASED RECENTLY BY THE FEDERAL CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, THE RATE IS 30.6, WHICH MEANS 30.6 PER EVERY 100,000 PEOPLE IN THE BATON ROUGE METRO AREA HAVE ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME. THE RANK FOR THE NEW ORLEANS METROPOLITAN AREA IS 23. THE HIV RATE FOR BLACKS IN LOUISIANA CONTINUES TO BE HIGH — 75 PERCENT OF NEWLY DIAGNOSED HIV CASES AND 76 PERCENT OF NEWLY DIAGNOSED AIDS CASES IN 2009 WERE AMONG BLACKS.

SHIPPING ALREADY CURTAILED BECAUSE OF FLOODING THAT IS PLAGUING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WAS HALTED FOR MUCH OF TUESDAY WHEN OFFICIALS CLOSED THE WATERWAY NORTH OF NEW ORLEANS IN THE LATEST TOUGH DECISION TO TRY TO REDUCE PRESSURE ON LEVEES PROTECTING CITIES AND TOWNS. BY LATE IN THE DAY, BARGES THAT HAUL COAL, TIMBER, IRON, STEEL AND MORE THAN HALF OF AMERICA'S GRAIN EXPORTS WERE ALLOWED TO PASS, BUT AT THE SLOWEST POSSIBLE SPEED. SUCH INTERRUPTIONS COULD COST THE U.S. ECONOMY HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR EACH DAY THE BARGES ARE IDLED, AS THE TOLL FROM THE WEEKS-LONG FLOODING FROM ARKANSAS TO LOUISIANA CONTINUES TO MOUNT. OFFICIALS ALONG A 15-MILE STRETCH AT NATCHEZ, MISS., BLOCKED VESSELS HEADING TOWARD THE GULF OF MEXICO AND OTHERS TRYING TO RETURN NORTH AFTER DROPPING OFF THEIR FREIGHT.

A BILL PROPOSING A BAN ON USING HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING IS DEFEATED IN THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. BILL AUTHOR AUSTIN BADON, OF NEW ORLEANS, SAYS HIS BILL WOULD MANDATE USE OF A HANDS-FREE DEVICE, LIKE A BLUETOOTH OR SPEAKER PHONE, WHILE DRIVING. HE SAYS RESTRICTING HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY. OPPOSING THE MEASURE, REP. JEFF ARNOLD, ALSO OF NEW ORLEANS, WHO SAYS THE STATE CANNOT LEGISLATE COMMON SENSE, AND IF PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ON PHONES WHILE DRIVING, THEY WILL. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 8-5 TO REJECT BADON'S BILL. BADON VOWS TO KEEP TRYING 'TIL HE GETS IT PASSED.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IS UPSET THAT THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HAS CUT NONESSENTIAL SPENDING ACROSS STATE AGENCIES AND RAIDED A STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. LAWMAKERS STRIPPED OUT ALL CONTINGENT DOLLARS PROPOSED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL, INCLUDING MONEY FROM A PROPOSED PRISON SALE AND FROM REROUTING TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DOLLARS TO THE STATE'S TOPS TUITION PROGRAM. THE COMMITTEE USED 82-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT "MEGA-FUND" TO COVER THE GAP.
THE 2011-12 BUDGET HEADS TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE NEXT WEEK.

THE FULL HOUSE PASSES A BILL THAT REQUIRES SOME STATE WELFARE CASH RECIPIENTS TO UNDERGO DRUG TESTS. ON THE FLOOR, METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO TELLS MEMBERS HIS BILL WOULD TEST A RANDOM 20% OF APPLICANTS FOR FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM DOLLARS. OPPOSING MEMBERS CHALLENGED THE BILL'S CONSTITUTIONALITY, CALLED IT UNFAIR TO THE POOR AND QUESTIONED WHY NOT DRUG TEST THOSE WHO RECEIVE MILLIONS IN STATE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES. IN THE END , IT PASSED BY A 65-26 VOTE AND WILL NOW BE SENT TO THE SENATE. THIS SAME BILL PASSED THE HOUSE LAST YEAR, BUT WAS KILLED IN THE SENATE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE LATEST FLOOD FORECAST FOR NORTH LOUISIANA ARE IMPROVING. JINDAL SAYS ACCORDING TO THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS THEY ANTICIPATE LESS BACK-FLOODING IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE STATE. HOWEVER, JINDAL SAYS THE THREAT OF SIGNIFICANT FLOODING IN CAJUN COUNTRY CONTINUES. HE SAYS 33-HUNDRED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EVACUATED. THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS NOW HAS 15 OF THE 125 BAYS AT THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN TO FUNNEL MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN.

GOVERNOR JINDAL IS (ALSO) WARNING RESIDENTS TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WILDLIFE FLEEING FLOODWATERS. THE GOVERNOR SAID BEARS HAVE BEEN SEEN IN SOME AREAS, AND REPORTS OF SNAKES MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND ARE COMMON. THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT HAS ORDERED MORE SUPPLIES OF ANTIVENIN FOR USE BY HOSPITALS AND CLINICS DURING THE EMERGENCY. RESIDENTS HAVE ALSO WITNESSED DEER AND COYOTES ON THE LEVEES LOOKING FOR SHELTER ON HIGHER GROUND.

THE RISING MISSISSIPPI RIVER HAS FORCED THE COAST GUARD TO CLOSE A PORTION OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO ALL BOAT TRAFFIC AT THE PORT IN NATCHEZ. THE COAST GUARD SAYS THIS IS A PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE. IF THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI IS CLOSED TO RIVER TRAFFIC FOR DAYS OR WEEKS, IT COULD COST THE US ECONOMY HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A DAY. THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT NATCHEZ IS EXPECTED TO CREST AT 63 FEET ON SATURDAY. OFFICIALS SAY IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY HOW LONG THE RIVER WILL BE CLOSED TO TRAFFIC.

VIDALIA MAYOR HYRAM COPELAND SAYS AN OLD DRAIN BELOW THE CITY'S RIVERFRONT DEVELOPMENT BLEW OUT AND BRIEFLY SENT WATER TUNNELING UNDER THE BARRIERS PROTECTING THE CONVENTION CENTER. THE LEAK HAS BEEN CONTAINED. OFFICIALS HAVE BUILT WALLS OF HESCO BASKETS AROUND EACH OF FOUR RIVERFRONT BUILDINGS AND TWO CITY WATER WELLS ON THE FLOODED RIVERFRONT. PUMPS WITHIN EACH WALL WILL REMOVE SEEPAGE. COPELAND SAYS THERE'LL BE MORE SEEPAGE AS THE RIVER RISES, BUT THE PUMPS CAN HANDLE IT.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE APPROVED A BILL BY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN HUNTER GREEN OF BATON ROUGE THAT WOULD ELIMINATE INCOME TAXES IN THE STATE. GREEN BELIEVES THIS WOULD BE A GOOD WAY TO CHANGE HOW THINGS ARE DONE IN STATE GOVERNMENT AND IMPROVE THE ECONOMY. GREG ALBRECHT, CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR THE LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE, SAYS ELIMINATING STATE INCOME TAXES WOULD REDUCE STATE REVENUE BY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND MAKE PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE AND HIGHER EDUCATION EVEN HARDER.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO HEAR LEGISLATION TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE ABORTIONS IN LOUISIANA ILLEGAL. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO WHO SAYS IT'S JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE LOUISIANA BANS ABORTIONS. LABRUZZO'S LEGISLATION DOES NOT ALLOW AN EXCEPTION FOR RAPE OR INCEST. HE SAYS, UNDER THE BILL, A DOCTOR WHO KNOWINGLY PERFORMS AN ABORTION COULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES OF FETICIDE. HE BELIEVES THE BILL WOULD HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNOR. PLANNED PARENTHOOD SPOKESPERSON JULIE MICKLEBERRY SAYS THIS BILL THREATENS THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WOMEN IN THE STATE.

SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX'S BILL BANNING SMOKING IN BARS THAT SERVE FOOD IS ON THE SCHEDULE TODAY IN THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. CHRIS YOUNG, A LOBBYIST FOR LOUISIANA BAR OWNERS, SAYS THE BILL IS SIMPLY MORE GOVERNMENT INTRUSION INTO PRIVATE BUSINESS. YOUNG FEELS THE CURRENT SMOKE FREE AIR ACT SHOULD BE AMENDED TO EXEMPT RESTAURANTS. CARRIE BROUSSARD, WITH THE LOUISIANA CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO FREE LIVING, SAYS THE ISSUE IS PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM THE HAZARDS OF SECOND HAND SMOKE.

A SAD END TO WHAT APPEARS TO BE A DOMESTIC DISPUTE. A PIERRE PART MAN SHOT AND KILLED HIS EX-GIRLFRIEND AT A POPULAR ASSUMPTION PARISH EATERY.. IT HAPPENED AT LANDRY'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT. WITNESSES SAY THE MAN ARGUING WITH A WOMAN, SUDDENLY PULLED A GUN. HE THEN SHOT AND KILLED THE WOMAN. A CUSTOMER, WHO IS LICENSED TO CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON, OPENED FIRE ON THE MAN. THE GUN BATTLE WENT OUTSIDE, WHERE THE MAN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. THE PATRON TOOK A BULLET AND IS BEING TREATED AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

THE SEARCH FOR AN INTERIM LOUISIANA EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT HAS SLOWED AS THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD REMAINS DIVIDED OVER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S CHOICE FOR THE JOB. PENNY DASTUGUE, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, HAD SAID SHE HOPED THE BOARD COULD NAME AN INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT THIS WEEK. BUT ON MONDAY, DASTUGUE TOLD THE ADVOCATE THAT WAS LESS LIKELY BECAUSE THE BOARD HADN'T REACHED A CONSENSUS. ANY SELECTION REQUIRES THE SUPPORT OF AT LEAST EIGHT OF BESE'S 11 MEMBERS. THE JOB IS OPEN BECAUSE PAUL PASTOREK RESIGNED LAST WEEK. JINDAL SUPPORTS JOHN WHITE, WHO IS THE NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, TO ALSO SERVE AS INTERIM STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION. DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TYLER IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.


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