KSYL Local News

News For Friday 05/20/11


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 052011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER ALMOST 11 YEARS AS ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WANDA DAVIS IS OUT. ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF THE AHA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS VOTED TO FIRE DAVIS YESTERDAY. DAVIS WAS THEN ESCORTED OUT OF THE BUILDING. DAVIS HAD HELD THE POSITION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SINCE THE SUMMER OF 2000, BUT HAD WORKED FOR HOUSING AUTHORITY SINCE 1984. DAVIS WILL BE PAID FOR THE NEXT 60 DAYS, BUT IS BARRED FROM AHA PROPERTY AND COMPUTERS. HOWEVER, SHE WILL BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TODAY, UNDER GUARD, TO RETRIEVE PERSONAL BELONGINGS. DAVIS INDICATED SHE WOULD FIGHT HER TERMINATION. SHE REQUESTED A "NAME-CLEARING" HEARING WITHIN 10 DAYS AND REFUSED TO SIGN THE TERMINATION LETTER.

A 15-YEAR-OLD BOY IS FACING A NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE CHARGE IN THE DEATH OF A 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO DIED WEDNESDAY FROM INJURIES SUFFERED WHEN HE WAS SET ON FIRE. THE RPSO IS NOT RELEASING THE NAMES OF THE VICTIM AND THE SUSPECT AT THIS TIME. A SPOKES PERSON SAYS, ON SUNDAY, THREE BOYS WERE PLAYING WITH GASOLINE WHEN APPARENTLY SOME SPILLED ON THE 16-YEAR-OLD BOY. IT’S BELIEVED THE 15-YEAR-OLD BEGAN TAUNTING THE 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WITH A CIGARETTE LIGHTER, ACCIDENTALLY SETTING HIM ABLAZE. THE BOY SUFFERED BURNS ON MORE THAN 65 PERCENT OF HIS BODY,

AFTER HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS HE'D FAIL TO HAVE THE NECESSARY VOTES THAT WOULD MERGE SUNO WITH UNO, THE BILL HAS NOW BEEN CHANGED TO SIMPLY TRANSFER UNO INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. THE PROPOSAL EASILY PASSED THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE BILL'S AUTHOR METAIRIE SEN CONRAD APPEL SAYS THIS BILL HAS NO IMPACT ON SUNO. APPEL SAYS THE UL SYSTEM WILL BE A BETTER FIT FOR UNO THAN THE COMPETITIVE LSU SYSTEM. APPEL SAYS UNDER THE UL SYSTEM, UNO WILL NOW HAVE MORE RESOURCES AVAILABLE, WILL HAVE MORE FLEXIBILITY TO ADD AND REMOVE PROGRAMS AND WILL BETTER BE ABLE TO GROW AND PROSPER. HE SAYS OTHERWISE THERE WON'T BE MUCH DIFFERENCE. THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE BIG RIGS KEEP RIGHT ON MULTI-LANE ROADS. BILL AUTHOR SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX, OF LIVONIA, SAYS THE "RIGHT LANE ONLY" POLICY FOR TRUCKS ON I-10 OVER THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN--PUT IN PLACE BY DOTD 7 YEARS AGO--SUPPORTS DOING THE SAME THING STATEWIDE. MARIONNEAUX'S BILL WOULD MAKE 18-WHEELERS STAY IN THE RIGHT LANE ON MULTI-LANE HIGHWAYS, LETTING THEM USE THE LEFT LANE ONLY TO PASS SLOWER TRAFFIC AND MAKE AN APPROACHING LEFT TURN. HE SAYS HIS BILL IS AN ISSUE OF SAFETY FOR THE TRAVELING PUBLIC. THE LOUISIANA MOTOR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION IS OPPOSING THE LEGISLATION.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HAS AMENDED A HOUSE BILL THAT REMOVES $800,000 FROM THE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM WITH LOUISIANA STATE'S POLICE BUDGET. SUPERINTENDENT COL MIKE EDMONSON SAYS THIS MEANS THE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE FORCED TO LAYOFF STATE TROOPERS. HE SAYS THAT'S THE LAST THING HE WANTS TO DO. EDMONSON SAYS A LAYOFF IN TROOPERS WOULD DIRECTLY AFFECT PUBLIC SAFETY. EDMONSON SAYS 90% OF HIS BUDGET IS SALARY DOLLARS. HE SAYS IF STATE POLICE IS FORCED TO LAY OFF TROOPERS IT WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE NUMBER OF CRIMINAL ARRESTS MADE, CRASHES INVESTIGATED, MOTORISTS ASSISTED AND RESPONSE TIMES.

HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION MAY BE OVER STATING THE BAD EFFECTS THAT WILL COME FROM HOUSE MEMBERS STRIPPING CONTINGENCY FUNDS FROM THE STATE BUDGET BILL. TUCKER SAYS THE CUTS MADE TO THE BUDGET ONLY AMOUNT TO AROUND $150-MILLION. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE GOT ANGRY WHEN THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MADE CUTS TO AREAS THAT WERE CONTINGENT ON SELLING STATE PRISONS, INCREASING STATE WORKERS' RETIREMENT EXPENSE AND OTHER PLANS TO FILL IN BUDGET GAPS. TUCKER SAYS MANY PARTS OF THE JINDAL PLAN WERE FOUND WANTING BY HOUSE MEMBERS. JINDAL DEPARTMENT HEADS SAY THE HOUSE'S ACTION WILL MEAN SUSPENSION OF STATE SERVICES, CLOSURES OF VETERANS OFFICES, STATE CEMETERIES AND EVEN LAYOFFS AT THE STATE POLICE. TUCKER SAYS THE SITUATION IS PROBABLY NOT AS DIRE AS THAT, BUT THERE IS TIME FOR FURTHER BUDGET REVISIONS.

A 24 YEAR OLD CHESTNUT MAN WAS KILLED LAST NIGHT IN A SINGLE VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 486 EAST OF CAMPTI WHEN HE LOST CONTROL AND STRUCK A DITCH. PERRY NASH, WHO STATE POLICE SAY WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT, WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE AND DIED AT THE SCENE. A PASSENGER WAS INJURED AND TAKEN TO THE LSU MEDICAL CENTER IN SHREVEPORT.

THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER IN ST. MARTIN PARISH IS EXPECTED TO RISE NEARLY A FOOT A DAY UNTIL IT CRESTS AT AN ESTIMATED 27 FEET ON TUESDAY. A MANDATORY EVACUATION STARTS SATURDAY IN BUTTE LAROSE AND TWO OTHER TOWNS. JONATHAN BRAZZELL, WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, SAYS THEY EXPECT THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER TO RISE ANOTHER SIX FEET.

THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT VIDALIA IS NOW EXPECTED TO CREST LOWER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT. VIDALIA MAYOR HYRAM COPELAND SAYS HIS CITY'S RIVERFRONT IS UNDERWATER, BUT NOT ONE DROP OF WATER HAS MADE IT INTO ANY OF THEIR BUILDINGS THANKS TO SANDBAGS AND HESCO BASKETS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS LOWERED ITS VIDALIA CREST LEVEL PREDICTION BY HALF A FOOT.

STATE OFFICIALS HAVE LOWERED THE SPEED LIMIT ON PARTS OF HIGHWAY 190 IN HOPES OF REDUCING THE NUMBERS OF CRASHES BETWEEN VEHICLES AND WILDLIFE FLEEING THE FLOOD. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS THE NEW LIMIT IS BETWEEN THE TOWNS OF KROTZ SPRINGS AND LOTTIE. GRAHAM SAYS THIS IS JUST A SAFETY PRECAUTION.

A SENATE COMMITTEE REJECTS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE BANNED LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM USING SPEED CAMERAS. METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY SAYS THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS UNFAIR BECAUSE THERE IS NO FAIR WAY TO APPEAL A CAMERA ISSUED TICKET WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF INCURRING AN ADDITIONAL FINE. SHREVEPORT SENATOR LYDIA JACKSON SAYS THE BILL WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF IT HAD SET UP A SYSTEM OF APPEAL OR DUE PROCESS. AS IT WAS WRITTEN, SHE SAYS, IT INTERFERES WITH THE RIGHTS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

GOV. JINDAL HAS EARNED AT LEAST $100-THOUSAND FOR HIS BOOK "LEADERSHIP AND CRISIS." THE INCOME FROM THE BOOK IS INCLUDED ON THE GOVERNOR'S 2010 PERSONAL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT, WHICH WAS FILED WITH THE STATE ETHICS BOARD THIS WEEK.

THE STATE SENATE APPROVES A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE PARENTS WITH CHILDREN IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS A LARGER TAX BREAK. THE BILLS AUTHOR, GROSS TETE SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX SAYS THE BILL WOULD ALLOW A 5-THOUSAND DOLLAR STATE INCOME TAX DEDUCTION PER CHILD FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. HE SAYS THE DEDUCTION WILL REDUCE STATE REVENUES BY 5.3-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FORECASTERS ARE CALLING FOR AN ABOVE NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON THIS YEAR. NOAA ADMINISTRATOR DR. JANE LUBCHENCO SAYS IT WILL LIKELY INCLUDE 12 TO 18 NAMED STORMS. LUBCHENCO SAYS OF THOSE STORMS THREE TO SIX COULD BECOME MAJOR HURRICANES.

A 25-SQUARE-MILE AREA IS BEING SEARCHED FOR THREE PEOPLE MISSING AFTER A CARGO SHIP COLLIDED WITH A FISHING BOAT WEDNESDAY NIGHT OFF THE MISSISSIPPI COAST.
THE 163-FOOT FISHING BOAT SANDY POINT SANK AFTER IT WAS RAMMED BY THE 660-FOOT EURUS LONDON SHORTLY BEFORE 9 P.M. WEDNESDAY. COAST GUARD CAPT. DON ROSE IN MOBILE, ALA., SAID THURSDAY THAT THE FISHING BOAT SANK ON THE EDGE OF THE MISSISSIPPI SOUND CHANNEL IN ABOUT 25 FEET OF WATER. ROSE SAID THE 13 MEN WHO WERE RESCUED FROM THE SANDY POINT SUFFERED BUMPS AND BRUISES BUT ARE IN GOOD CONDITION.

THE HOUSE WATERED DOWN AND THEN REJECTED AN ANTI-BULLYING PROPOSAL FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AFTER AN ANGRY DEBATE IN WHICH OPPONENTS CLAIMED THE MEASURE WAS AN ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE A "GAY AGENDA" IN SCHOOLS. BULLYING OF STUDENTS IS PROHIBITED IN CURRENT LOUISIANA LAW, WITH SCHOOL BOARDS REQUIRED TO INCLUDE SUCH BANS IN STUDENT CODES OF CONDUCT AND DETERMINE PUNISHMENT. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 112) BY REP. AUSTIN BADON WOULD HAVE DESCRIBED WHAT WAS PROHIBITED TO INCLUDE HARASSMENT BASED ON RACE, RELIGION, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY, PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OR CLOTHING. "NO HUMAN BEING, REGARDLESS OF THEIR LIFESTYLE, SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO THIS TYPE OF ABUSE," SAID BADON, D-NEW ORLEANS. CRITICISM WAS LED BY CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, INCLUDING THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM. OPPONENTS SAID THE PROPOSAL WAS A BACKDOOR ATTEMPT TO MAKE HOMOSEXUALITY MORE ACCEPTABLE IN SCHOOLS. THE HOUSE STRIPPED ANY REFERENCE OF GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THE OTHER QUALIFICATIONS FROM THE MEASURE. THEN LAWMAKERS VOTED 54-43 AGAINST THE PROPOSAL.




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