KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 05/26/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 052611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

JOB GROWTH PICKED UP IN LOUISIANA IN APRIL AFTER SAGGING A BIT THE PREVIOUS MONTH WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR PROVIDING ALL OF THE NEW EMPLOYMENT. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE STATE HAD 14,500 MORE NON-FARM JOBS IN APRIL THAN IN APRIL 2010. THAT FOLLOWS A MARCH-TO-MARCH GAIN OF 9,200 JOBS AND A FEBRUARY-TO-FEBRUARY GAIN OF 21,200 JOBS. THE FIGURES ARE NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED. THE WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAID PRIVATE PAYROLL JOBS HAVE INCREASED BY 25,300 OVER THE PAST YEAR, WHILE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT HAS FALLEN BY 10,800 JOBS. ALEXANDRIA ADDED 1,300 JOBS OVER THE YEAR, ALL IN THE SERVICE-PROVIDING SECTOR.

THREE APPOINTMENTS MADE TO THE ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS BY MAYOR JACQUES ROY ARE APPROPRIATE AND LEGITIMATE, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE AUTHORITY'S ATTORNEY AND THE MAYOR. A QUESTION ABOUT THE APPOINTMENTS WAS RAISED THIS WEEK BY A TOWN TALK REPORTER AFTER AN AUDIT OF THE OPELOUSAS HOUSING AUTHORITY WAS RELEASED. THE AUDIT OF THE 2009-10 FISCAL YEAR SAYS OPELOUSAS MAYOR DON CRAVINS SR. MAY HAVE VIOLATED STATE ETHICS LAWS BY APPOINTING CITY EMPLOYEES TO THE BOARD OF THAT AUTHORITY. THE MAYOR SAID YESTERDAY "WHAT THE TOWN TALK WAS DOING WAS SLEAZY BECAUSE. IN HIS WORDS, THEY ARE COMPARING TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SCENARIOS."

MORE ARRESTS ARE EXPECTED, THAT AFTER AUTHORITIES ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT TWENTY WINN PARISH RESIDENTS HAD BEEN ARRESTED ON DRUG AND OTHER CHARGES AFTER A 10-MONTH OPERATION BY VARIOUS STATE, LOCAL AND FEDERAL AGENCIES. DRUGS, WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES WERE SEIZED DURING THE OPERATION.

LOUISIANA IS SEEING MORE SERIOUS DROUGHT CONDITIONS THAN IT'S EXPERIENCED IN DECADES. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THERE IS A CHANCE FOR RAIN IN THE STATE TODAY AND TOMORROW, BUT HE DOESN'T ANTICIPATE MUCH MORE RAIN BEFORE THE END OF THE MONTH. KEIM SAYS THIS IS THE SECOND DRIEST JANUARY TO MAY WE'VE SEEN SINCE 1963.

THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS CLOSED THREE BAYS ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. THE CLOSING OF THE BAYS IS THE RESULT OF REDUCED FLOW-RATES IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT RED RIVER LANDING. THERE ARE CURRENTLY 14 BAYS OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN, BUT CORPS SPOKESPERSON KEN HOLDER SAYS THERE'S NO TIMELINE ON WHEN ALL OF THE BAYS WILL BE CLOSED.

THE LONG ANTICIPATED FLOOD WATERS HAVE FINALLY MADE THEIR WAY INTO THE EMPTY TOWN OF BUTTE LAROSE. THE MANDATORY EVACUATION WAS IMPLEMENTED YESTERDAY. ST MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNNY HIGGINS SAYS THE WATER IS BEING MONITORED AS IT MOVES INTO THE AREA. SHE SAYS THINGS ARE VERY QUIET IN THE TOWN AS ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE DECIDED TO STAY. SHE SAYS NOW ALL THAT CAN BE DONE IS WAIT TO SEE HOW HIGH THE WATER WILL GET AND WHEN IT WILL RECEDE.

DEBATE OF THE STATE'S $25-BILLION BUDGET BOGGED DOWN OVER THE USE OF $93-MILLION IN ONE-TIME MONEY ON RECURRING EXPENDITURES. A NEWLY-PASSED HOUSE RULE CALLS FOR A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE TO USE NON-RECURRING REVENUES. A MOTION WAS MADE TO SUSPEND THAT RULE, WHICH HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER OPPOSES. TUCKER APPEALS TO FELLOW CONSERVATIVES IN THE HOUSE TO NOT SET ASIDE A RULE THEY MADE ONLY LAST WEEK. APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN, OF JONESBORO, SAYS HE JUST WANTS TO WAIVE THE RULE AND GET REAL DEBATE ON THE BUDGET BILL UNDERWAY. THE HOUSE WAS UNABLE TO DECIDE ON SUSPENDING RULES, SO THE BILL WAS RETURNED TO THE CALENDAR FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION.

DEBATE YESTERDAY ON THE SENATE FLOOR ON A BILL TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S PERSONAL INCOME TAX. A SIMILAR HOUSE BILL IS ALSO ACTIVE. BOTH WOULD PHASE INCOME TAXES OUT OVER A TEN-YEAR SPAN. INCOME TAXES ACCOUNT FOR ABOUT 15 TO 20% OF THE STATE'S $9-BILLION ANNUAL GENERAL FUND EXPENSE. THE STATE WOULD HAVE TO LOWER ITS SPENDING BY THAT MUCH OR DEVISE DIFFERENT REVENUE SOURCES.

A SENATE PANEL IS CONSIDERING A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL A LOUISIANA LAW THAT ALLOWS PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHERS TO USE SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS IN THEIR CLASSROOMS BEYOND STATE-APPROVED TEXTBOOKS. MORE THAN 40 NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING SCIENTISTS ARE URGING THE REPEAL OF THE LOUISIANA SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT, SAYING IT CREATES A WAY FOR TEACHERS TO CHALLENGE EVOLUTION AND TEACH CREATIONISM IN CLASSROOMS. SUPPORTERS SAY THE LAW WAS DESIGNED TO PROMOTE CRITICAL THINKING, STRENGTHEN EDUCATION AND HELP TEACHERS WHO ARE CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT'S ACCEPTABLE FOR SCIENCE CLASSES. THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE THE REPEAL BILL BY NEW ORLEANS SEN. KAREN CARTER PETERSON ON THURSDAY. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL OPPOSES PETERSON'S BILL.

A NATIONAL TRACKING FIRM SAYS HOUSES IN FORECLOSURE ACCOUNTED FOR 11.9 PERCENT OF FIRST-QUARTER HOME SALES IN LOUISIANA. DURING THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2011, IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC SAID THERE WERE 497 HOMES SOLD IN SOME STAGE OF FORECLOSURE, RANGING FROM AN INITIAL DEFAULT NOTICE TO PROPERTIES THAT HAD BEEN TAKEN BACK BY LENDERS. REALTYTRAC SAID THAT HOUSES OWNED BY LENDERS WERE SOLD AT AN AVERAGE DISCOUNT OF 41 PERCENT TO THOSE WITH OWNERS UP TO DATE ON THEIR PAYMENTS. HOUSES WHERE OWNERS WERE IN TROUBLE BUT HAD NOT YET BEEN HIT BY FORECLOSURE WENT FOR AN AVERAGE OF 22.3 PERCENT LESS.

DREW BREES HAS A TRACK RECORD OF MAKING THE BEST OF BAD SITUATIONS. HE SAYS HE SEES NO REASON WHY THE NFL LOCKOUT SHOULD BE ANY DIFFERENT. BREES AND SEVERAL DOZEN OF HIS NEW ORLEANS SAINTS TEAMMATES HAVE SPENT THE PAST FOUR WEEKS NOT ONLY WORKING OUT AS A TEAM, BUT ALSO BANDING TOGETHER TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITIES AND EVEN SPENDING TIME WITH FANS. ON WEDNESDAY, FOUR WINNERS OF A RAFFLE THAT RAISED ABOUT $43,000 FOR LOUISIANA CHARITIES HAD A RARE CHANCE TO RUN THROUGH DRILLS IN PLAYER-ORGANIZED WORKOUTS AT TULANE UNIVERSITY.

HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS SPREAD ACROSS FIVE LOUISIANA AGENCIES WOULD BE CONSOLIDATED AND MANAGED BY A NEW STATE-CREATED CORPORATION, UNDER A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED APPROVAL WEDNESDAY FROM THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE, PUSHED BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND SPONSORED BY SEN. NEIL RISER, R-COLUMBIA, WOULD CREATE THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION TO CENTRALIZE HOUSING AID PROGRAMS AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. IT WOULD TAKE OVER AND LARGELY DISMANTLE THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, WHICH HAS GENERATED COMPLAINTS SINCE THE 2005 HURRICANES OF BLOATED BUREAUCRACY AND INEFFICIENT SPENDING

A LAWMAKER WITHDRAWS HIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO MAKE SWEEPING CHANGES IN ENFORCEMENT OF IMMIGRATION LAWS. AFTER HEARING TESTIMONY WEDNESDAY AGAINST THE BILL FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT AND IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ADVOCATES, NAPOLEONVILLE REP. JOE HARRISON DEFERRED HIS PROPOSAL. AS WRITTEN HARRISON'S BILL WOULD HAVE REQUIRED PROVIDERS OF PUBLIC BENEFITS - SUCH AS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS OR SOCIAL SERVICES TO VERIFY CITIZENSHIP. IT ALSO WOULD HAVE REQUIRED POLICE TO VERIFY THE CITIZENSHIP OF ANY ARRESTED PERSON BEFORE RELEASE.

LOUISIANA'S EMERGING DIGITAL MEDIA INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO GROW. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS VIDEO GAME MAKER ELECTRONIC ARTS PLANS A BIG EXPANSION OF IT'S NORTH AMERICAN TEST CENTER--CURRENTLY LOCATED ON THE LSU CAMPUS IN BATON ROUGE...: (THE PLANNED EXPANSION WILL INCREASE EA'S PAYROLL BY 200 JOBS

STATE POLICE REPORT THEIR YEAR-LONG INVESTIGATION HAS LED TO THE ARREST OF 7 LAFAYETTE-AREA PEOPLE FOR ALLEGEDLY STAGING VEHICLE CRASHES TO COLLECT FRAUDULENT PROPERTY AND INJURY CLAIMS. TROOPERS SAY THEY ARE STILL LOOKING FOR AN EIGHTH PERSON WHO TOOK PART IN THE SCHEME.

POLICE IN GONZALES, IN ASCENSION PARISH, HAVE ARRESTED FORMER LSU BASKETBALL AND NBA PLAYER JOHN "HOT ROD" WILLIAMS ON A MISDEMEANOR COUNT RELATED TO GUNSHOTS FIRED DURING A PARTY AT HIS HOME. POLICE SAY WILLIAMS AND HIS RELATIVES TOLD OFFICERS ABOUT EIGHT SHOTS WERE FIRED BY AN UNKNOWN PERSON ATTENDING SATURDAY'S PARTY.

DRIVES PASSING THROUGH THE ACADIANA AREA WILL NOW BE ABLE TO ACCESS TRAFFIC CAMERAS GIVING THEM REAL-TIME ACCESS TO TRAFFIC INFORMATION ON I-10 AND A PORTION OF I-49 IN LAFAYETTE AND THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN BRIDGE. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON AMBER HEBERT SAYS MOTORIST WILL BE ABLE TO PLAN THEIR ROUT BASED ON THE MOST CURRENT INFORMATION. HEBERT SAYS THE CAMERA PROGRAM HAS PROVEN SUCCESSFUL IN EVERY AREA WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN INSTALLED AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION WILL CONTINUE TO EXPAND THE SYSTEM.

FRANCISCO PIEDRAHITA THE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR FROM COLOMBIA WHO HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE SATURDAY, WAS FOUND ALIVE IN THE 2,000-ACRES OF FOREST AND SWAMPLAND NEAR NEW ORLEANS WHERE CREWS HAVE SPENT FIVE DAYS SEARCHING FOR HIM. OFFICIALS SAY HE WAS TAKEN BY AMBULANCE TO WEST JEFFERSON MEDICAL CENTER. PIEDRAHITA WAS FOUND BY A JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HELICOPTER CREW ABOUT 300 YARDS OFF A TRAIL

THE FORMER MAYOR OF GRAMBLING, JOHN "PORKY" WILLIAMS HAS PASSED AWAY. WILLIAMS SERVED AS MAYOR FROM 1995-2002 AND RAN AGAIN FOR OFFICE IN 2010.

THE U.S. POST OFFICE ON U.S. 165 IN MONROE WAS EVACUATED WHEN AN EMPLOYEE DISCOVERED A SMALL SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE THAT WAS SAID TO HAVE BEEN TICKING. THE PACKAGE, WHICH WAS LATER IDENTIFIED BY POLICE AS A CELLPHONE, WAS DESTROYED BY THE MONROE POLICE DEPARTMENT.



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