KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday 07/06/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 070611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURY, MEETING IN COMMITTEE YESTERDAY, VOTED 6-2 IN FAVOR OF A MOTION THAT WOULD EXTENDING CLECO’S RIGHT TO OPERATE IN THE PARISH FOR 6 MONTHS. THE MOTION WILL COME UP FOR THE OFFICIAL VOTE AT THE JURY'S REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING NEXT MONDAY. CLECO'S FRANCHISE AGREEMENT , WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE A FRANCHISE FEE, ENDS IN NOVEMBER. NEW FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS IN THE PARISH NORMALLY CARRY A 4 PERCENT FEE. JURY PRESIDENT RICHARD BILLINGS, WHO AUTHORED THE MOTION, SAID THE DELAY IS TO GIVE NEW JURY MEMBERS ELECTED THIS FALL A CHANCE TO RESEARCH THE ISSUE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION.

THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAYS IT'S CRACKING DOWN ON PEOPLE WHO'RE UNLAWFULLY RECEIVING STATE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. LWC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CURT EYSINK (EYE-SINK) SAYS 24 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED; ACCUSED OF STEALING OVER A QUARTER-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TRUST FUND. EYSINK SAYS THE INVESTIGATION IS ABOUT TO GO STATEWIDE. HE SAYS MOST ALLEGED OFFENDERS CONTINUED TO TAKE WEEKLY BENEFITS LONG AFTER THEY'VE FOUND A PAYING JOB. HE SAYS THERE'S NO WAY TO DO THAT ACCIDENTALLY. THOSE CONVICTED COULD FACE UP TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL HAS SIGNED INTO LAW A BILL ESTABLISHING A DEATH BENEFIT FOR FAMILIES OF LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS KILLED IN ACTION DURING THE WAR ON TERROR. THE NEW LAW PROVIDES FOR WIDOWS AND CHILDREN, AND PROVIDES FOR THOSE CRITICALLY WOUNDED IN SERVICE. THE LEGISLATION WAS SPONSORED BY NEW ORLEANS REP. NICK LORUSSO. IT PROVIDES A QUARTER-MILLION BENEFIT TO SURVIVORS OF GUARDSMEN (AND WOMAN) KILLED IN ACTION SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. ALSO, UNDER THE NEW LAW, A $100-THOUSAND BENEFIT WILL ALSO BE PAID TO ANY GUARDSMAN WHO WAS PERMANENTLY DISABLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN AFGHANISTAN OR IRAQ.

MORE THAN 350 CAMPAIGN FINANCE CASES REMAIN STALLED BECAUSE OF A DISPUTE OVER THE STEPS REQUIRED TO LEVY AND ENFORCE COLLECTION ON DELINQUENT REPORTS AND THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS' AUTHORITY IN THE CASES. FRANK SIMONEAUX, ETHICS BOARD CHAIRMAN, IS BLAMING THE STALEMATE THAT HAS DEVELOPED ON A 2008 LAW PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL. THE LAW LEFT THE ETHICS BOARD WITH INVESTIGATORY AND PROSECUTORIAL FUNCTIONS, BUT TRANSFERRED THE JUDICIAL FUNCTION TO THE NEWLY CREATED ETHICS ADJUDICATORY BOARD. HOW THAT CHANGE AFFECTED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOW AT ISSUE. SIMONEAUX SAID THE 2008 STATE LAW THAT TRANSFERRED JUDICIAL AUTHORITY TO THE EAB IS "SO UNCLEAR" THAT IT HAS LED TO ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS. WITH NO ONE KNOWING WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE THE LAW.

A 27-YEAR-OLD SOLDIER FROM LOUISIANA HAS DIED FROM INJURIES SUFFERED WHILE SUPPORTING OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM IN AFGHANISTAN. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SAID TUESDAY THAT STAFF SGT. MICHAEL J. GARCIA, OF BOSSIER CITY, DIED JULY 4TH IN LOGAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN, OF WOUNDS SUFFERED WHEN INSURGENTS ATTACKED HIS UNIT USING AN IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE. GARCIA WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 63RD ORDNANCE BATTALION, 52ND ORDNANCE GROUP, 20TH SUPPORT COMMAND AT FORT POLK.

CONCORDIA PARISH SHERIFF'S AUTHORITIES DISCOVERED THE BODY OF A MISSING FISHERMAN FROM POINTE COUPEE PARISH IN THE OLD RIVER EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.
THE BODY OF 44 YEAR OLD EWELL HENDERSON WAS FOUND NEAR A CONTROL STRUCTURE. HENDERSON HAD BEEN FISHING LATE FRIDAY WITH HIS WIFE AND TWO SONS WHEN A LOG APPARENTLY STRUCK THE FAMILY'S ALUMINUM BOAT. THE TWO BOYS AND THEIR MOTHER WERE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO SAFETY. THE DAD WAS NOT.

AS HIS HOUSE ARREST ENDS TODAY, LOUISIANA'S CHARISMATIC FORMER GOV. EDWIN EDWARDS ISN'T PLANNING FOR A QUIET RETIREMENT. INSTEAD, HE'S READYING FOR HIS THIRD WEDDING, A BOOK TOUR AND A GRAND 84TH BIRTHDAY AND COMING-OUT PARTY LATER THIS MONTH. HE'S EVEN IN TALKS FOR A POSSIBLE REALITY TV SHOW.
DESPITE SERVING EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR A SCHEME TO RIG RIVERBOAT CASINO LICENSES, THE FOUR-TERM FORMER GOVERNOR WHO DOMINATED LOUISIANA'S POLITICAL SCENE FOR DECADES WILL EMERGE FROM HOME DETENTION WITH NO SIGNS HIS POPULARITY HAS EBBED.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY CENTER HAVE RELEASED RANKINGS SHOWING LSU-SHREVEPORT AS THE 15TH-RANKED UNIVERSITY WITH THE LOWEST PRICE FOR PUBLIC, FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES. THE DESIGNATION ALSO MAKES LSUS THE MOST AFFORDABLE COLLEGE IN LOUISIANA.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S VETO OF A RETIREMENT BILL HAS EFFECTIVELY KILLED THREE OTHER BILLS HE PREVIOUSLY SIGNED INTO LAW. THE THREE HOUSE BILLS ALLOWED RETIRED TEACHERS TO RETURN TO PART-TIME WORK AND CONTINUE PENSION BENEFITS.
NOW THAT CANNOT HAPPEN .EACH BILL HAD A CONDITION ATTACHED TO IT UNDER WHICH THE LEGISLATION COULD NOT BECOME EFFECTIVE UNLESS JINDAL SIGNED ANOTHER BILL, SENATE BILL 6. SB6 WAS AIMED AT PROTECTING ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION MEMBERS FROM INCREASED RETIREMENT COSTS IN THE EVENT HIGHER EDUCATION EMPLOYEES LEFT THE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF LOUISIANA. THE LEGISLATION WOULD HAVE REQUIRED AGENCIES, SUCH AS LSU, TO COVER THE FINANCIAL COST TO THE SYSTEM IF THEY PULLED EMPLOYEES OUT OF IT. JINDAL VETOED SB6 FRIDAY, MAKING THE THREE HOUSE BILLS HE PREVIOUSLY SIGNED INTO LAW MOOT.

A LATE NIGHT FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY HOUSE FIRE HAS CLAIMED THE LIFE OF AN ELDERLY COUPLE IN CADDO PARISH. THE STATE FIRE MARSHALL SAYS THERE WERE SMOKE DETECTORS IN THE HOME. BUT, IT’S NOT KNOWN IF THEY WERE WORKING OF IF THE COUPLE, BOTH IN THEIR 80’S HEARD THEM. IN ANOTHER DEADLY BLAZE, A 51-YEAR-OLD LAFAYETTE WOMAN DIED OVER THE WEEKEND IN A FIRE AT HER HOME. THAT BLAZE IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

A DEADLY COMBINATION OF ALCOHOL AND NO SEATBELTS HAS RESULTED IN THE DEATH OF A DRY CREEK MAN. 59-YEAR-OLD JAMES JACKSON WAS A PASSENGER IN A PICKUP TRUCK DRIVEN BY 42-YEAR-OLD MARTIN LOREN SNYDER OF DERIDDER ON US 171 SOUTH OF DERIDDER IN BEAUREGARD PARISH. TROOPERS SAY JACKSON WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE AND SUFFERED SERIOUS INJURIES. HE WAS TAKEN TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL WHERE HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD. THE DRIVER FACES A LONG LIST OF CHARGES. STATE POLICE HAD HOPED FOR A FATALITY-FREE JULY 4TH WEEKEND, BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THINGS WORKED OUT. LSP SPOKESMAN LT. DOUG CAIN SAYS A HALF-DOZEN LOUISIANANS PERISHED ON STATE ROADWAYS OVER THE HOLIDAY.

REPRESENTATIVE MAC "BODI" WHITE, OF CENTRAL, ANNOUNCES PLANS TO RUN FOR THE NEW DISTRICT 6 SENATE SEAT. THE DISTRICT WAS CREATED IN THE REDISTRICTING SESSION THIS SPRING AND INCLUDES PARTS OF EAST BATON ROUGE LIVINGSTON, ST. HELENA AND TANGIPAHOA PARISHES.

ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF LOUISIANA'S SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM SAYS A STATE EDUCATION VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT LETS SOME NEW ORLEANS STUDENTS GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE NEEDS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS TO MAKE SURE THE MONEY DOESN'T PAY FOR STUDENTS TO GO FROM BAD PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAT ARE PERFORMING EVEN WORSE. LESLIE JACOBS SAID TUESDAY THAT AN ANALYSIS OF STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES BY "EDUCATE NOW!," A NEW ORLEANS-BASED NONPROFIT GROUP SHE FOUNDED, SHOWS THAT MANY STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE VOUCHER PROGRAM PERFORMED WORSE THAN THE STUDENTS IN THE STATE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, WHICH OVERSEES MOST PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN NEW ORLEANS.

IT APPEARS THE 2011 ESSENCE FESTIVAL WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS THIS PAST WEEKEND. MORE THAN 422,000 PEOPLE TOOK PART IN FESTIVAL. FOR THREE DAYS, THOUSANDS GATHERED FOR NIGHTLY CONCERTS INSIDE THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME AND FREE DAILY EMPOWERMENT AND COMMUNITY-BASED EVENTS AT THE CITY'S CONVENTION CENTER WHERE THE FESTIVAL CELEBRATED ITS 17TH ANNIVERSARY. CITYWIDE HOTEL OCCUPANCY WAS IN THE MID-90 PERCENT RANGE OR HIGHER THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND.

STATE REP. MICHAEL JACKSON OF BATON ROUGE HAS RETURNED TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, AFTER BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT THREE YEARS AGO IN A FAILED BID FOR CONGRESS. JACKSON SWITCHED BACK TO THE DEMOCRATS ON MAY 31, ACCORDING TO RECORDS FILED WITH THE LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE. HE HAD BEEN AN INDEPENDENT SINCE 2008, WHEN HE LOST THE CONGRESSIONAL RACE. THE LAWMAKER'S MOVE BACK TO THE DEMOCRATS COMES BEFORE JACKSON PLANS TO RUN FOR THE STATE SENATE IN THIS FALL'S PRIMARY ELECTION. THE PARTY SWITCH LEAVES THE 105-MEMBER HOUSE WITH THREE INDEPENDENTS AND BOOSTS DEMOCRATIC RANKS TO 47 MEMBERS. REPUBLICANS HOLD A MAJORITY IN THE CHAMBER.





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