KSYL Local News

News For Friday 03/16/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 031612
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS APPROVED GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL'S PROPOSED TEACHER TENURE REFORM BILL. THE BILL BY METAIRIE SENATOR CONRAD APPEL, WHO CHAIRS THE COMMITTEE, GETS RID OF CERTAIN SENIORITY PROTECTIONS AND MAKES TENURE HARDER TO ACHIEVE. STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO WEED OUT BAD TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM. FOR A SECOND DAY IN A ROW YESTERDAY, HUNDREDS OF TEACHERS WERE AT THE CAPITOL TO PROTEST THE LEGISLATION. MANY OF THE TEACHERS SAY THEY FEEL THEY ARE BEING UNFAIRLY ATTACKED. THE MEASURE NOW GOES TO THE SENATE FLOOR. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE PASSED ITS VERSION OF THE BILL WEDNESDAY.

RAPIDES PARISH SUPT. OF SCHOOLS DR. GARY JONES SAYS WE HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED AN ISSUE WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF TEACHERS TAKING SICK OR PERSONAL LEAVE TO ATTEND COMMITTEE MEETINGS ON THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED EDUCATION REFORMS. JONES SAYS WHEN HE TESTIFIED IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE ON WEDNESDAY, HE SAW TWO TEACHERS FROM RAPIDES PARISH. HE SAY THERE MAY HAVE BEEN MORE. BUT, IF THEY TOOK PERSONAL DAYS TO BE THERE, SO DID HE.

SEVERAL DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS COMPLAINED THURSDAY ABOUT SOME TEACHERS BEING SHUT OUT OF THE STATE CAPITOL AS LAWMAKERS DEBATED KEY BILLS IN GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S PUBLIC EDUCATION OVERHAUL. THEY ALSO ASKED WHY THE RUSH TO PASS THE MEASURES IN THE FIRST DAYS OF AN 85-DAY LEGISLATIVE SESSION WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH AT STAKE FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

AS DEBATE CONTINUES AT THE STATE CAPITOL OVER BOBBY JINDAL'S EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE, A STATEWIDE POLL RELEASED TODAY SHOWS THERE'S PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR MANY OF THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS. SOUTHERN MEDIA AND OPINION RESEARCH POLLSTER BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS 82-PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS FAVOR CHANGES TO TEACHER TENURE AND 56-PERCENT SUPPORT A VOUCHER SYSTEM. PINSONAT'S POLL ALSO SHOWS A MAJORITY FEEL THAT IF PRIVATE SCHOOLS DO RECEIVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS IN THE FORM OF TUITION VOUCHERS, THOSE SCHOOLS SHOULD PROVE THEY PROVIDE A QUALITY EDUCATION. PINSONAT SURVEYED 600 LOUISIANA VOTERS DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL WANTS THE STATE TO SHED SOME PROPERTY FOR UPFRONT CASH, OFFERING BUDGET PLANS THAT INCLUDE SELLING A STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL, A PARKING LOT OVERLOOKING THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL AND A PRISON IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA. IF THE PROPERTY SALES GENERATE THE MONEY ASSUMED IN JINDAL'S PROPOSALS, $35 MILLION WOULD BE USED FOR NEXT YEAR'S OPERATING BUDGET, AND ANOTHER $40 MILLION WOULD BE SENT TO THE STATE'S "RAINY DAY" FUND. LAWMAKERS WILL CONSIDER THE IDEAS THIS SESSION.

IT APPEARS NOW, THE MAN ACCUSED OF HOLDING UP A CAPITOL ONE BANK BRANCH IN BALL EARLIER THIS MONTH, WAS NO BEGINNER. THE SUSPECT SERVED ALMOST SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR BANK ROBBERIES THAT OCCURRED IN OUACHITA PARISH IN 2001.
46 YEAR OLD STEPHEN PAUL KENT WAS CHARGED TUESDAY WITH SIMPLE ROBBERY AND DRUG POSSESSION IN CONNECTION WITH THE MARCH 6 . AUTHORITIES SAY IN 2001, KENT WAS INDICTED IN OUACHITA PARISH ON FOUR COUNTS OF SIMPLE ROBBERY IN CONNECTION WITH BANK ROBBERIES IN MONROE AND WEST MONROE. HE PLEADED GUILTY TO TWO OF THE COUNTS, AND PROSECUTORS DROPPED THE OTHER TWO CHARGES.

THE LSU FACULTY SENATE APPROVES A RESOLUTION GIVING INSTRUCTORS THE OPTION TO INCLUDE CLASS ATTENDANCE IN FINAL COURSE GRADES. LSU MASS COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR AND RESOLUTION CO-SPONSOR, LOUIS DAY SUPPORTS THE IDEA THAT CLASS ATTENDANCE IS IMPORTANT FROM AN INTELLECTUAL STANDPOINT. HE SAYS, IN HIS EXPERIENCE, STUDENTS WHO REGULARLY ATTEND CLASS PERFORM BETTER AND MAKE BETTER GRADES. DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS FOR THE LSU STUDENT GOVERNMENT, THOMAS RODGERS, DISAGREES WITH THE RESOLUTION. HE SAYS PROFESSORS SHOULD
FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO DRAW STUDENTS INTO THE CLASS RATHER THAN TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT. THE RESOLUTION STILL NEEDS APPROVAL FROM THE ADMINISTRATION AT LSU
BEFORE TAKING EFFECT THIS FALL.

THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS IS QUESTIONING WHETHER HE SHOULD SIGN A CONTRACT UNDER WHICH THE SCHOOL WOULD TAKE OVER ALL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS AT THE STATE HEALTH AGENCY. UNO PRESIDENT PETER J. FOS SAID HE IS "TROUBLED" BY PROVISIONS OF THE PROPOSED DEAL, WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LAYOFF OF 69 CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HOSPITALS. AMONG CONCERNS FOS LAID OUT IN A LETTER TO DHH SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN WERE POTENTIAL LITIGATION FROM TO-BE-TERMINATED EMPLOYEES AND THE FINANCIAL LIABILITY ASSOCIATED WITH THOSE EMPLOYEES. UNDER THE PROPOSAL, THE DHH EMPLOYEES WOULD ACTUALLY BE SUBJECT TO LAYOFFS BY UNO, NOT THE DHH.

THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE WOMEN'S CAUCUS IS PARTNERING WITH A SERVICE THAT PROVIDES FREE TEXT MESSAGES TO ASSIST PREGNANT WOMEN AND NEW MOTHERS IN THE STATE. NEW ORLEANS SENATOR KAREN PETERSON SAYS THE SERVICE IS CALLED, "TEXT4BABY." SHE SAYS THE IDEA IS TO HELP PREVENT PREMATURE BIRTHS AND INFANT DEATHS. PETERSON SAYS "TEXT4BABY" IS THE FIRST FREE HEALTH TEXT MESSAGING
SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR MOMS. SHE SAYS WOMEN CAN TEXT "BABY" TO 511411 TO REGISTER.

A WESTLAKE WOMAN WILL STAND TRIAL IN BEAUREGARD PARISH THIS MAY FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY. HEATHER DAUGHDRILL HAS PLEADED NOT GUILTY TO THE CHARGES. PROSECUTORS SAYS DAUGHDRILL MET THE BOY WHILE WORKING AT TEACHERS AIDE AT SUMMER BIBLE CAMP. SHE FACES SIMILAR CHARGES IN CALCASIEU AS WELL, THOUGH NO TRIAL DATE IS SET.

THE LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL WILL DEBATE ENDING RED LIGHT CAMERAS IN THE CITY. THREE COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE BACKING THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE TO GET RID OF THE CONTROVERSIAL CAMS. SOME SAYS THEY PROMOTE MORE SAFE DRIVING AND REDUCE ACCIDENTS AT INTERSECTIONS. SOME FEEL THEY EXIST ONLY TO GENERATE EASY REVENUE FOR THE CITY. A VOTE IS SCHEDULED IN EARLY APRIL.

CUTS IN STATE SUPPORT TO HIGHER EDUCATION IS FORCING MANY STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TO LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF FUNDING. GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT FRANK POGUE ANNOUNCES A $10-MILLION CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AS PART OF A LARGER EFFORT TO RAISE MONEY FOR THE UNIVERSITY. POGUE SAYS THE FUNDS WOULD BE USED TO SUPPORT ATHLETICS, PROVIDE FOR BUILDING MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT FACULTY SALARIES AND MORE. HE SAYS A KEY GOAL OF THE UNIVERSITY IS TO CONTINUE TO ATTRACT TOP ACADEMIC CANDIDATES.

GROVER NORQUIST, THE WELL-KNOWN ANTI-TAX-INCREASE ACTIVIST OF AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM, HAS SENT A LETTER TO LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS URGING THEM TO VOTE AGAINST TAX HIKES. HE'S GOT FEW WORRIES. LAWMAKERS CAN'T APPROVE TAX INCREASES IN THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION UNDER THE STATE CONSTITUTION. NORQUIST'S LETTER ASKS STATE LAWMAKERS TO "STAND WITH GOV. (BOBBY) JINDAL IN OPPOSITION TO HIGHER TAXES AND ATTEMPTS TO IMPOSE EXCESSIVE REGULATION."

NEW ORLEANS POLICE HAVE ISSUED AN ARREST WARRANT FOR COMEDIC ACTOR RUSSELL BRAND ON A CHARGE OF SIMPLE CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY VALUED AT $700. BRAND IS IN NEW ORLEANS TO FILM AN UNTITLED MOVIE. POLICE SPOKESWOMAN REMI BRADEN ON THURSDAY COULD NOT IMMEDIATELY RELEASE DETAILS OF WHAT HAPPENED MONDAY. BUT, CELEBRITY WEBSITE TMZ SAID THE CHARGES STEM FROM A CONFRONTATION WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO WAS TRYING TO TAKE BRAND'S PHOTO FROM A CAR. IN A TWITTER POSTING ON WEDNESDAY, BRAND WROTE, "SINCE STEVE JOBS DIED I CANNOT BEAR TO SEE ANYONE USE AN IPHONE IRREVERENTLY, WHAT I DID WAS A TRIBUTE TO HIS MEMORY."
NEITHER BRAND NOR HIS PUBLICIST COULD IMMEDIATELY BE REACHED FOR COMMENT.

THE LOUISIANA GAMING CONTROL BOARD WILL VOTE IN JULY ON WHETHER AMERISTAR CASINOS INC. CAN ACQUIRE A RIVERBOAT CASINO RESORT PROJECT UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN LAKE CHARLES. AMERISTAR HAS AGREED TO BUY THE UNCOMPLETED PROJECT FROM CREATIVE CASINOS OF LOUISIANA LLC FOR $32.5 MILLION. ON THURSDAY, THE BOARD APPROVED AMERISTAR'S PROPOSAL TO RAISE THE PROJECT'S MINIMUM INVESTMENT FROM $400 MILLION TO $500 MILLION. SINCE LAS VEGAS-BASED AMERISTAR DOES NOT CURRENTLY HAVE A LOUISIANA CASINO LICENSE, THE COMPANY WILL UNDERGO A STANDARD BACKGROUND AND FINANCIAL CHECK. AMERISTAR HAS EIGHT CASINO-HOTELS AND OPERATES IN MISSISSIPPI, COLORADO, IOWA, INDIANA, NEVADA AND MISSOURI. THE LAKE CHARLES PLAN CALLS FOR A FLOATING CASINO, A 700-ROOM HOTEL AND AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE ON PROPERTY LEASED FROM THE PORT OF LAKE CHARLES.

SPORTS..

THREE LSU MEN'S COACHES AND THE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ARE GIVING $4,000 SO LSU STUDENTS DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR TICKETS TO THE NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. LEAGUE RULES DON'T ALLOW COMPLIMENTARY STUDENT ADMISSION TO TOURNAMENTS. SO FOOTBALL COACH LES MILES, BASKETBALL COACH TRENT JOHNSON AND BASEBALL COACH PAUL MAINIERI ARE GIVING $1,000 EACH TO BUY STUDENT TICKETS. SO IS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA. THAT'S ENOUGH FOR 800 STUDENT TICKETS TO THE GAMES SUNDAY AND TUESDAY AT THE MARAVICH ASSEMBLY CENTER. SPOKESMAN MICHAEL BONNETTE SAYS NOBODY WITH AN LSU STUDENT ID WILL BE TURNED AWAY.



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