KSYL Local News

news For Wednesday 03/21/12


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 032112
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FLOODING IS A CONCERN IN LOUISIANA TODAY AS THE RESULT OF A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS WE CAN EXPECT THIS RAIN TO LAST FOR AT LEAST TWO DAYS BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS GOING TO COME TO A STANDSTILL AND HOVER OVER THE STATE. KEIM SAYS EVEN THOUGH THERE IS POTENTIAL FOR HAIL AND TORNADOES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SYSTEM, THE BIG ISSUE WILL BE THE RAIN..

DUE TO BAD WEATHER NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY CLASSES AT THE NATCHITOCHES CAMPUS AND ITS LEESVILLE SITE WILL BE CLOSED ON WEDNESDAY, ACCORDING TO DAVID WEST, NSU SPOKESMAN. NSU CLASSES IN ALEXANDRIA AND SHREVEPORT WILL MEET AS SCHEDULED.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL OFFICIALS HAVE CALLED OFF SCHOOL WEDNESDAY BECAUSE OF CONCERNS ABOUT POSSIBLE FLOODING.

STATE LAWMAKERS SAY THEY'RE RECEIVING COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE'S TAX REFUND DEBIT CARDS. THE STATE BEGAN ISSUING DEBIT CARDS INSTEAD OF REFUND CHECKS IN DECEMBER, BUT HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN, OF JONESBORO, SAYS A DEBIT CARD LIMITS A PERSON'S ABILITY TO SPEND THE MONEY. FANNIN SAYS THE DEBIT CARD IS A GIMMICK THAT HELPS CHASE BANK, WHO THE STATE CONTRACTED WITH TO ISSUE THE CARDS. REVENUE SECRETARY CYNTHIA BRIDGES SAYS THE DECISION TO DISTRIBUTE TAX REFUNDS ON A DEBIT CARD IS AN ATTEMPT TO SAVE MONEY.

TENSIONS SURFACED TUESDAY OVER THE BOARD OF REGENTS' PLANS FOR DIVVYING UP DOLLARS AMONG LOUISIANA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES AS UNIVERSITY LEADERS FACE LOST MONEY FOR CERTAIN CAMPUSES. THE BOARD IS PROPOSING TO SPLIT ABOUT $1 BILLION IN STATE FUNDING BASED ON ITS PERFORMANCE-BASED FORMULA, WHICH CONSIDERS GRADUATION RATES, SKILLS TRAINING FOR HIGH-NEED JOB AREAS AND OTHER BENCHMARKS, RATHER THAN DOLING OUT DOLLARS SOLELY ON STUDENT ENROLLMENT.
THE FORMULA WAS DESIGNED WHEN STATE FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION WAS INCREASING. NOW, WITH REPEATED DROPS IN STATE FINANCING, UNIVERSITY LEADERS ARE AT ODDS ABOUT HOW THE FORMULA HITS THEIR CAMPUSES. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR 2012-13 WOULD SEND ALL THE STATE MONEY TO THE BOARD TO DIVIDE, RATHER THAN ALLOCATING MONEY TO THE FOUR INDIVIDUAL UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS.

THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, IN A 9-2 VOTE TUESDAY, DECLARED THE NEED FOR A REDUCTION IN FORCE, OR IN OTHER WORDS, EMPLOYEE LAYOFFS, BASED ON THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S OPERATING FUND BUDGET. BEFORE THE VOTE, FINANCIAL DIRECTOR TRESSA MILLER TOLD THE BOARD THAT THE DISTRICT FACES A $1.6 MILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL FOR THE START OF THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1.
THAT SHORTFALL COULD INCREASE TO $3.8 MILLION BY JULY 31 AFTER THE BOARD PAYS THE ANNUAL COSTS OF INCREASED EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT. EARLIER IN THE MEETING, A PEACE OFFERING WAS MADE WHEN LONGTIME ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH CASSIMERE WAS NAMED THE SYSTEM'S ACTING LEADER.

THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED BUDGET WOULD TAKE SOME $1.8 MILLION IN CASINO TAX REVENUE THAT HAS BEEN RESERVED FOR THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD AND DEPOSITED INTO A STATE MEDICAID FUND. IN THE EARLY 2000S, THE ST. LANDRY EXCELLENCE FUND WAS CREATED TO ALLOCATE 5 PERCENT OF THE STATE TAXES COLLECTED FROM EVANGELINE DOWNS RACETRACK AND CASINO'S SLOT MACHINE PROCEEDS TO THE ST. LANDRY PARISH SCHOOL BOARD. ANNUALLY, THE SCHOOL BOARD HAS RECEIVED ABOUT $750,000 FROM THE FUND.


A $325 MILLION BORROWING PLAN TO MAKE REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO RURAL ROADS ACROSS 63 PARISHES RECEIVED BACKING TUESDAY FROM THE HOUSE COMMITTEE THAT OVERSEES TAX AND BOND ISSUES. THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE ALLOWED TO BORROW DOLLARS BY SELLING BONDS TO INVESTORS FOR UPFRONT CASH. THE MONEY WOULD PAY FOR WORK ON RURAL ROADS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL MATCHING DOLLARS IN THE HIGHWAY PROGRAM. THE DEBT WOULD BE PAID OFF WITH INTEREST OVER 20 YEARS WITH A POT OF MONEY FROM REGISTRATION, LICENSE FEES AND TAXES ON COMMERCIAL TRUCKS AND TRAILERS, MONEY EARMARKED INTO THE STATE HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT FUND.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN NEW YORK ON TUESDAY DISMISSED A LAWSUIT FROM INVESTORS WHO ALLEGED TOP EXECUTIVES OF TRANSOCEAN LTD. MISLED SHAREHOLDERS ABOUT SAFETY PROBLEMS IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO A CATASTROPHIC OIL WELL BLOWOUT IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE JUDGE RULED TRANSOCEAN DID NOT MISLEAD INVESTORS ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH BLOWOUT PREVENTERS, HUMAN ERRORS AND EQUIPMENT PROBLEMS. INVESTORS ALLEGED COMPANY CEO STEVEN NEWMAN CONCEALED INFORMATION ABOUT SAFETY PROBLEMS WITH TRANSOCEAN'S FLEET OF DRILLING RIGS. THE SUIT ALSO NAMED FORMER CEO ROBERT LONG AS A DEFENDANT.

THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS SAYS A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST FILED BY THE LAW PARTNER OF A STATE GOP OFFICIAL IS AN ATTEMPT BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S SUPPORTERS TO INTIMIDATE OPPONENTS OF THE GOVERNOR'S EDUCATION PROPOSALS.
REP. JOHN BEL EDWARDS SAID TUESDAY THAT HE HAD RECEIVED A REQUEST OF E-MAILS HE'S EXCHANGED WITH PEOPLE AFFILIATED WITH THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS. THE LFT IS A TEACHERS UNION OPPOSED TO JINDAL'S PLANS TO CREATE A STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT USES TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND TO REWORK TEACHER PAY AND JOB PROTECTIONS. THE RECORDS REQUEST WAS FILED BY BRYAN JEANSONNE, THE LAW PARTNER OF JASON DORE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THE LOUISIANA HOUSE HAS SCHEDULED FLOOR DEBATE THURSDAY ON THE EDUCATION PROPOSALS.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT RELEASED YESTERDAY, MORE THAN A DOZEN STATE-FUNDED GROUP HOMES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED ARE UNSAFE, UNCLEAN AND UNHEALTHY FOR RESIDENTS WHO ARE AMONG THE STATE'S MOST VULNERABLE CITIZENS. THE REVIEW BY THE ADVOCACY CENTER, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT VISITED GROUP HOMES AND LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION DATA OVER THREE YEARS, SAID DISABLED RESIDENTS TOO OFTEN WEREN'T GIVEN THE MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT, MEDICAL CARE AND PROTECTION THEY SHOULD RECEIVE. EMPLOYEES AT THE HOMES WEREN'T PROPERLY TRAINED AND SUPERVISED, THE REPORT SAID. MORE THAN 4,000 PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES IN LOUISIANA LIVE IN 509 PRIVATELY-RUN, BUT PUBLICLY-FUNDED GROUP HOMES.

LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ARREST A WOMAN FOR THE FEBRUARY 6TH DEATH OF HER 9-MONTH-OLD BABY. SHERIFF'S CAPTAIN KIP JUDICE (JOO-DEECE) SAYS A BLOOD TOXICOLOGY REPORT WAS ORDERED ON THE CHILD'S REMAINS. JUDICE SAYS LETHAL LEVELS OF OXYCODONE AND OXYMORPHONE--BOTH POWERFUL ADULT PAIN MEDS--WERE FOUND IN THE CHILD'S SYSTEM. HE SAYS 30-YEAR-OLD CHRISTINA MENARD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH 2ND-DEGREE MURDER IN THE CHILD'S DEATH.

LOUISIANA'S AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER URGES SENIORS ON LIMITED INCOMES TO APPLY FOR COUPONS THAT CAN BE USED FOR LOCALLY GROWN FRESH FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND OTHER FOOD AT FARMERS MARKETS AND ROADSIDE STANDS. TO QUALIFY, PEOPLE MUST BE AT LEAST 60 YEARS OLD AND EARN LESS THAN 185 PERCENT OF THE POVERTY LEVEL. THAT MEANS AT MOST $20,147 FOR A ONE-PERSON HOUSEHOLD AND $27,214 FOR A TWO-PERSON HOUSEHOLD. COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS THE STATE HAS $342,790 FOR THIS YEAR'S PROGRAM. COUPONS WILL BE MAILED AT THE END OF MAY.

A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE IT UNLAWFUL FOR A CARETAKER TO FAIL TO REPORT A CHILD MISSING AFTER 24 HOURS, PASSED OUT OF A SENATE COMMITTEE YESTERDAY MORNING. THE BILL IS DESIGNED TO PREVENT A SITUATION LIKE THE ONE THAT RESULTED IN THE DISAPPEARANCE AND DEATH OF CAYLEE ANTHONY IN FLORIDA. IN COMMITTEE, OUACHITA PARISH DA JERRY JONES SAID IN THE CAYLEE ANTHONY CASE, CAUSE OF DEATH COULDN'T BE DETERMINED BECAUSE THE CHILD HAD BEEN DEAD FOR SO LONG BY THE TIME SHE WAS FOUND. HE SAYS THIS BILL WOULD REMEDY SIMILAR SITUATIONS. THE BILL CLEARED THER COMMITTEE AND HEADS NOW TO THE SENATE FLOOR.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SAYS A NEW IBERIA MAN IS ACCUSED OF SHOCKING FISH. ENFORCEMENT DIVISION SPOKESMAN ADAM EINCK SAYS 33-YEAR-OLD JAMES J. BOURG COULD FACE UP TO $3,400 IN FINES AND 15 MONTHS IN JAIL IF CONVICTED ON ALL CHARGES AGAINST HIM. HE SAYS AGENTS ARRESTED BOURG ON MARCH 16 AFTER WATCHING HIM TAKE FISH BY SHOCKING THEM IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN IN IBERIA PARISH. A NEWS RELEASE SAYS AGENTS CONFISCATED THE SHOCKING DEVICE, PARTS FOR MORE, TWO STOLEN CRAB TRAPS, 65 POUNDS OF CATFISH AND BOURG'S 16-FOOT BOAT AND 50-HORSEPOWER MOTOR. EINCK SAYS THE AGENTS ALSO FOUND RECORDS SHOWING THAT HE HAD TAKEN AND SOLD CATFISH WITHOUT THE REQUIRED LICENSES OR COMPLETING TRIP TICKETS AND LABELING REQUIREMENTS ON PACKAGES OF FISH FOR SALE.

God Bless America!

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