KSYL Local News

News For Friday 04/20/12


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 042012
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT TOOK A JURY LESS THAN AN HOUR THURSDAY TO CONVICT PHILLIP RAINES OF SEXUAL BATTERY, FINDING A FORMER REGISTERED NURSE GUILTY OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING AN APPENDECTOMY PATIENT IN MAY 2009 AS THE VICTIM LAY RECOVERING AFTER SURGERY.
RAINES FACES UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON WITHOUT A CHANCE OF PAROLE, PROBATION OR EARLY RELEASE. STATE DISTRICT JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER TENTATIVELY SET A SENTENCING HEARING FOR MAY 4. RAINES WILL REMAIN FREE ON BOND UNTIL THEN.

THE LOUISIANA RURAL WATER ASSOCIATION'S ANNUAL CONVENTION IS COMING BACK TO ALEXANDRIA IN JULY. BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A NUMBER OF THE YEARS, THE CONVENTION WON'T BE HELD AT THE ALEXANDRIA RIVERFRONT CENTER. IT LOOKED FOR A WHILE AS IF THE GROUP WOULD MOVE THEIR CONVENTION TO LAFAYETTE. PAT CREDEUR, THE ASSOCIATION'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HAD GROWN INCREASINGLY FRUSTRATED, AND VOCAL ABOUT THOSE FRUSTRATIONS, WITH THE ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE ALEXANDER FULTON HOTEL. TWO ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS INITIATED NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATION AND THE BEST WESTERN. THOSE NEGOTIATIONS AND A $25,000 GRANT FROM THE CENTRAL LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY HAS CONVINCED THE GROUP TO GIVE ALEXANDRIA ONE MORE TRY. THE CONVENTION, ALONG WITH IT’S 1,200 TO 1,300 ATTENDEES WILL BE IN TOWN THIS JULY.

TODAY MARKS THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEEPWATER HORIZON WELL EXPLOSION WHICH TOOK THE LIVES OF ELEVEN WORKERS AND INJURED 17 OTHERS. THE EVENT TOUCHED OFF THE LARGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY. GARRET GRAVES, CHAIRMAN OF THE COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY SAYS
HE SAYS HE IS FRUSTRATED BY THE LACK OF ONGOING CLEANUP EFFORTS BY B-P AND THE COAST GUARD. LOUISIANA WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES SECRETARY ROBERT BARHAM SAYS THERE ARE SIGNS THAT THE RECOVERY IS TAKING HOLD. BUT, HE SAYS, THERE ARE STILL
AREAS ALONG OUR GULF COAST THAT SILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO TO GET BACK
TO PRE-SPILL LEVELS OF PRODUCTIVITY.

TWO YEARS AFTER THE BP OIL SPILL, RESEARCHERS ARE TRYING TO FIND OUT IF SICK FISH FOUND IN GULF WATERS ARE SICK BECAUSE OF THE OIL, OR THE OIL DISPERSANTS USED. STEPHEN MURAWSKI, PROFESSOR AND RESEARCHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA, WAS PART OF A GROUP LOOKING INTO THE PROBLEM LAST SUMMER. HE SAYS THEIR NEXT CHALLENGE IS ASSIGNING BLAME FOR THE ILL EFFECTS ON MARINE LIFE.. HE SAYS, SO FAR, THEIR RESEARCH HAS NOT SHOWN ANY RISK TO THE CONSUMER FROM EATING FISH TAKEN FROM THE GULF.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS REJECTED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REPEAL THE CONTROVERSIAL SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT, WHICH ALLOWS ALTERNATE TEXT MATERIALS TO BE USED IN SCIENCE CLASS DISCUSSIONS. OPPONENTS SAYS IT'S BRINGING DIVINE CREATION THEORY INTO THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM. THE COMMITTEE DIDN'T AGREE.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION JOHN WHITE SAYS HE'LL REACH OUT TO EDUCATORS FOR HELP FORMULATING PLANS FOR PUTTING NEWLY PASSED EDUCATION
REFORMS INTO EFFECT. WHITE SAYS HE WILL CONDUCT 22 MEETINGS WITH TEACHERS IN 16 CITIES, OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS.. WHITE CALLS THE OUTREACH INITIATIVE "LOUISIANA BELIEVES". HE ASKS TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS TO WORK WITH HIM TO ACHIEVE A CENTRAL OBJECTIVE OF ENSURING ALL STUDENTS ARE ON TRACK TO EARNING A COLLEGE DEGREE OR STARTING A PROFESSIONAL CAREER. WHITE SAYS THE MEETINGS WILL TAKE PLACE ACROSS THE STATE BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR IN MAY. WHITE WILL MEET AT 4 P.M. MAY 2 WITH RAPIDES PARISH TEACHERS AT PEABODY HIGH SCHOOL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S TOP BUDGET ADVISER SAYS HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW LARGE A HOLE IS LEFT IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET BECAUSE OF CHANGES MADE TO THE GOVERNOR'S RETIREMENT PROPOSALS. JINDAL'S ASKING LAWMAKERS TO PUSH BACK THE RETIREMENT AGE AND BOOST THEIR PENSION COSTS FOR RANK-AND-FILE STATE EMPLOYEES. HIS BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDED SAVINGS THAT AGENCIES COULD REAP FROM THE CHANGES.
BUT AFTER RUNNING INTO RESISTANCE FOR THE IDEAS, THE GOVERNOR AGREED TO REWORK THE MEASURES , INCLUDING ONE CHANGE THAT WILL DIRECT THE INCREASED PAYMENTS BY WORKERS TO PAY DOWN RETIREMENT DEBT, RATHER THAN TO LESSEN STATE DEPARTMENT COSTS. SENATORS COMBING THROUGH NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET ASKED COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER HOW MUCH THOSE CHANGES LEAVE THE BUDGET OUT OF BALANCE. RAINWATER SAYS ANALYSTS ARE STILL TRYING TO DETERMINE THE IMPACT.

THE STATE HOUSE SENDS LEGISLATION TO THE SENATE THAT CALLS FOR JAIL TIME FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARRESTED TWICE FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED WITHIN A ONE YEAR SPAN. THE BILL CALLS FOR A MINIMUM MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCE OF 30 DAYS ON
A CONVICTION OF A SECOND OFFENSE D-W-I WHEN THE ARREST FOR THE SECOND
OFFENSE OCCURRED WITHIN ONE YEAR OF THE FIRST DWI.

A HEARING IN FEDERAL COURT MAY DETERMINE WHETHER A FORMER LOUISIANA CONGRESSMAN WILL HAVE TO BEGIN SERVING A 13-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR TAKING BRIBES AND OTHER CRIMES. DEMOCRAT WILLIAM JEFFERSON WAS CONVICTED BACK IN 2009 BUT HAS BEEN FREE ON BOND WHILE APPEALING HIS CASE. THE CASE DREW HEADLINES WHEN FBI AGENTS FOUND $90,000 CASH HIDDEN IN JEFFERSON'S FREEZER.

THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A MEASURE THAT WOULD ALLOW CERTAIN ELDERLY PRISON INMATES--SERVING LIFE SENTENCES--A CHANCE AT PAROLE. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH'S BILL WOULD NOT APPLY TO VIOLENT OFFENDERS OR SEX OFFENDERS. TO BE ELIGIBLE, THE INMATE MUST HAVE COMPLETED EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT WHILE IN PRISON, AND THEY MUST HAVE COMPETED 10 TO 25 YEARS OF THEIR LIFE SENTENCE. SMITH FEELS THAT IF THE INMATE IS NOT VIOLENT OR A PUBLIC SAFETY RISK, THEN THE STATE SHOULD CONSIDER SAVING SOME MONEY ON THEIR CARE AND HOUSING, BY LETTING THEM OUT EARLY. THAT BILL WILL
NOW GO OVER TO THE SENATE.

THE HOUSE HAS ALSO APPROVED A BILL REQUIRING THAT PARENTS OR CARETAKERS MUST REPORT ANY MISSING CHILD TO AUTHORITIES WITHIN A PRESCRIBED TIME, OR FACE POSSIBLE FINES AND JAIL TIME. THE BILL WAS INSPIRED BY THE TRAGIC CASE OF CAYLEE ANTHONY IN FLORIDA. CAYLEE'S DISAPPEARANCE WAS NOT REPORTED FOR SOME TIME. HER MOTHER, CASEY ANTHONY, WAS EVENTUALLY ACQUITTED OF THE CHILD'S MURDER.

KITTY KIMBALL--CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS--HAS ANNOUNCED SHE'S STEPPING DOWN FROM THE BENCH NEXT JANUARY. KIMBALL HAS SERVED AS A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE FOR THE PAST TWENTY YEARS AND WAS A DISTRICT JUDGE IN THE 18TH DISTRICT FOR TEN YEARS PRIOR TO HER ELECTION TO THE STATES HIGHEST COURT. KIMBALL SAYS SHE'S READY TO SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH HER FAMILY.

THE COAST GUARD REPORTS A SMALL AIRCRAFT, FLOWN BY A SLIDELL PHYSICIAN, HAS GONE DOWN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. PETTY OFFICER JOHN EDWARDS SAYS TWO F-15S WERE SCRAMBLED TO PACE THE PLANE, WHEN IT WAS REPORTED CIRCLING ERRATICALLY. HE SAYS THE F-15 WATCHED THE PLANE HIT THE WATER ABOUT 120 MILES WEST OF TAMPA. SLIDELL OB/GYN DR. PETER HERTZAK WAS FLYING THE PLANE. AUTHORITIES BELIEVE THE PILOT PASSED OUT BEHIND THE CONTROLS.

THERE'S GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS TODAY CONCERNING THE PRICE OF GASOLINE. TRIPLE-A FUEL ANALYST DON REDMAN SAYS THE AVERAGE STATEWIDE PRICE OF A GALLON OF REGULAR IS AT $3.79, DOWN A PENNY FROM THIS TIME LAST WEEK. HOWEVER, GROWING TENSIONS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND IRAN COULD BRING ANOTHER PRICE EXPLOSION AT ANYTIME. AND THAT'S PROBABLY GOING TO LEAD TO LESS TRAVELING THIS SUMMER.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION HAS GOTTEN PERMISSION TO REDIRECT FEDERAL HURRICANE RECOVERY MONEY FROM HOUSING AID PROGRAMS TO SUPERDOME UPGRADES. NEARLY $7 MILLION IS BEING MOVED FROM RECOVERY PROGRAMS, INCLUDING FISHERIES ASSISTANCE, SMALL BUSINESS LOANS AND HOUSING AID, TO ANOTHER PROGRAM THAT WILL HELP PAY FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SUPERDOME. THE PROPOSAL NEEDED APPROVAL FROM THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, WHICH OVERSEES THE SPENDING OF THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN BLOCK GRANT AID ALLOCATED TO LOUISIANA AFTER HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA IN 2005.

I-20 IN BOSSIER PARISH IS BACK TO NORMAL, AFTER BEING CLOSED OVER TEN HOURS YESTERDAY. THE REASON? A MULTI-VEHICLE WRECK INVOLVING A BIG RIG CARRYING EXPLOSIVES. THAT DEADLY CARGO SPILLED OUT ONTO THE ROADWAY, AND IT TOOK TIME AND CARE TO CLEAN IT UP SAFELY.

SPORTS..

THE BIGGEST COLLEGE BASEBALL SERIES OF THE SEASON GETS UNDERWAY TONIGHT AS TOP RANKED LSU VISITS SECOND RANKED KENTUCKY. THE WILDCATS ARE A SURPRISING 33-AND-5 AND OWN THE BEST TEAM BATTING AVERAGE IN THE SEC AND KENTUCKY HAS HIT THE SECOND MOST HOME RUNS IN THE LEAGUE. THE TIGERS HAVE WON 14 OF THEIR LAST 15 GAMES, INCLUDING THE LAST SEVEN IN A ROW.

God Bless America!

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