KSYL Local News

News For Wednesday Evening 5/2/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 050312
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS LINEBACKER JONATHAN VILMA WAS SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY FOR THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON BY THE NFL, ONE OF FOUR PLAYERS PUNISHED WEDNESDAY FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE TEAM'S CASH-FOR-HITS BOUNTY SYSTEM. DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTHONY HARGROVE, NOW WITH THE GREEN BAY PACKERS, WAS SUSPENDED FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE 16-GAME SEASON; SAINTS DEFENSIVE END WILL SMITH WAS BARRED FOR THE OPENING FOUR GAMES; AND LINEBACKER SCOTT FUJITA, NOW WITH THE CLEVELAND BROWNS, WILL MISS THE FIRST THREE GAMES. LIKE VILMA, THEY WERE SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY. ALL FOUR PLAYERS HAVE THREE DAYS TO APPEAL NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL'S RULING, AND THE HEAD OF THE NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION SAID THE UNION WOULD FIGHT THE PENALTIES. FUJITA IS A MEMBER OF THE NFLPA'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

THE USE OF HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING WOULD BE PROHIBITED IN LOUISIANA, IF SENATORS AGREE WITH THE LOUISIANA HOUSE. SIMILAR PROPOSALS HAVE FAILED IN RECENT YEARS TO GAIN TRACTION WITH THE LEGISLATURE. BUT NEW ORLEANS REP. AUSTIN BADON'S PROPOSAL PASSED IN A 59-29 VOTE WEDNESDAY. DEBATE ON THE IDEA SHIFTS TO THE SENATE. BADON, A DEMOCRAT, SAID HE PROPOSED THE BILL AS A SAFETY MEASURE. DRIVERS COULD USE A HANDS-FREE DEVICE TO TALK ON THE PHONE BEHIND THE WHEEL.

A TOP BUSINESS PUBLICATION RANKS LOUISIANA THE MOST IMPROVED STATE FOR BUSINESS IN THE USA. "CHIEF EXECUTIVE" MAGAZINE POLLED CEOS NATIONWIDE; THE RESULTS SHOWING LOUISIANA WENT FROM 27TH TO 13TH PLACE FOR BEST STATES FOR BUSINESS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE STATE HAS "WORKED TIRELESSLY TO CREATE A BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WHERE COMPANIES WANT TO INVEST AND CREATE JOBS".

A REWRITING OF THE STATE'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR WEAPON OWNERS, REMOVING A PROVISION THAT SPELLS OUT LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO LIMIT CONCEALED HANDGUNS, IS NEARING FINAL PASSAGE IN THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE.
THE HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE BACKED THE MEASURE IN A 9-5 VOTE WEDNESDAY, DESPITE CONCERNS THE CHANGE COULD NULLIFY MOST OF LOUISIANA'S GUN LIMITS AND OPEN THE DOOR TO CONCEALED WEAPONS IN SCHOOLS, BARS AND THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL. THE SENATE ALREADY HAS APPROVED THE PROPOSAL, WHICH HEADS NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

A PROPOSAL TO SHORTEN VOTING HOURS ON MOST ELECTION DAYS IN LOUISIANA HAS BEEN KILLED BY STATE SENATORS. THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, REPUBLICAN SEN. JODY AMEDEE OF GONZALES, CAST THE DECIDING VOTE WEDNESDAY TO KEEP THE HOUSE-APPROVED BILL TIED UP IN COMMITTEE, WITH A 4-4 VOTE.
OPPONENTS SAY THE CHANGE COULD LIMIT VOTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE. CURRENTLY, POLL HOURS RUN FROM 6 A.M. TO 8 P.M. THE MEASURE WOULD HAVE PUSHED BACK THE OPENING OF POLLS TO 7 A.M. ON SATURDAY ELECTIONS. SECRETARY OF STATE TOM SCHEDLER SAYS THE BILL WOULD SHORTEN WORK DAYS FOR POLL WORKERS. HE SAYS EVEN WITH THE CHANGE, THE STATE WOULD OFFER 79 HOURS TO VOTE WITH EARLY VOTING DAYS INCLUDED.

BILLS THAT WOULD HAVE KEPT STATE LAWMAKERS FROM LEAVING THE LEGISLATURE AND WALKING STRAIGHT INTO STATE JOBS WERE QUICKLY AND UNANIMOUSLY KILLED WEDNESDAY BY A HOUSE COMMITTEE. THE BILLS WOULD HAVE BLOCK HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS FROM TAKING JOBS IN STATE GOVERNMENT FOR UP TO TWO YEARS AFTER THEY LEAVE THE LEGISLATURE. REP. GREGORY MILLER, R-NORCO, LED THE OPPOSITION. HE COMPLAINED THAT THE BILLS IMPLY THAT LAWMAKERS ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG BY TAKING STATE JOBS. A MOTION TO HOLD BOTH BILLS IN THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE PASSED WITHOUT OBJECTION, EFFECTIVELY KILLING THE MEASURES.

SEVEN PEOPLE IN BATON ROUGE HAVE BEEN CHARGED AS PART OF A NATIONWIDE MEDICARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION. BILL ROOT IS AGENT-IN-CHARGE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES' INSPECTOR GENERAL. HE SAYS SEVEN EMPLOYEES, WITH THE SERENITY COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER, AND THE SHIFA COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND ARE ACCUSED OF BILKING MEDICARE OUT OF OVER $200-MILLION OVER PERIOD OF YEARS. ROOT SAYS THE SEVEN SUSPECTS FACE SERIOUS FEDERAL CHARGES, AND PROBABLE PRISON TIME.

A FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN NEW ORLEANS HAS INDICTED A FORMER BP ENGINEER ON CHARGES HE DELETED ABOUT 300 TEXT MESSAGES THAT INDICATED THE COMPANY'S BLOWN-OUT MACONDO WELL WAS SPEWING FAR MORE CRUDE THAN BP WAS TELLING THE PUBLIC AFTER THE 2010 OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. WEDNESDAY'S INDICTMENT CHARGES KURT MIX, OF KATY, TEXAS, WITH TWO COUNTS OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. COURT RECORDS SHOW MIX IS SCHEDULED TO BE ARRAIGNED THURSDAY IN NEW ORLEANS.
MIX WAS ARRESTED IN TEXAS ON APRIL 24 AND FREED ON BOND.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGED AN APPEALS COURT ON WEDNESDAY TO BLOCK SHELL FROM DRILLING 10 NEW DEEP-WATER WELLS OFF ALABAMA'S COAST, ARGUING THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS HAVEN'T PROPERLY REVIEWED THE RISKS OF UNDERSEA DRILLING IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2010 GULF OF MEXICO SPILL. THE COALITION OF GREEN GROUPS TOLD THE 11TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS THAT FEDERAL REGULATORS MERELY "RUBBER-STAMPED" SHELL'S PLANS TO DRILL THE WELLS IN THE SAME CANYON WHERE THE BLOWOUT OF BP'S MACONDO TOOK PLACE.

A 26-YEAR-OLD RAYNE WOMAN, WHO ALLEGEDLY LEFT HER FOUR CHILDREN UNSUPERVISED WHEN THEY DIED IN A MOBILE HOME FIRE, HAS BEEN INDICTED ON FOUR COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER. SHAQUETA MCDADE WAS CHARGED TUESDAY IN THE DEATHS OF 8, 7, 5 AND 2-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN. POLICE BELIEVE MCDADE WENT TO A BAR IN CHURCH POINT ON APRIL 22 AND WAS THERE WHEN HER MOBILE HOME CAUGHT FIRE, KILLING THE FOUR CHILDREN LEFT HOME ALONE. POLICE INITIALLY CHARGED MCDADE WITH NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE, BUT UPPED THE CHARGES AFTER THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY REVIEWED THE CASE.

THE FATE OF LAFAYETTE'S CONTROVERSIAL SAFELIGHT AND SAFESPEED PROGRAMS WILL BE DECIDED ON MAY 15 WHEN THE CITY-PARISH COUNCIL WILL VOTE TO EITHER SCRAP THE PROGRAM ENTIRELY OR TO BEEF UP ENFORCEMENT MEASURES WITH MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS. THE COUNCIL GAVE INTRODUCTORY APPROVAL TUESDAY TO TWO CONFLICTING RESOLUTIONS, ONE TO EXTEND THE PROGRAM AND ANOTHER TO REMOVE THE CAMERAS.
THREE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL SPONSORED AN ORDINANCE THAT WILL REMOVE THE CAMERAS FROM LAFAYETTE WHEN THE CURRENT CONTRACT EXPIRES JUNE 4. BUT, WITH AN 8-1 VOTE, THE COUNCIL THEN GAVE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO AN ORDINANCE SPONSORED BY CITY-PARISH PRESIDENT JOEY DUREL'S ADMINISTRATION TO EXTEND THE CONTRACT WITH REDFLEX TRAFFIC SYSTEMS INC. UNDER DUREL'S PROPOSED EXTENSION, REDFLEX WILL ADD MORE TRAFFIC CAMERAS AND SPEED VANS.

A TUESDAY AFTERNOON CRASH IN UNION PARISH HAS LEFT TWO CHILDREN AND THEIR MOTHER DEAD, AND THE FATHER IN CRITICAL CONDITION. STATE POLICE LT. JULIE LEWIS SAYS 34-YEAR-OLD JAMIE HAMILTON DROVE INTO THE PATH OF A MACK DUMP TRUCK. HAMILTON AND HER TWO KIDS--AGES 8 AND 5 WERE KILLED. THE FATHER, JAY HAMILTON IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION.

AN ASCENSION PARISH FAMILY IS GRIEVING TODAY OVER THE LOSS OF A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WAS STRUCK BY A TRAIN IN GONZALES AND DIED LAST NIGHT AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL. GONZALES POLICE SAY THE LITTLE GIRL'S FAMILY LIVED ABOUT A BLACK AWAY FROM THE TRACKS. HE SAYS THE VICTIM AND HER OLDER SISTER, ALONG WITH TWO
OTHER CHILDREN WERE ON THEIR WAY HOME AFTER PLAYING AT A NEARBY PARK.

SEN. A.G. CROWE HAD LIMITED SUCCESS WEDNESDAY WITH HIS ATTEMPT TO REVIVE A BILL HE SAYS WOULD CLARIFY THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS THE POWER TO SET ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, AND THAT CRITICS SAY COULD BE USED TO FOSTER DISCRIMINATION.AFTER SHELVING CROWE'S BILL EARLY IN THE SESSION, SENATORS VOTED TO DEBATE IT WEDNESDAY. HOWEVER, THE VOTE TO PASS THE BILL WAS 16-13 IN FAVOR — BUT IT NEEDS 20 VOTES IN THE 39-MEMBER SENATE. STATE LAW ALREADY PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION ON SIX FACTORS: RACE, RELIGION, NATIONAL ANCESTRY, AGE, SEX OR DISABILITY. CROWE'S PROPOSAL WOULD PREVENT STATE AGENCIES FROM ADDING TO THAT LIST WHEN WRITING NON-DISCRIMINATION CLAUSES INTO CONTRACTS OR BIDS. THE BILL HAD THE SUPPORT OF THE CONSERVATIVE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM AND THE LOUISIANA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS.






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