KSYL Local News

News For Tuesday 06/19/12


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 061912
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD HAS DECIDED TO CONTINUE MOVING FORWARD WITH IT’S SEARCH FOR A NEW SUPERINTENDENT. THE BOARD, IN A SPECIAL MEETING YESTERDAY, VOTED TO ADVERTISE AND SOLICIT APPLICATIONS FOR THE JOB. BOARD MEMBER JANET DIXON SAID, THE VOTE WAS JUST A MOTION TO MOVE THE PROCESS FORWARD. THE BOARD VOTED 5-4 IN MAY NOT TO RENEW THE CONTRACT OF JONES, WHO HAS BEEN SUPERINTENDENT SINCE 2003. THE COMMITTEE CHARGED WITH MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BOARD ABOUT THE SHAPE THE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH SHOULD TAKE IS SCHEDULED TO HAVE ITS SECOND MEETING AT 5:30 P.M. TODAY.

THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD AGREED MONDAY TO A FRAMEWORK FOR A NEW STATEWIDE VOUCHER PROGRAM THAT WILL USE TAX DOLLARS TO SEND CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS WITHIN MONTHS, BUT WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS STILL BEING DEVISED BY THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. THE REGULATIONS LARGELY TRACK THE PROVISIONS INCLUDED IN THE LAW PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND PASSED BY THE LEGISLATURE EARLIER THIS YEAR. THEY INVOLVE REGISTRATION, STUDENT ENROLLMENT AND SCHOOL ELIGIBILITY. ONE EXCEPTION: BESE'S REGULATIONS WILL INCLUDE A CAP ON HOW MUCH PRIVATE SCHOOLS CAN RAISE TUITION AS THEY TAKE VOUCHER STUDENTS. THAT IS DESIGNED TO ADDRESS CONCERNS THAT THE SCHOOLS WILL SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THEIR RATES NOW THAT THE STATE IS PAYING FOR STUDENTS TO ATTEND.

FORMER LOUISIANA HOUSE SPEAKER JOE SALTER IS LEAVING HIS JOB AS THE DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. SALTER TOLD THE ADVOCATE THAT HE WAS LEAVING VOLUNTARILY TO TAKE A NEW JOB, THOUGH HE DECLINED TO SAY WHAT HE WILL BE DOING. HIS DEPARTURE TAKES EFFECT FRIDAY.A DEMOCRAT FROM THE SMALL TOWN OF FLORIEN, SALTER WAS HOUSE SPEAKER FROM 2004 TO 2008. HE WAS A LAWMAKER FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES. HE ALSO HAD WORKED AS A PRINCIPAL AND ASSISTANT SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT.

THREE COMPANIES ARE VYING FOR THE JOB OF MANAGING STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH PLANS. THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION REFUSED MONDAY TO DISCLOSE HOW MUCH MONEY BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD, HUMANA AND UNITED HEALTHCARE ARE SEEKING TO HANDLE HEALTH-CARE PREMIUMS FOR THE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS. MICHAEL DIRESTO, SPOKESMAN FOR THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATION, CITED A STATE LAW THAT STATES “DISCUSSIONS SHALL NOT DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION DERIVED FROM PROPOSALS SUBMITTED BY COMPETING PROVIDERS.” COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER SAID MONDAY THAT HE HOPES TO HIRE A THIRD-PARTY ADMINISTRATOR BY THE END OF SUMMER.

A NEW REPORT OUT SHOWS FEW STATES HAVE ENOUGH MONEY IN THEIR RETIREMENT SYSTEMS TO COVER ALL THE PENSIONS THEY'RE REQUIRED TO PAY IN COMING DECADES. ECONOMIC PROBLEMS HAVE DECREASED THE VALUE OF THEIR INVESTMENTS, AND MANY STATES HAVE SIMPLY FAILED TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR FULL SHARE TO RETIREMENT SYSTEMS.
EXPERTS SAY RETIREMENT SYSTEMS SHOULD HAVE ASSETS TO COVER AT LEAST 80 PERCENT OF THE MONEY THEY OWE IN THE LONG RUN. THE REPORT INCLUDED A TOP 10 LIST OF STATES WITH THE LOWEST CONTRIBUTIONS. LOUISIANA CAME IN AT #5. LOUISIANA: HAS COVERED 56 PERCENT OF THE $41.4 BILLION IT OWES LONG-TERM.

THE NFL INSISTS IT HAS EVIDENCE GALORE IN THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS BOUNTY PROGRAM, AND EVEN MADE SOME OF IT PUBLIC ON MONDAY. THE PLAYERS AND LAWYERS INVOLVED WEREN'T IMPRESSED. ON A STRANGE DAY THAT INCLUDED A MORNING ADJOURNMENT OF THE HEARINGS WITH NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL, FOLLOWED BY ONE OF THE SUSPENDED PLAYERS, JONATHAN VILMA, OPTING NOT TO RETURN FOR AFTERNOON SESSIONS, THE LEAGUE SHOWED REPORTERS SOME OF THE 20,000 DOCUMENTS IT SAYS INVESTIGATORS UNCOVERED. AMONG THE THINGS THE LEAGUE REVEALED: A PRIZE OF $35,000 FOR KNOCKING BRETT FAVRE OUT OF THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IN JANUARY 2010.

MORE THAN THE IMAGE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION IS AT STAKE WHEN IT HOLDS ITS ANNUAL MEETING THIS WEEK TO ELECT A NEW LEADER WHO COULD BE ITS FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT. THE FUTURE OF THE NATION'S LARGEST PROTESTANT DENOMINATION WEIGHS IN THE MINDS OF CHURCH LEADERS AS THEY CONSIDER HOW TO REVERSE DECLINING MEMBERSHIP BY ATTRACTING MORE BELIEVERS TO ITS CHURCHES IN A COUNTRY THAT IS MORE DIVERSE THAN EVER. THE REV. FRED LUTER JR., A FORMER STREET PREACHER FROM NEW ORLEANS' LOWER 9TH WARD WHO FOUNDED FRANKLIN AVENUE BAPTIST CHURCH, IS CURRENTLY UNOPPOSED FOR PRESIDENT OF THE SBC. WHILE IT'S POSSIBLE THAT CHALLENGERS COULD JUMP INTO THE RACE, MOST OBSERVERS THINK LUTER WILL BE ELECTED.

GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS USED THE LINE-ITEM VETO TO CUT FUNDING FOR TWO STATE AGENCIES, WHOSE LEADERS HAVE BEEN CRITICAL OF HIS POLICIES. STATE TREASURER JOHN KENNEDY HAD OVER A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS STRIPPED FROM HIS BUDGET, AFTER QUESTIONING THE GOVERNOR'S PATCHWORK APPROACH TO BALANCING THE STATE BUDGET. LT. GOVERNOR JAY DARDENNE COMPLAINED EARLIER THIS YEAR ABOUT NOT GETTING ENOUGH MONEY FOR TOURISM ADVERTISING. LAST WEEK, MR. JINDAL VETOED
$2-MILLION IN MARKETING FUNDS FROM DARDENNE'S DEPARTMENT. BOTH MEN SAY HOWEVER, THAT THEY WILL MAKE DO DESPITE THE CUTS TO THEIR BUDGETS.

LONG-TIME CALCASIEU TEACHERS ANGIE BONVILLAIN AND BRENDA ROMERO LAUNCHED RECALL DRIVES AGAINST HOUSE SPEAKER CHUCK KLECKLEY AND GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL. IT WILL TAKE ABOUT 957-THOUSAND SIGNATURES TO RECALL JINDAL. BOTH DRIVES HAVE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 19TH TO GATHER THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF SIGNATURES. STATE GOP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JASON DORE SAYS THE RECALL EFFORTS ARE VIOLATING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS, SINCE THEY HAVEN'T DISCLOSED WHO FUNDING THEIR EFFORTS. BONVILLAIN SAYS THEY ARE TALKING WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S
OFFICE TO MAKE SURE THEIR RECALL PETITION IS NOT ILLEGAL. THE TEACHERS ARE UPSET WITH RECENTLY PASSED EDUCATION REFORMS THAT WERE RUSHED THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE.

STATE TROOPERS SAY A WOMAN IS DEAD AFTER BEING RUN OVER BY TWO VEHICLES ON I-10 IN NEW ORLEANS. POLICE SAY SHE WAS TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM HER BOYFRIEND WHO WAS BEATING HER UP. THE 35 YEAR OLD VICTIM WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. THE BOYFRIEND FACES BATTERY AND MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES. THE DRIVERS WHO HIT THE WOMAN WERE NOT CHARGED.

A 16-MONTH-OLD HOUMA GIRL WAS STRUCK AND KILLED OVER THE WEEKEND, WHILE STANDING IN HER DRIVEWAY, BY A VEHICLE DRIVEN BY HER OWN MOTHER. HOUMA POLICE SAYS IT HAPPENED JUST BEFORE NOON SATURDAY. NO TICKETS OR CHARGES WERE HANDED OUT IN THE ACCIDENT. AUTHORITIES SAY THE UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT WAS SIMPLY THE RESULT OF THE PARENTS BEING INATTENTIVE FOR JUST A MOMENT. THE POLICE REPORT SHOWS THE MOTHER HAD NEITHER DRUGS NOR ALCOHOL IN HER
SYSTEM AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT.

ONE OF THE TWO SUSPECTS IN THE MURDER AND DISMEMBERMENT OF A FRENCH QUARTER EXOTIC DANCER HAS BEEN ORDERED TO UNDERGO A PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION. 28-YEAR-OLD MARGARET SANCHEZ HAS BEEN MOVED TO A MENTAL HOSPITAL IN HAMMOND. SANCHEZ AND HER COMPANION, TERRY SPEAKS, WERE SEEN ON SURVEILLANCE VIDEOS LEAVING A BOURBON STREET STRIP CLUB WITH 22-YEAR-OLD JAREN LOCKHART. PARTS OF HER BODY WASHED UP ON MISSISSIPPI BEACHES A FEW DAYS LATER.

AN UPTICK IN GLOBAL DEMAND IS HELPING LOUISIANA'S ALLIGATOR INDUSTRY STAGE A COMEBACK. GATOR FARMS REPORT RISING SALES OF SKINS TO MARKETS IN EUROPE AND ASIA. LSU AQUACULTURE SPECIALIST MARK SHIRLEY SAYS THE INDUSTRY IS FINALLY SHOWING SIGNS OF RENEWED LIFE AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF SHRINKING SALES.

A GROUP OF FILIPINO GUEST WORKERS WHO ALLEGE IN A LAWSUIT THAT THEIR LOUISIANA-BASED EMPLOYERS SUBJECTED THEM TO INHUMANE WORKING AND LIVING CONDITIONS CLAIM COMPANY OFFICIALS HAVE THREATENED SOME OF THEM WITH DEPORTATION UNLESS THEY DROP THE CASE. A FEDERAL JUDGE ON MONDAY ISSUED AN ORDER BARRING GRAND ISLE SHIPYARD INC. AND DNR-OFFSHORE AND CREWING INC., A JOB-PLACEMENT FIRM, FROM CONTACTING ANY OF THE 20 WORKERS. THE WORKERS' CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT CLAIMS THEY WERE CONFINED TO CRAMPED LIVING QUARTERS AND FORCED TO WORK LONG HOURS FOR SUBSTANDARD PAY. LAWYERS FOR THE COMPANIES SAY THE WORKERS' CLAIMS ARE FALSE AND SHOULD BE DISMISSED. SEVERAL RECRUITING AGENCIES THAT HELPED THE WORKERS SECURE VISAS ALSO ARE NAMED AS DEFENDANTS IN THE CASE.

IT'S BEEN OVER TWO YEARS SINCE THE BP OIL SPILL COMPLETELY WIPED OUT OYSTER BEDS IN LOUISIANA, AND IT SEEMS SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT HARVEST AREAS AREN'T COMING BACK AND NO ONE IS QUITE SURE WHY. MIKE VOISON IS ON THE STATE'S OYSTER ADVISORY COMMITTEE, HE SAYS MOST OF THE OYSTERS BEING PRODUCED RIGHT NOW ARE COMING FROM WESTERN AND CENTRAL LOUISIANA GULF COAST.

ONE OF THE LOANS USED TO FINANCE A TROUBLED TOLL BRIDGE IN COASTAL SOUTH LOUISIANA HAS BEEN DOWNGRADED TO JUNK BOND STATUS. FITCH RATINGS ANNOUNCED THE DOWNGRADE MONDAY OF A $66 MILLION OUTSTANDING FEDERAL LOAN THAT HELPED PAY FOR THE $161 MILLION BRIDGE ON LA. HIGHWAY 1 IN LEEVILLE, JUST WEST OF GRAND ISLE. FITCH SAID IT DOWNGRADED THE BOND RATING BECAUSE OF THE WEAK PERFORMANCE OF THE TOLL COLLECTIONS. THE RATING AGENCY SAID THERE'S A "STRONG LIKELIHOOD" OF A DEFAULT ON THE LOAN WITHOUT A RESTRUCTURING OF THE DEBT.

God Bless America!

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