KSYL Local News

News For Thursday 08/02/12


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 080212
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IT SEEMS HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT THE HISTORIC HOTEL BENTLEY IN DOWNTOWN ALEXANDRIA HAS BEEN CLOSED FOR CLOSE TO EIGHT YEARS. BUT, THERE’S GOOD NEWS, IT APPEARS THE BENTLEY WILL BE SOLD LATER THIS MONTH TO LOCAL DEVELOPER MICHAEL JENKINS. JENKINS INTENDS TO CONVERT THE SEVEN-STORY TOWER INTO UP TO 28 LUXURY CONDOMINIUMS. THE OLDER PORTION OF THE PROPERTY WILL REMAIN A HOTEL WITH 96 ROOMS AVAILABLE.

NINE CURRENT AND FORMER CLECO CORP. EMPLOYEES ARE SUING THE UTILITY AND ITS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR AT LEAST $18 MILLION IN A LAWSUIT THAT CLAIMS CEO BRUCE WILLIAMSON MADE THREATS IN A SETTLEMENT LETTER TO THE EMPLOYEES IN A RELATED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT THAT IS ONGOING. THE FEDERAL LAWSUIT, FILED WEDNESDAY, CLAIMS WILLIAMSON AND CLECO COMPOSED THE LETTER “IN A WAY CALCULATED TO INTIMIDATE AND PUNISH THE PLAINTIFFS.” WILLIAMSON IN DECEMBER WROTE THE LETTER TO PLAINTIFFS WHO IN 2009 FILED A RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE UTILITY. WILLIAMSON BYPASSED THE ATTORNEYS AND DIRECTLY OFFERED $10,000 AND ATTORNEY FEES TO EACH OF THE 12 PLAINTIFFS TO SETTLE THE CASE. NINE OF THE PLAINTIFFS IN THE FIRST SUIT FILED THE CIVIL COMPLAINT YESTERDAY.

ACCORDING TO A NEW STUDY BY THE GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY CENTER ON EDUCATION, LOUISIANA RANKS DEAD LAST IN THE NATION WHEN IT COMES TO HAVING JOBS AVAILABLE THAT A COLLEGE GRADUATE WOULD WANT. BUT LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION EXEC. DIR. CURT EYSINK SAYS THE STATE HAS MADE MARKED IMPROVEMENTS OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS TO REVERSE THIS TREND. THE REPORT SAYS THAT THAT FROM 2000 TO 2010, LOUISIANA LOST MORE THAN 3200 WORKERS WITH AT LEAST A BACHELOR'S DEGREE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 35 AND 64. EYSINK SAYS REPORTS LIKE THIS ARE INFLUENCED BY THE HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE OF OUR SCHOOLS AND THE NUMBER OF DROPOUTS WE'VE PRODUCED IN YEARS PAST.

A NEW LAW, AIMED AT BOOSTING PARTICIPATION IN PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES GOES INTO EFFECT. WINFIELD SENATOR GERALD LONG SPONSORED THE NEW LAW. LONG SAYS IT OCCURRED TO HIM, DURING THE DEBATE ON SCHOOL REFORM, THAT TOO MUCH PRESSURE IS BEING PUT ON TEACHERS TO BE BOTH A TEACHER AND A PARENT. HE WROTE THE NEW LAW TO GIVE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND ADMINISTRATORS THE MEANS TO ENFORCE A TEACHERS REQUEST FOR A CONFERENCE. THE LAW EMPOWERS LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO PUNISH PARENTS OR GUARDIANS WHO FAIL TO MAKE THEIR PARENT-TEACHER MEETINGS.

A TROPICAL DEPRESSION IN THE MID-ATLANTIC IS HEADED IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER GIVES THE SYSTEM A GOOD CHANCE OF BECOMING A NAMED STORM WITHIN A FEW DAYS. WITH THAT IN MIND, STATE AGENCIES REPORT THEY'RE READY TO RESPOND TO A NATURAL DISASTER. KEVIN DAVIS IS DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY & EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS. HE SAYS LOUISIANA CITIZENS MUST ALSO DO THEIR PART TO PREPARE AND HAVE A GAME PLAN. STATE AGENCIES REPORT PLENTY OF SHELTER SPACE HAS BEEN ARRANGED, EMERGENCY SUPPLIES ARE IN PLACE AND EVACUATION AND CONTRAFLOW PLANS ARE READY TO IMPLEMENT IF NECESSARY.

THE STATE'S CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION NARROWLY AGREED WEDNESDAY TO THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION'S HIRING OF A PRIVATE COMPANY TO MANAGE A STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN, A COST-CUTTING MOVE THAT WILL ELIMINATE 177 FULL-TIME GOVERNMENT JOBS. THE PANEL VOTED 3-2 TO ALLOW BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD TO RUN AN INSURANCE PLAN IN THE OFFICE OF GROUP BENEFITS THAT COVERS MORE THAN 62,000 EMPLOYEES, RETIREES AND THEIR DEPENDENTS. THE OUTSOURCING WILL TAKE EFFECT JAN. 1.

DOCTORS BELIEVE A THIBODAUX MAN ACCUSED OF DECAPITATING HIS DISABLED 7-YEAR-OLD SON NEARLY A YEAR AGO IS COMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL, COURT DOCUMENTS SHOW.
DOCTORS HAVE BEEN TREATING JEREMIAH WRIGHT, 31, AT THE FELICIANA FORENSIC FACILITY IN JACKSON FOR THE PAST NINE MONTHS. A COMPETENCY HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 21, DURING WHICH THE PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE WILL CALL ON EXPERT WITNESSES TO TESTIFY ABOUT WRIGHT'S MENTAL STATE. DOCTORS' RESULTS SHOW THAT WHILE HE WAS BEING TREATED, WRIGHT WAS EXAGGERATING ILLNESS TO AVOID TRIAL

SAD NEWS OUT OF LOUISIANA TECH TODAY. THE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCED ITS LIVE MASCOT, TECH XX, HAS PASSED AWAY. IN A STATEMENT FROM DOCTOR PATRICK SEXTON, HE ADMITS ONE HIS EMPLOYEES LEFT THE ENGLISH BULLDOG OUTSIDE TOO LONG ON SUNDAY AND TECH 20 DIED AS A RESULT OF A HEAT STROKE. HE SAID AN EMPLOYEE TRIED TO COVER THE DEATH UP AND REPORTED THE DOG MISSING.

LOUISIANA IS WAITING TO HEAR IF REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY WILL CALL ON GOVERNOR JINDAL TO BE HIS RUNNING MATE. ROMNEY PLANS ON LETTING THE WORLD KNOW THROUGH A NEW SMARTPHONE APP CALLED MITT'S V-P. INSIDERS SAY THE DECISION COULD COME THIS WEEK.

A NEW ORLEANS TV STATION REPORTS THAT A PERSON IN TANGIPAHOA PARISH HAS DIED OF WEST NILE VIRUS. 79-YEAR-OLD RAYMOND STEVENS WAS A DAIRY FARMER AND WORKED OUTDOORS. HIS WIDOW TOLD THE TV STATION STEVENS' DOCTORS CONFIRMED NEUROINVASIVE WEST NILE AS CAUSE OF DEATH. THERE HAVE BEEN 33 REPORTED WEST NILE CASES STATEWIDE SO FAR.

JACK CALDWELL, WHO LED LOUISIANA'S DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES UNDER FORMER GOV. MIKE FOSTER, HAS DIED. CALDWELL DIED TUESDAY AT HIS DAUGHTER'S HOME IN NEW IBERIA. THE CAUSE OF DEATH HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED. JACK CALDWELL WAS 86.

A DISPUTE OVER LOUISIANA'S DELEGATES TO THIS MONTH'S REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION HAS SHIFTED TO THE NATIONAL GOP LEVEL. STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADERS LINING UP BEHIND PRESUMED NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY AND SUPPORTERS OF U.S. REP. RON PAUL COULDN'T REACH AN AGREEMENT OVER DELEGATES BY THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT THEM TO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE. DUELING CONVENTIONS IN SHREVEPORT BY THE TWO SIDES ELECTED SEPARATE DELEGATE SLATES IN JUNE, AND TWO SEPARATE, 46-MEMBER LISTS WERE SENT TO THE RNC.

A STATE JUDGE HAS RULED THAT FORMER SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM PRESIDENT RALPH SLAUGHTER MUST REPAY $275,000 TO THE SCHOOL'S PRIVATE FUNDRAISING ARM.
THE AMOUNT INCLUDES A $200,000 SALARY SUPPLEMENT FROM THE PRIVATE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM FOUNDATION THAT SLAUGHTER RECEIVED IN MARCH 2009, THE DAY THE PUBLIC SOUTHERN BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTED FOR SLAUGHTER TO VACATE HIS JOB WHEN HIS TWO-YEAR CONTRACT EXPIRED AT THE END OF JUNE 2009. THE OTHER $75,000 IS FOUNDATION MONEY THAT SLAUGHTER USED, TO AMONG OTHER THINGS, TO PAY ONE OF HIS ATTORNEYS AFTER HE SUED SOUTHERN OVER HIS DISMISSAL.

God Bless America!

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