News for Monday 120312
By Dave Graichen
A Baton Rouge judge rules Governor Bobby Jindal's new statewide voucher program in unconstitutional, because it illegally diverts money for public schools to pay for students to attend private and parochial schools. Judge Tim Kelley made the ruling after hearing three days of testimony. He heard oral arguments Friday, and ruled just a few hours later. Haynes says it's clear in the state Constitution that money placed in a fund for public schools can only be used for public education. The President of the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Penny Dastugue says an appeal of the ruling is a certainty.
Amid criticism and an ongoing investigation of New Orleans area U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office, there seems little doubt that President Obama will replace him soon. "LAPolitics.com" publisher and columnist John Maginnis says Letten had enjoyed bipartisan support until recently, when two of his top assistants admitted to posting anonymous and highly opinionated online comments about cases they were actively working. Maginnis says Letten himself has performed terrifically in bringing corrupt individuals to justice, but the actions of a few within his office have tarnished his reputation
A High School teacher from Lake Charles becomes the new leader of the state's largest National Guard Unit. Col Damian Waddell, who's been a guardsman for 17 years, takes over command of the 256th Infantry Combat Team. Waddell is a teacher and a coach at Sam Houston High School in Lake Charles as his civilian job. He says his first goal is to build up the strength of the 2-5-6 which is headquartered in Lafayette.
It is now official, LSU will play Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. central time on 96.9 KZMZ. The game will also be telecast on ESPN.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, here a good opportunity, staff from the Office of Public Health will administer flu and other vaccines from 1:30 to 3 p.m. this Wednesday at the Alexandria Museum of Art in downtown Alexandria. The office has a limited stock of flu vaccine, as well as some vaccines. Out-of-pocket expense will be a maximum $10.
Louisiana health officials report 11 new cases of West Nile virus this week, with one additional West Nile-related death. That brings the total number of West Nile cases in Louisiana this year to 382, with a death toll of 17. Four new neuroinvasive disease cases were reported this week were in Bossier, Calcasieu, St. Helena and Winn parishes. Five West Nile fever cases were in Bossier, Cameron, Concordia, East Feliciana and Orleans parishes. Two asymptomatic cases were in Grant and Pointe Coupee parishes.
A 22-year-old Lafayette Parish mother and her 21-year-old boyfriend are behind bars in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy. Sheriff's office spokesperson Captain Kip Judice says Landon Broussard was charged with 1st-degree murder for physically beating the boy, while the mother, Laura Smith, was charged with principal to first-degree murder. Judice says they found bruises on the little boy's body that were fresh and also some that were healing.
The trial of a former Ouachita Parish school teacher, accused of making bomb threats, begins today. 30-year-old David Reyna allegedly called in bomb scares at three Monroe area private schools in September. Legal analyst Tim Meche says, because Reyna confessed to the crime, his only
possible defense is to argue no ill intent. Court documents reveal that Reyna admitted to using illegal drugs and suffers emotional problems like depression, insomnia and more.
The Louisiana Department of the Treasury is publishing lists of the names of people who are entitled to unclaimed property in the public notice section of certain newspapers. If you're on one of the lists, all you have to do to claim your money is contact the state Treasury Department and get the ball rolling. The names of unclaimed property owners are available at www.LATreasury.com. A claim can be filed on the same website.
UNO has received a 1.5 million dollar grant from NASA to make improvements to the nation’s air traffic control system. Researchers at UNO will be joined by colleagues from LSU and Southern to create a new air traffic control system known as NextGen. Principal researcher Rong Li says the current system is strained to the limit and demand for air space is expected to double by 2025. NextGen will give pilots more control by getting better real-time information to them so they can make better decisions.
Owners of a failed brine storage cavern say they are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems created by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish. , Company spokesman Sonny Cranch said over the weekend, lawyers for Texas Brine Co. will review a $100,000 fine imposed Saturday by state Conservation Commissioner James Welsh, who said the company hasn't complied with his Nov. 12 order to speed work. Residents of 150 Bayou Corne-area homes evacuated in August, after the sinkhole formed. The still have not been allowed to return home.