News for Monday 030413
By Dave Graichen
The department of children and family services announces residents on welfare are not allowed to use their cash assistance from the state on tobacco and liquor. They also can't use their eletronic benefit card at gambling sites and strip clubs. D-C-F-S Secretary Suzy Sonnier says this rule ensures that welfare money is used for the purpose intended. Sonnier says program recipients who violate the rule will have benefits suspended for a year for a 1st offense, 2 years for a 2nd offense and permanently on a 3rd violation.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals uncovers the theft of 800-thousand dollars in state funds by one of its employees. DHH spks Kristin Sunde (Sunday) says unusual accounting practices by an employee are what aroused their suspicions. Sunde says DHH initiated an internal investigation of the employee and missing funds. Sunde says DHH has formally notified the Legislative Auditors Office and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney, and presented the evidence they gathered. An arrest may be coming.
The Louisiana Attorney General's office says a one-point-two million dollar bond has been set on a 47-year-old Shreveport man charged with 50 counts of possession of pornography involving juveniles. Danny Owen Gorbet Junior was arrested last week and booked into the Caddo Parish Jail.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has made it known he might challenge U-S Senator Mary Landrieu next year. Dardenne said he's "pondering" a senate campaign after a national poll showed that he could have a chance at knocking off the three-term senator.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser announces plans to run for Lt. Governor again in 2015. In Nungesser's first attempt, he lost by nearly 60-thousand votes to Jay Dardenne in 2011. Nungesser made his intentions known while holding a fund raiser in Baton Rouge. The parish president told supporters he cares about Louisiana and has a lot to contribute.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette announces they've paid a 38-thousand dollar fine to the U-S Department of Agriculture over the deaths of three primates and the injury to another in unrelated incidents at their New Iberia Research Center. In a statement issued by U-L-L, it says they regret that these incidents occurred and they've made changes to reduce the chances of reoccurrences.
A federal grand jury indicts a Lafayette private investigator on charges of bribing employees of the Lafayette Parish DA's office and others. U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says 64-year-old Robert Williamson was the central figure in "fixing" outcomes of pre-trail diversions for clients; most of whom faced drunk driving charges. Finley says Williamson paid persons to provide false documents that would help his clients to favorably resolve drunk driving offenses, without going to trial.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says older drivers have higher death rates when involved in a crash than younger age groups. Spokesperson Elaine Rogeau says data from last year shows the fatal crash rate for 75 to 84-year-old drivers was 21-percent higher than the fatal crash rate for 55-to-64 year-old drivers. Rogeau says these numbers do not suggest elderly people are unable to drive safely, but they do show a person over 75-years-old is more likely to die in a crash when involved in a crash. She says it's concerning because we'll see more older drivers in the future.
Shreveport police arrest an assistant boys basketball coach at Calvary Baptist Academy because he allegedly had a sexual relationship with a student at the school. Thirty-two-year-old Patrick Williams was charged with four counts of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student. Investigators believe Williams and the student had an improper relationship that took
place for nearly two years.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says he has doubts about Governor Jindal's proposed $24.7-billion state budget for next year. Kennedy says the executive budget is, again, filled with contingencies that he worries will simply not work out. Part of the Governor's budget relies on the state making over $47-million off the sale of some unused state properties. Kennedy says there is no way of knowing if those sales will go through. Kennedy also worries that the Governor again seeks to use one-time windfalls of cash to plug recurring expenses. He says doing that in the past has resulted in 5 straight years wherein mid-year budget cuts were necessary.
State Rep. Regina Barrow has filed legislation aimed at preserving the retirement benefits of thousands LSU hospital employees in south Louisiana losing state jobs because of privatization. One bill would allow the LSU hospital employees to take a lump sum retirement benefit and move it to another qualified pension plan or investment account. Another bill would allow employees with 25 years-plus of service to retire at any age at full retirement. LSU has still not filed employee layoff plans with the Department of State Civil Service. How many employees will be impacted isn’t known. Employees of at least five LSU hospitals could lose their state jobs as the facilities are converted to management by private hospitals in those communities. Work is ongoing to find a private partner for a sixth hospital under LSU’s Health Care Services Division.