News for Friday 042613
By Dave Graichen
An article in today’s Town Talk reports a major Louisiana College donor has announced it no longer will support the college “due to actions of President [Joe] Aguillard.
The Cason Foundation has donated $5 million to the private Baptist college in Pineville over the last 2 1/2 years to fund the Caskey School of Divinity. Edgar Cason, who established the foundation along with his wife, Flo, sent a letter dated April 15 to members of the LC Board of Trustees announcing he was withdrawing all future financial support. A report after an investigation by an independent New Orleans law firm, found that Aguillard had improperly diverted nearly $60,000 in funds donated to the Divinity School for use in LC’s projects in Tanzania, Africa. A separate internal committee composed of five LC board members has issued a report saying Aguillard did nothing wrong.
The Rapides Parish School Board approved a three-year contract for Superintendent Nason “Tony” Authement, who will begin work June 1. The contract includes a $160,000 base salary, an $800 monthly expense account and $3,500 for moving expenses. Authement currently resides in Houma. Former Rapides Parish Superintendent Dr.Gary L. Jones earned $145,000 in the final year of his contract.
US Senator Mary Landrieu believes the strong support that's been on display from the local community could help Fort Polk avoid a reduction in troops. The Army is considering whether to reduce Fort Polk's personnel in half as it looks to reduce its active duty ranks. Landrieu says the Army should not overlook the significant investments that have been made on this base. Fort Polk is among 21 posts nationally that could see a significant reduction in soldiers.
A House committee approves legislation that delays implementing a new performance evaluation system for teachers for a year. The bill is by Minden Rep. Gary Reynolds. He says this is because of fierce opposition from teachers and teachers unions, who feel the new review method is flawed. Reynolds says his bill puts the whole thing
on hold. The so-called Compass evaluation method, also called the Value added
Model, uses student performance on standardized tests as half the teacher's performance evaluation. Reynolds says during the one-year delay, the system can be fine-tuned to satisfy all parties involved.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says he doubts legislative attempts to force Louisiana to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid will go anywhere this session. He says a lot of the problem is inconclusive data on what it would mean fiscally for the state to offer Medicaid coverage to about 400-thousand more residents who can't afford their
own health insurance. A House Committee rejected a Medicaid expansion bill this week. Kleckley says other proposed Medicaid bills will likely go nowhere. Governor Jindal says he'll veto any such bill that come to his desk.
In response to Decembers Connecticut school shooting, the House has passed a bill that requires state schools to work with local law enforcement to create a written crisis response plan, and to rehearse that plan as well. The bill goes to the Senate for committee assignment and review.
The House has passed legislation that allows anyone with a concealed weapon carry permit to bring their gun into a restaurant that serves alcohol. Haughton Rep. Henry Burns original bill applied only to off-duty cops, but during committee hearing he successfully amended the measure to include ALL CCP holders. The final vote was 63-25, sending the bill over to the Senate
The Senate Education Committee unanimously votes against a proposal to cap the TOPS scholarship program. The bill by Jennings Senator Blade Morrish faced opposition from the governor's office. Morrish says he filed the bill as a way to preserve the TOPS scholarship because it's becoming too costly for the for the state
to fund, as tuition costs continue to rise. The bill is essentially dead for the session.
The world famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival starts today, and local tourism officials are hoping for record attendance. Kelly Schulz, with the Greater New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the 2012 Jazz Fest brought just over 450-thousand visitors, from all over the globe, to the Crescent City. Also this weekend, the festival international continues in Lafayette.
A spokesman with Texas Brine says a seismic survey shows that the subsurface below the sinkhole in Assumption Parish is stable. They say hopefully residents in Bayou Corne will be able to return to their homes in early August. That would be a full year after they were evacuated.
The LSU College of Engineering has received a $15 million gift commitment from Phyllis M. Taylor to go towards the renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and construction of a chemical engineering facility. Rick Koubek (Co-Beck), Dean of the LSU College of Engineering, says this contribution is a game changer. Koubek says this is the largest private donation to the LSU College of Engineering in its history. He says the entire project is $100 million and the state has said it will come up with half if they come up with the other half.
Because of the federal sequestration's severe budget cuts an on-going project aimed at mapping the annual dead zone that forms off our coast each summer maybe dropped. The dead zone is caused by large-scale agriculture being dumped into the Mississippi that feeds into the Gulf. Mapping helps detect if programs created to end the problem are working.
This year's attempt at a law ensuring equal pay for men and women who do the same work has stalled. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee deadlocked with a 4-4 vote. Bill sponsor Senator Ed Murray of New Orleans can try it again in a future committee meeting.
Two of the top baseball programs in the country over the last five years meet in Alex Box Stadium tonight as LSU hosts South Carolina. Aaron Nola will be on the hill for the Tigers. You can hear the entire series on 970 KSYL. Airtime tonight, 6:30.