News for Monday 120913
By Dave Graichen
The rain Sunday stopped just in time for Alexandria’s annual Christmas parade. Crowds were down this year as were the number of those taking part in the parade. But, many of those attending said it was worth getting out in the cold. Other areas across the state were not so lucky as many towns were forced to either postpone or outright cancel their scheduled events.
LSU will spend the holidays in sunny Tampa, Fla., for the first time in 25 years. The Tigers will play Iowa in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Outback Bowl kickoff is set for noon at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be LSU’s second appearance in the Outback Bowl and first since losing to Syracuse following the 1988 season.
The Saints are in first place in the NFC South after clobbering Carolina 31-13 last night. Drew Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns. It was an historic night for Brees as he became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to surpass 50-thousand passing yards for his career. Brees accomplished the feat in just 183 games, the fastest of the 5 players.
For the first time in at least five years, many retired teachers, state workers and school system employees are in line for an increase in their pension checks. Louisiana’s four statewide retirement system boards are preparing to seek legislative approval of a general cost-of-living adjustment — likely between 1.5 percent and 2 percent — for tens of thousands of retirees over age 60. The cost-of-living adjustments, better known as COLAs, increase the regular benefits checks and must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. The next legislative session opens March 10.
Congressional District 2, as redrawn by the Legislature in 2011, looks like a wind-ruffled ribbon that curls from the eastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, through New Orleans, then up the Mississippi River to northern Baton Rouge. Three Baton Rouge residents of District 2 are asking U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick to declare the district’s boundaries racially gerrymandered. The plaintiffs also want Dick to bar Louisiana from holding the 2014 election in District 2 until it is redrawn.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s hard-fought bid to link teacher job reviews to the growth of student achievement , a key plank in his push to improve Louisiana’s public schools, has been sidelined until after he leaves office. The provision, which Jindal pushed through the Legislature in 2010, connects many of the roughly 50,000 annual teacher evaluations to how students fare in the classroom.
But that rule, which teacher unions bitterly oppose, has been set aside until at least the 2015-16 school year, in part because of complaints about the state’s adoption of tougher academic standards called Common Core.
Tolls, taxes and selling bonds backed by unclaimed property are some of the ideas floated to pay for construction of Interstate 49 South between Lafayette and the west bank of New Orleans. The State Bond Commission has approved the latter plan, to sell $20-million in bonds to get I-49 South started, using the state's unclaimed property fund as security. As of last July 1st, the state had over $120-million in unclaimed moneys, which could be used to secure the bonds.
LPB will air a documentary tonight that looks at the comeback of the Louisiana Black Bear. Black Bears have been on the Endangered Species List since 1992, when there were fewer than 300 of them in the world. Now there could be as many as one-thousand bears in the state.
Officials in Ascension Parish say they were taken by surprise by Shell's decision to bail out of a planned gas-to-liquids plant. The proposed plant would have employed over 750 at large salaries with benefits. Ascension Council Chairman Chris Loar says Shell blamed the high cost of the project, coupled with uncertainty in the long-term costs of oil and gas. He says he asked officials at Shell why they would bother making a site selection announcement if they weren't aware of the cost of the project. Shell says the estimated $12.5-billion construction cost had ballooned to over $20-billion, hence their decision.
Police in the Lafayette Parish town of Scott arrest a local man for allegedly beating up his wheelchair-bound girlfriend. Officers says the victim suffered facial bruised, a fractured eye socket and a broken rib. 38-year-old Gary Squires was arrested for domestic violence battery. He claims he was defending himself from her attack.
The District Attorney in Caddo Parish has decided not to file charges against the mother of a little girl who died last July, after being left locked in a hot vehicle for several hours. DA
Charles Scott says evidence indicates the incident was a tragic mistake, and that 31-year-old Krystal Delafosse will likely suffer the result of it for the rest of her life.
The former pastor who founded the Just for Jesus rallies in Lake Charles has been arrested again. This time officers say they found 52 year old James Bertrand parked on a dead end street with cocaine located on his center console and a needle in his lap. Bertrand has been arrested several times this year. His bond was set at $2.06 million dollars.