KSYL Local News Archives for 2011-05

News For Tuesday 05/31/11


Good Morning!
NEWS FOR TUESDAY 053111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFCO INDUSTRIES, HERE IN ALEXANDRIA, IS WORKING ON THE BIGGEST ORDER IT'S EVER RECEIVED - 1.6 MILLION POUNDS OF ALUMINUM PARTS FOR A SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. THE EMPLOYEE-OWNED COMPANY IS MAKING 73,000 PIECES FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY FIRM BELECTRIC.

A DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER TO GOVERNOR JINDAL'S RE-ELECTION BID HAS SURFACED--FROM AN UNLIKELY SOURCE. TARA HOLLIS, A CLAIBORNE PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER, SAYS SHE WILL RUN AGAINST JINDAL. HOLLIS IS 33, WITH NO EXPERIENCE IN PUBLIC OFFICE. SHE SAYS SHE'S UNHAPPY WITH THE DIRECTION LOUISIANA IS GOING. HOLLIS SAYS, FROM HER PERSPECTIVE AS A TEACHER, SHE'S SEEN THE RESULTS OF THE GOVERNOR'S POLICIES FIRST-HAND. SHE SAYS SHE'S DEEPLY CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE OF LOUISIANA'S SCHOOLS. HOLLIS SAYS CUTS TO EDUCATION AND OTHER KEY PROGRAMS ARE COSTING 169,000 LOUISIANA FAMILIES THEIR JOBS. SHE SAYS PUTTING THESE PEOPLE ON PUBLIC
ASSISTANCE IS NO WAY TO MOVE THE STATE FORWARD.

THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE SPENT MEMORIAL DAY WORKING ON THE PROPOSED $25-BILLION STATE BUDGET FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR. GOVERNOR JINDAL'S COMMISSIONER OF ADMINISTRATION PAUL RAINWATER WAS BEFORE THE PANEL SEEKING TO RESTORE CUTS MADE IN THE HOUSE. HE SAYS THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET WAS CRAFTED TO MAKE LITTLE IMPACT ON CRUCIAL STATE SERVICES. RAINWATER SAYS AGENCY CUTS AND CURTAILMENTS OF SERVICES WERE MADE THOUGHTFULLY BY THE ADMINISTRATION; AIMING AT MAXIMUM DOLLAR EFFICIENCY WITH MINIMUM LOSS OF SERVICE. RAINWATER SAYS LOUISIANA MUST DOWNSIZE GOVERNMENT TO SAVE.

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN MIKE MICHOT, OF LAFAYETTE, SAYS $200-MILLION WAS CUT FROM THE STATE BUDGET AGAINST THE GOVERNOR'S WISHES, AND HIS COMMITTEE WILL LOOK INTO RESTORING THOSE CUTS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THE CUTS MADE BY HOUSE MEMBERS WILL HURT PUBLIC SAFETY, HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND EDUCATION.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION WANTS LAWMAKERS TO LEAVE A $125 MILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND ALONE, RATHER THAN USE TWO-THIRDS OF IT TO PLUG GAPS IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. THE HOUSE PROPOSED TO STRIP NEARLY $82 MILLION FROM THE MEGA-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FUND THAT IS USED TO ATTRACT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES AND OTHER BIG-TICKET PROJECTS THAT CREATE OVER 500 JOBS OR OFFER AT LEAST $500 MILLION IN NEW INVESTMENT IN THE STATE. THOSE DOLLARS WOULD BE USED TO PAY FOR OTHER STATE SERVICES, UNDER THE HOUSE BUDGET. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY, STEPHEN MORET, SAYS IF THE MONEY ISN'T AVAILABLE, LOUISIANA WILL BE DROPPED FROM CONSIDERATION FOR UP TO 15 PROJECTS. MORET TOLD THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE ON MONDAY THAT THE STATE WILL LOSE CREDIBILITY IF THOSE DOLLARS DISAPPEAR.

WASHINGTON, A SMALL TOWN ALONG INTERSTATE 49 THAT DEPENDS ON SPEEDING FINES TO SUPPORT ITS BUDGET, HAS DECIDED NOT TO COMPLY WITH A 2009 STATE LAW AIMED AT REDUCING SPEED TRAPS, ACCORDING TO A STATE AUDIT RELEASED LAST WEEK.
INSTEAD, THE ST. LANDRY PARISH TOWN OF 964 RESIDENTS KEPT ABOUT $200,000 IN SPEEDING FINES THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE STATE. THE 2009 LAW, SPONSORED BY STATE REP. HOLLIS DOWNS, R-RUSTON, REMOVED THE ECONOMIC INCENTIVE FOR SOME ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY ON INTERSTATES BY REQUIRING MANY SMALL AND MIDSIZE TOWNS TO FORFEIT TO THE STATE ANY FINES FOR SPEEDS OF LESS THAN 10 MILES OVER THE LIMIT. THE ESTIMATED $200,000 IN FINES THE TOWN KEPT AMOUNTED TO ABOUT 17 PERCENT OF ITS ANNUAL REVENUE OF $1.2 MILLION.


LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATES ARE CALLING ON THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE TO ENSURE PROPER DREDGING OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHIP CHANNEL, AFTER SPRING FLOOD WATERS RECEDE. METAIRIE CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE SAYS THE SWOLLEN RIVER IS NOW LOADED WITH SEDIMENTS THAT WILL BUILD UP ON THE RIVER. IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, AND THE U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, SCALISE SAYS A SECOND DISASTER, AN ECONOMIC ONE WAITS TO FOLLOW THE SPRING FLOODS.

LOUISIANA'S SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SAYS HE'S GLAD TO HAVE NEEDED DOLLARS THAT WERE CUT FROM HIS BUDGET RESTORED. SECRETARY LANE CARSON SAYS $883-THOUSAND STRIPPED FROM HIS DEPARTMENT IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET, BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, WAS RESTORED ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. CARSON SAYS IF THE FUNDS HADN'T BEEN RESTORED, IT WOULD HAVE MEANT CLOSING OVER 20 VETERANS SERVICES OFFICES, CANCELLING CEREMONIES AND MORE.

LOUISIANA IS AHEAD OF NATIONAL AVERAGES WHEN IT COMES TO HOMEOWNERSHIP. U.S. CENSUS DATA SHOWS THAT 67% OF OCCUPIED HOUSES IN LOUISIANA ARE OWNED BY THEIR RESIDENTS. THAT'S HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF UNDER 65%. LSU SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR TROY BLANCARD HAS CRUNCHED THE CENSUS NUMBERS. HE SAYS REAL ESTATE AND LAND PRICES IN OUR STATE TEND TO BE LOWER THAN OTHER STATES. THAT SAME DATA SHOWS LOUISIANA'S MEDIAN AGE IS YOUNGER THAN THE NATION'S; 36-YEARS-OLD. LSU SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR TROY BLANCHARD SAYS THIS ISN'T NECESSARILY GOOD NEWS. HE SAYS STATISTICALLY, LOUISIANANS DON'T LIVE AS LONG OTHER FOLKS.

HOMEOWNERS AND OTHERS IN ST. MARTIN PARISH ARE BEING ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES, NOW THAT IT APPEARS THAT FLOODING FROM THE OPENING OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY WON'T BE AS BAD AS ONCE THOUGHT. SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNY HIGGIONS SAYS FLOOD WATERS HAVE IMPACTED A FEW HOMES IN BUTTE-LAROSE AND HAPPY TOWN.

ONE PERSON IS CONFIRMED DEAD AND ANOTHER INJURED IN A NATURAL GAS WELL BLOWOUT IN RED RIVER PARISH. THE EXPLOSION HAPPENED SATURDAY NIGHT; JUST OFF HIGHWAY 1 IN RED RIVER. THE FACILITY HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN WHILE AN INVESTIGATION OF THE BLOWOUT TAKES PLACE. NO EVACUATIONS WERE NECESSARY.

THE LSU BASEBALL TIGERS ARE ALL DONE FOR THIS YEAR. NCAA COLLEGE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT BRACKETS WERE RELEASED TODAY, AND LSU IS NOT IN THE 64. THE TIGERS ALSO FAILED TO MAKE THE SEC TOURNAMENT THIS YEAR. THEY TRIED, THOUGH. A LATE-SEASON RALLY SAW THE TIGERS WIN 12 OF THEIR LAST 15 GAMES.

THERE WAS A BIG TURNOUT FOR THE SECOND ANNUAL BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST AT TIGER STADIUM OVER THE WEEKEND. BUT ATTENDANCE WAS DOWN OVER LAST YEAR. OVER 75,000 FANS SHOWED UP TO SEE AND HEAR THEIR FAVORITE COUNTRY ARTISTS. LAST YEAR 85,000 FANS ATTENDED THE TWO DAY EVENT.

LOUISIANA'S PROLONGED DROUGHT CONDITIONS ARE MAKING A NEGATIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON FARMERS. LSU AGCENTER ECONOMIST DR. KURT GUIDRY SAYS PRODUCTION COSTS ARE ALREADY HIGH FOR THOSE WHO GROW GOODS IN IRRIGATED FIELDS. HE SAYS PUMPING ALL THAT WATER ADDS UP FAST. 2011 IS ALREADY ON RECORD BOOKS IN LOUISIANA FOR BEING THE DRIEST ON RECORD (SO FAR) SINCE 1895. GUIDRY SAYS THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS ON YIELDS WILL JUST GET GREATER AS THE DROUGHT WEARS ON. HE SAYS CATTLE PRODUCERS ARE ALSO LOOKING AT PROBABLE DROUGHT-RELATED LOSSES, AS DRIED-OUT PASTURES MEAN VERY LITTLE FOR THEIR LIVESTOCK TO GRAZE ON.

AUTHORITIES SAY A LAROSE WOMAN IS FREE ON BOND AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF THROWING A SCHOOL ID MACHINE AT A TEACHER, HITTING HER IN THE CHEST AND ARM.
THE COURIER REPORTS THE 25-YEAR-OLD LINDSEY JELKS WAS CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED BATTERY OF A SCHOOL TEACHER, FELONY CRIMINAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND INTERFERING WITH THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS. THE ALLEGED ATTACK OCCURRED THURSDAY WHEN THE WOMAN TRIED TO PICK HER CHILDREN UP EARLY FROM SCHOOL. DEPUTIES SAY THE WOMAN ALLEGEDLY BECAME UPSET BECAUSE THE CHILDREN WEREN'T BROUGHT TO HER AS QUICKLY AS SHE WANTED.

THE STATE WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES COMMISSION IS EXPECTED TO SET A DATE TO OPEN COMMERCIAL OYSTER HARVESTING IN SABINE LAKE WHEN IT MEETS ON THURSDAY. THE PANEL ALSO WILL HEAR A REPORT ON PLANS FOR REEF-BUILDING PROGRAMS IN INLAND AND OFFSHORE AREAS ALONG THE LOUISIANA COAST.

POINTING TO TORNADOES AND FLOODS THAT HAVE RAVAGED THE MIDSECTION OF THE NATION, U.S. SEN. MARY LANDRIEU IS LEADING THE CHARGE IN CONGRESS FOR UP TO $5 BILLION TO PAY FOR THE DAMAGE AND PAST DISASTERS. THE FORMER CHAIRWOMAN OF THE SENATE DISASTER RECOVERY SUBCOMMITTEE ALSO IS EXPRESSING FRUSTRATION AND CONCERN OVER HOW DISASTER MONEY IS BEING DOLED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT.
IN FEBRUARY, LANDRIEU KICKED OFF HER CAMPAIGN TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE NATION’S DISASTER RELIEF FUND BY SENDING A LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, ASKING THAT A THEN-$1.5 BILLION DEFICIT BE CLOSED. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS BUDGETED $1.8 BILLION NEXT YEAR FOR THE DISASTER FUND, WHICH LANDRIEU SAID IS $3 BILLION LOWER THAN IS NEEDED.




News For Friday 05/27/11


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 052611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

FORMER DONAHUE FERRY BAPTIST CHURCH YOUTH MINISTER ANGELO "DOOGIE" GOLATT WAS INDICTED YESTERDAY ON 13 CHARGES OF SEX CRIMES WITH JUVENILES. ALTOGETHER, THE GRAND JURY CHARGED GOLATT WITH TWO COUNTS OF AGGRAVATED RAPE, ONE COUNT OF ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED RAPE, EIGHT COUNTS OF SEXUAL BATTERY, ONE COUNT OF MOLESTATION OF A JUVENILE AND ONE COUNT OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE. THE INCIDENTS ALLEGEDLY OCCURRED FROM 2003 TO 2007.

MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONIES ARE SCHEDULED MONDAY IN PINEVILLE, POLLOCK, MARKSVILLE AND JONESVILLE. THE MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY WILL BEGIN AT 11:45 A.M. MONDAY IN THE NATIONAL CEMETERY ON SHAMROCK STREET IN PINEVILLE. THE EVENT WILL LAST ABOUT AN HOUR.

40 YEAR OLD CALISIA CRAWFORD IS BEING HELD IN THE VERNON PARISH JAIL ON ONE COUNT OF NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE. THE LEESVILLE WOMAN IS ACCUSED OF RUNNING DOWN HER HUSBAND EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING WITH HER CAR DURING A DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE. WOODROW CRAWFORD WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE. BOND WAS SET AT $50,000.

RAPIDES PARISH SAW SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN SPRING LEAP TEST SCORES. SUPT. GARY JONES SAYS HE IS RELATIVELY PLEASED WITH THE SCORES THIS YEAR, PARTICULARLY AT THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. MOST IMPORTANT, ACCORDING TO JONES, ALL OUR STRUGGLING SCHOOLS DID WELL THIS YEAR. OVERALL, 81 PERCENT OF FOURTH-GRADERS IN RAPIDES PARISH PASSED THE TEST. THAT’S 1 PERCENTAGE POINT HIGHER THAN THE STATE AVERAGE AND AN IMPROVEMENT OF 4 POINTS OVER LAST YEAR.

THE RED RIVER WATERWAY COMMISSION HAS REOPENED PUBLIC BOAT LAUNCHES AT COLFAX RECREATION AREA IN GRANT PARISH AND IN AREAS IN NORTH LOUISIANA. THE BOAT RAMPS HAD BEEN CLOSED BECAUSE OF HIGH WATER LEVELS ON THE RED RIVER EARLIER THIS MONTH. RAMPS IN AVOYELLES PARISH WILL REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER SOUTH OF LOCK AND DAM NO. 1 RECEDES, ALLOWING THE HIGH WATER TO COME OFF THE DOCKS FOR NECESSARY CLEANING AND REPAIRS. A SMALL RISE IN THE RED RIVER IS EXPECTED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND CLOSURES MAY BE NECESSARY AGAIN.

AFTER WORKING OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, THE STATE HOUSE APPROVED A 25-BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET FOR NEXT FISCAL YEAR. LEGISLATORS LEFT THE HOUSE CHAMBERS ON WEDNESDAY AT AN IMPASSE ON A PROPOSED 81- MILLION DOLLAR CUT IN HEALTH CARE. THEY CAME BACK THURSDAY AFTERNOON AND APPROVED THE CUT. HOUSE MEMBERS ALSO APPROVED CUTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BUDGET DESPITE CLAIMS BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION THAT IT WILL RESULT IN THE CLOSING OF FIVE PRISONS. THE PROPOSED BUDGET HEADS TO THE SENATE. THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE WILL BEGIN HEARINGS ON MONDAY.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS REJECTED A BILL AIMED AT REPEALING LAST YEAR'S SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT, WHICH ALLOWS DISCUSSION OF ALTERNATE SCIENTIFIC THEORIES IN CLASSROOMS; THEORIES NOT IN THE TEXTBOOKS. THE CONTROVERSY IS THAT ONE OF THOSE THEORIES IS THE DIVINE CREATION OF OUR UNIVERSE AND HUMANKIND. SUPPORTERS OF THE REPEAL SAY IT LETS CREATIONISM BE TAUGHT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. OPPONENTS SAY IT SIMPLY ENCOURAGES CRITICAL THINKING. THE
COMMITTEE'S REJECTION EFFECTIVELY KILLS THE LEGISLATION FOR THIS YEAR.

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HOSPITAL SHUTS DOWN A NEW ORLEANS ABORTION CLINIC, FOR FAILING TO MEET STATE HEALTH REGULATIONS. DHH SECRETARY BRUCE GREENSTEIN SAYS A NEW LAW PASSED LAST YEAR GIVES HIS DEPARTMENT AUTHORITY TO IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND AN ABORTION FACILITY'S LICENSE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. THE CLINIC HAS YET TO COMMENT ON THE CLOSURE.

AFTER THE MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY BREAK, THE STATE SENATE WILL GET TO WORK ON FINAL DEBATE AND VOTE ON A SLEW OF BILLS. AMONG MEASURES TO BE DISCUSSED... A BILL TO MAKE BIG RIGS KEEP TO THE RIGHT LANE ON ALL STATE MULTI-LANE ROADS...TAX CREDITS FOR ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOMES...AND A SENATE BILL TO TRANSFER THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS FROM THE LSU SYSTEM TO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM

BATON ROUGE'S BAYOU COUNTRY SUPERFEST GETS IS UNDERWAY THIS WEEKEND IN TIGER STADIUM. THIS YEARS HEADLINING ACTS INCLUDE TIM MCGRAW, KENNY CHESNEY, THE ZAC BROWN BAND, SUGARLAND AND TRACE ADKINS. THE DOORS OPEN AT 2PM BOTH DAYS, AND THE SHOW STARTS AT 4PM.

THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS CLOSED TWO MORE BAYS AT THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, WHICH IS DIVERTING HIGH WATER FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. CORPS SPOKESMAN KEN HOLDER SAID THURSDAY THAT FIVE OF THE 17 BAYS ORIGINALLY OPENED HAVE NOW BEEN CLOSED. THAT LEAVES 12 OF ITS 125 BAYS OPEN. HOLDER SAID THE CORPS WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR CONDITIONS BEFORE DECIDING WHEN TO CLOSE MORE BAYS.

NO BOND HAS BEEN SET FOR A FORMER MANSFIELD YOUTH PASTOR ACCUSED OF SENDING SEXUALLY-ORIENTED TEXT MESSAGES TO SEVERAL JUVENILE CHURCH MEMBERS.
THE TIMES REPORTS 25-YEAR-OLD ADAM DEWAYNE CARTER REMAINS IN THE DESOTO DETENTION CENTER, WHERE HE WAS BOOKED TUESDAY ON THREE COUNTS OF COMPUTER-AIDED SOLICITATION OF A MINOR. HIS BOND MAY NOT BE SET UNTIL FRIDAY.

LEGISLATION AIMED AT STOPPING THE GOVERNMENT FROM ASKING DISASTER VICTIMS TO PAY BACK MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN IMPROPER AID PAYMENTS HAS RECEIVED COMMITTEE APPROVAL AND BEEN SENT TO THE SENATE. THE SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE VOTED 8-1 THURSDAY TO APPROVE THE DISASTER ASSISTANCE RECOUPMENT FAIRNESS ACT. FEMA IS ASKING FOR ABOUT $22 MILLION BACK FROM MORE THAN 5,500 PEOPLE WHO WERE AFFECTED BY 129 SEPARATE DISASTERS SINCE 2005.

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN CALIFORNIA HAS REFUSED TO DISMISS HUMAN TRAFFICKING ACCUSATIONS IN A LAWSUIT FILED BY TEACHERS RECRUITED FROM THE PHILIPPINES TO WORK IN LOUISIANA. THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED LAST YEAR BY A GROUP OF TEACHERS AGAINST CALIFORNIA-BASED UNIVERSAL PLACEMENT INTERNATIONAL INC. AND ITS OWNER, LOURDES "LULU" NAVARRO. TEACHERS COMPLAINED THEY HAD TO BORROW MONEY TO PAY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS CHARGED BY THE COMPANY, AS MUCH AS $16,000 IN SOME CASES, BEFORE EVER LEAVING THE PHILIPPINES. MORE UNEXPECTED FEES AND EXPENSIVE LEGAL ENTANGLEMENTS FOLLOWED ONCE THE TEACHERS ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES, THE LAWSUIT CLAIMS. FOR EXAMPLE, CONTRACTS WERE REQUIRED IN WHICH THE TEACHERS AGREED TO PAY A PERCENTAGE OF THEIR MONTHLY INCOME TO UNIVERSAL, ALONG WITH FEES FOR ARRANGING HOUSING. PASSPORTS AND VISAS WERE CONFISCATED TO ENSURE THE FEES WOULD BE PAID.

THE 149 WORKERS AT SITEL'S CALL CENTER IN LOUISIANA HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED THAT THE CENTER WILL CLOSE JULY 18. WORKERS AT THE BOGALUSA, LA. CENTER WERE TOLD TUESDAY ABOUT THE PLANNED CLOSING, AND THAT THOSE IN GOOD STANDING CAN APPLY TO THE COMPANY'S OTHER CALL CENTERS.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES IS REOPENING A SIX MILE LONG STRETCH OF BEACH NEAR GRAND ISLE KNOWN AS ELMER'S ISLAND IN TIME FOR THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. LDWF SECRETARY ROBERT BARHAM SAYS THE POPULAR SURF-FISHING & BIRD-WATCHING SPOT HAS BEEN CLOSED FOR ABOUT A YEAR, SINCE THE GULF OIL SPILL. BARHAM SAYS HIS DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN WORKING CLOSELY WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO MAKE SURE THE BEACH IS THOROUGHLY CLEANED AND READY FOR TOURISTS.

News For Thursday 05/26/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 052611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

JOB GROWTH PICKED UP IN LOUISIANA IN APRIL AFTER SAGGING A BIT THE PREVIOUS MONTH WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR PROVIDING ALL OF THE NEW EMPLOYMENT. THE LOUISIANA WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE STATE HAD 14,500 MORE NON-FARM JOBS IN APRIL THAN IN APRIL 2010. THAT FOLLOWS A MARCH-TO-MARCH GAIN OF 9,200 JOBS AND A FEBRUARY-TO-FEBRUARY GAIN OF 21,200 JOBS. THE FIGURES ARE NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED. THE WORKFORCE COMMISSION SAID PRIVATE PAYROLL JOBS HAVE INCREASED BY 25,300 OVER THE PAST YEAR, WHILE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT HAS FALLEN BY 10,800 JOBS. ALEXANDRIA ADDED 1,300 JOBS OVER THE YEAR, ALL IN THE SERVICE-PROVIDING SECTOR.

THREE APPOINTMENTS MADE TO THE ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS BY MAYOR JACQUES ROY ARE APPROPRIATE AND LEGITIMATE, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE AUTHORITY'S ATTORNEY AND THE MAYOR. A QUESTION ABOUT THE APPOINTMENTS WAS RAISED THIS WEEK BY A TOWN TALK REPORTER AFTER AN AUDIT OF THE OPELOUSAS HOUSING AUTHORITY WAS RELEASED. THE AUDIT OF THE 2009-10 FISCAL YEAR SAYS OPELOUSAS MAYOR DON CRAVINS SR. MAY HAVE VIOLATED STATE ETHICS LAWS BY APPOINTING CITY EMPLOYEES TO THE BOARD OF THAT AUTHORITY. THE MAYOR SAID YESTERDAY "WHAT THE TOWN TALK WAS DOING WAS SLEAZY BECAUSE. IN HIS WORDS, THEY ARE COMPARING TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SCENARIOS."

MORE ARRESTS ARE EXPECTED, THAT AFTER AUTHORITIES ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT TWENTY WINN PARISH RESIDENTS HAD BEEN ARRESTED ON DRUG AND OTHER CHARGES AFTER A 10-MONTH OPERATION BY VARIOUS STATE, LOCAL AND FEDERAL AGENCIES. DRUGS, WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES WERE SEIZED DURING THE OPERATION.

LOUISIANA IS SEEING MORE SERIOUS DROUGHT CONDITIONS THAN IT'S EXPERIENCED IN DECADES. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THERE IS A CHANCE FOR RAIN IN THE STATE TODAY AND TOMORROW, BUT HE DOESN'T ANTICIPATE MUCH MORE RAIN BEFORE THE END OF THE MONTH. KEIM SAYS THIS IS THE SECOND DRIEST JANUARY TO MAY WE'VE SEEN SINCE 1963.

THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS CLOSED THREE BAYS ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. THE CLOSING OF THE BAYS IS THE RESULT OF REDUCED FLOW-RATES IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT RED RIVER LANDING. THERE ARE CURRENTLY 14 BAYS OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN, BUT CORPS SPOKESPERSON KEN HOLDER SAYS THERE'S NO TIMELINE ON WHEN ALL OF THE BAYS WILL BE CLOSED.

THE LONG ANTICIPATED FLOOD WATERS HAVE FINALLY MADE THEIR WAY INTO THE EMPTY TOWN OF BUTTE LAROSE. THE MANDATORY EVACUATION WAS IMPLEMENTED YESTERDAY. ST MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNNY HIGGINS SAYS THE WATER IS BEING MONITORED AS IT MOVES INTO THE AREA. SHE SAYS THINGS ARE VERY QUIET IN THE TOWN AS ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE DECIDED TO STAY. SHE SAYS NOW ALL THAT CAN BE DONE IS WAIT TO SEE HOW HIGH THE WATER WILL GET AND WHEN IT WILL RECEDE.

DEBATE OF THE STATE'S $25-BILLION BUDGET BOGGED DOWN OVER THE USE OF $93-MILLION IN ONE-TIME MONEY ON RECURRING EXPENDITURES. A NEWLY-PASSED HOUSE RULE CALLS FOR A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY VOTE TO USE NON-RECURRING REVENUES. A MOTION WAS MADE TO SUSPEND THAT RULE, WHICH HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER OPPOSES. TUCKER APPEALS TO FELLOW CONSERVATIVES IN THE HOUSE TO NOT SET ASIDE A RULE THEY MADE ONLY LAST WEEK. APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN, OF JONESBORO, SAYS HE JUST WANTS TO WAIVE THE RULE AND GET REAL DEBATE ON THE BUDGET BILL UNDERWAY. THE HOUSE WAS UNABLE TO DECIDE ON SUSPENDING RULES, SO THE BILL WAS RETURNED TO THE CALENDAR FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION.

DEBATE YESTERDAY ON THE SENATE FLOOR ON A BILL TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S PERSONAL INCOME TAX. A SIMILAR HOUSE BILL IS ALSO ACTIVE. BOTH WOULD PHASE INCOME TAXES OUT OVER A TEN-YEAR SPAN. INCOME TAXES ACCOUNT FOR ABOUT 15 TO 20% OF THE STATE'S $9-BILLION ANNUAL GENERAL FUND EXPENSE. THE STATE WOULD HAVE TO LOWER ITS SPENDING BY THAT MUCH OR DEVISE DIFFERENT REVENUE SOURCES.

A SENATE PANEL IS CONSIDERING A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL A LOUISIANA LAW THAT ALLOWS PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHERS TO USE SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS IN THEIR CLASSROOMS BEYOND STATE-APPROVED TEXTBOOKS. MORE THAN 40 NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING SCIENTISTS ARE URGING THE REPEAL OF THE LOUISIANA SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT, SAYING IT CREATES A WAY FOR TEACHERS TO CHALLENGE EVOLUTION AND TEACH CREATIONISM IN CLASSROOMS. SUPPORTERS SAY THE LAW WAS DESIGNED TO PROMOTE CRITICAL THINKING, STRENGTHEN EDUCATION AND HELP TEACHERS WHO ARE CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT'S ACCEPTABLE FOR SCIENCE CLASSES. THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE THE REPEAL BILL BY NEW ORLEANS SEN. KAREN CARTER PETERSON ON THURSDAY. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL OPPOSES PETERSON'S BILL.

A NATIONAL TRACKING FIRM SAYS HOUSES IN FORECLOSURE ACCOUNTED FOR 11.9 PERCENT OF FIRST-QUARTER HOME SALES IN LOUISIANA. DURING THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2011, IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC SAID THERE WERE 497 HOMES SOLD IN SOME STAGE OF FORECLOSURE, RANGING FROM AN INITIAL DEFAULT NOTICE TO PROPERTIES THAT HAD BEEN TAKEN BACK BY LENDERS. REALTYTRAC SAID THAT HOUSES OWNED BY LENDERS WERE SOLD AT AN AVERAGE DISCOUNT OF 41 PERCENT TO THOSE WITH OWNERS UP TO DATE ON THEIR PAYMENTS. HOUSES WHERE OWNERS WERE IN TROUBLE BUT HAD NOT YET BEEN HIT BY FORECLOSURE WENT FOR AN AVERAGE OF 22.3 PERCENT LESS.

DREW BREES HAS A TRACK RECORD OF MAKING THE BEST OF BAD SITUATIONS. HE SAYS HE SEES NO REASON WHY THE NFL LOCKOUT SHOULD BE ANY DIFFERENT. BREES AND SEVERAL DOZEN OF HIS NEW ORLEANS SAINTS TEAMMATES HAVE SPENT THE PAST FOUR WEEKS NOT ONLY WORKING OUT AS A TEAM, BUT ALSO BANDING TOGETHER TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITIES AND EVEN SPENDING TIME WITH FANS. ON WEDNESDAY, FOUR WINNERS OF A RAFFLE THAT RAISED ABOUT $43,000 FOR LOUISIANA CHARITIES HAD A RARE CHANCE TO RUN THROUGH DRILLS IN PLAYER-ORGANIZED WORKOUTS AT TULANE UNIVERSITY.

HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS SPREAD ACROSS FIVE LOUISIANA AGENCIES WOULD BE CONSOLIDATED AND MANAGED BY A NEW STATE-CREATED CORPORATION, UNDER A PROPOSAL THAT RECEIVED APPROVAL WEDNESDAY FROM THE HOUSE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE. THE MEASURE, PUSHED BY THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION AND SPONSORED BY SEN. NEIL RISER, R-COLUMBIA, WOULD CREATE THE NONPROFIT LOUISIANA HOUSING CORPORATION TO CENTRALIZE HOUSING AID PROGRAMS AND DEVELOP A UNIFIED HOUSING POLICY FOR THE STATE. IT WOULD TAKE OVER AND LARGELY DISMANTLE THE LOUISIANA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, WHICH HAS GENERATED COMPLAINTS SINCE THE 2005 HURRICANES OF BLOATED BUREAUCRACY AND INEFFICIENT SPENDING

A LAWMAKER WITHDRAWS HIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO MAKE SWEEPING CHANGES IN ENFORCEMENT OF IMMIGRATION LAWS. AFTER HEARING TESTIMONY WEDNESDAY AGAINST THE BILL FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT AND IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ADVOCATES, NAPOLEONVILLE REP. JOE HARRISON DEFERRED HIS PROPOSAL. AS WRITTEN HARRISON'S BILL WOULD HAVE REQUIRED PROVIDERS OF PUBLIC BENEFITS - SUCH AS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS OR SOCIAL SERVICES TO VERIFY CITIZENSHIP. IT ALSO WOULD HAVE REQUIRED POLICE TO VERIFY THE CITIZENSHIP OF ANY ARRESTED PERSON BEFORE RELEASE.

LOUISIANA'S EMERGING DIGITAL MEDIA INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO GROW. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS VIDEO GAME MAKER ELECTRONIC ARTS PLANS A BIG EXPANSION OF IT'S NORTH AMERICAN TEST CENTER--CURRENTLY LOCATED ON THE LSU CAMPUS IN BATON ROUGE...: (THE PLANNED EXPANSION WILL INCREASE EA'S PAYROLL BY 200 JOBS

STATE POLICE REPORT THEIR YEAR-LONG INVESTIGATION HAS LED TO THE ARREST OF 7 LAFAYETTE-AREA PEOPLE FOR ALLEGEDLY STAGING VEHICLE CRASHES TO COLLECT FRAUDULENT PROPERTY AND INJURY CLAIMS. TROOPERS SAY THEY ARE STILL LOOKING FOR AN EIGHTH PERSON WHO TOOK PART IN THE SCHEME.

POLICE IN GONZALES, IN ASCENSION PARISH, HAVE ARRESTED FORMER LSU BASKETBALL AND NBA PLAYER JOHN "HOT ROD" WILLIAMS ON A MISDEMEANOR COUNT RELATED TO GUNSHOTS FIRED DURING A PARTY AT HIS HOME. POLICE SAY WILLIAMS AND HIS RELATIVES TOLD OFFICERS ABOUT EIGHT SHOTS WERE FIRED BY AN UNKNOWN PERSON ATTENDING SATURDAY'S PARTY.

DRIVES PASSING THROUGH THE ACADIANA AREA WILL NOW BE ABLE TO ACCESS TRAFFIC CAMERAS GIVING THEM REAL-TIME ACCESS TO TRAFFIC INFORMATION ON I-10 AND A PORTION OF I-49 IN LAFAYETTE AND THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN BRIDGE. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SPOKESPERSON AMBER HEBERT SAYS MOTORIST WILL BE ABLE TO PLAN THEIR ROUT BASED ON THE MOST CURRENT INFORMATION. HEBERT SAYS THE CAMERA PROGRAM HAS PROVEN SUCCESSFUL IN EVERY AREA WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN INSTALLED AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION WILL CONTINUE TO EXPAND THE SYSTEM.

FRANCISCO PIEDRAHITA THE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR FROM COLOMBIA WHO HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE SATURDAY, WAS FOUND ALIVE IN THE 2,000-ACRES OF FOREST AND SWAMPLAND NEAR NEW ORLEANS WHERE CREWS HAVE SPENT FIVE DAYS SEARCHING FOR HIM. OFFICIALS SAY HE WAS TAKEN BY AMBULANCE TO WEST JEFFERSON MEDICAL CENTER. PIEDRAHITA WAS FOUND BY A JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE HELICOPTER CREW ABOUT 300 YARDS OFF A TRAIL

THE FORMER MAYOR OF GRAMBLING, JOHN "PORKY" WILLIAMS HAS PASSED AWAY. WILLIAMS SERVED AS MAYOR FROM 1995-2002 AND RAN AGAIN FOR OFFICE IN 2010.

THE U.S. POST OFFICE ON U.S. 165 IN MONROE WAS EVACUATED WHEN AN EMPLOYEE DISCOVERED A SMALL SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE THAT WAS SAID TO HAVE BEEN TICKING. THE PACKAGE, WHICH WAS LATER IDENTIFIED BY POLICE AS A CELLPHONE, WAS DESTROYED BY THE MONROE POLICE DEPARTMENT.



News For Wednesday Update


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 052511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW WRINKLE CAN COMPLICATE THE HAGGLING OVER NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET, AS THE LOUISIANA HOUSE STARTS ITS DEBATE TODAY. THE HOUSE THIS WEEK ENACTED A REQUIREMENT THAT ADDS INCREASED HURDLES TO SPENDING ONE-TIME MONEY FOR ONGOING SERVICES. SUCH SPENDING WILL NEED A SEPARATE VOTE, AND TWO-THIRDS BACKING. THE 2011-12 BUDGET CONTAINS $449 MILLION IN ONE-TIME DOLLARS, ACCORDING TO A LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE REVIEW. THE HOUSE BUDGET DEBATE ALSO COMES AS HOUSE LEADERS AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION ARE AT ODDS OVER THE LEVEL OF CUTS NEEDED TO BALANCE THE SPENDING PLAN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PROPOSED CUTTING $139 MILLION MORE THAN JINDAL WANTED. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THOSE CUTS WILL DEVASTATE PUBLIC SAFETY, HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

AT THE CAPITOL, HOUSE MEMBERS DISCUSSED TWO CONTROVERSIAL TAX PROPOSALS, PASSING ONE AND PUTTING THE OTHER ON HOLD. FIRST, BOGALUSA REP. HAROLD RITCHIE'S BILL TO RENEW A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX THAT'S SCHEDULED TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. THE HOUSE PASSED THE BILL BY A 70-30 VOTE. GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS HE CONSIDERS THE BILL A NEW TAX AND VOWS TO VETO IT. THE HOUSE ALSO DISCUSSED A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S PERSONAL STATE INCOME TAXES. BATON ROUGE REP. HUNTER GREENE SAYS ENDING THE TAX WILL HELP ATTRACT MORE BUSINESS AND INDIVIDUALS TO THE STATE. OTHERS WONDER WHERE THE STATE WOULD MAKE UP THOSE LOST REVENUES. AFTER DEBATE, GREENE ASKS FOR MORE TIME TO RALLY SUPPORT FOR THE BILL.

LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORMED SLIGHTLY BETTER ON STANDARDIZED TESTS THIS YEAR. LEAP TEST RESULTS SHOW THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS READY TO MOVE ON TO THE NEXT GRADE WENT FROM 65% LAST YEAR TO 66% THIS YEAR. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS THE NEWS IS ENCOURAGING. EDUCATION OFFICIALS SAY BREAKDOWNS OF THE TEST RESULTS SHOW IMPROVEMENTS IN MOST SUBJECTS AND GRADE LEVELS. ACTING EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TYLER SAYS IMPROVEMENTS IN TEST SCORES WERE EVIDENT IN 42 OF 70 SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

A BIT OF UNFINISHED REDISTRICTING BUSINESS WAS WRAPPED UP YESTERDAY, AS THE SENATE GAVE FINAL APPROVAL TO NEW MAPS FOR THE EIGHT BOARD OF ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION DISTRICTS. THAT MEASURE NOW GOES TO GOVERNOR JINDAL FOR HIS SIGNATURE. FEDERAL AUTHORITIES WILL HAVE TO APPROVE THE DISTRICTS AS WELL.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE AGREES THAT THE 10 COMMANDMENTS SHOULD BE POSTED ON THE GROUNDS OF THE STATE CAPITOL. THE BILL IS BY SHREVEPORT REP PATRICK WILLIAMS WHO SAYS THE GOAL IS TO POINT OUT THE ROLE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN OUR NATION'S HERITAGE. WILLIAMS IS PROPOSING A MONUMENT THAT COULD BE UP TO SIX FEET TALL AND FOUR FEET WIDE. WILLIAMS SAYS IT MAKES SENSE TO HAVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS POSTED NEAR THE BUILDING WHERE LAWS ARE MADE. THE MEASURE NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

AN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY FOUND THE BODIES OF HIS MOTHER AND HER LIVE-IN BOYFRIEND INSIDE THEIR LAKE CHARLES HOME. SHERIFF TONY MANCUSO SAYS THE BODIES OF 38-YEAR-OLD SHEREE LYNN CRUZ AND 39-YEAR-OLD ADAM KEITH BROWN WERE FOUND MONDAY MORNING BY CRUZ'S SON WHO HAD RETURNED HOME AFTER A WEEKEND VISIT WITH HIS FATHER. MANCUSO SAYS INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE THE DEATHS WERE THE RESULT OF A MURDER-SUICIDE. BOTH HAD BEEN SHOT TO DEATH.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE ABORTIONS ILLEGAL IN LOUISIANA. BILL SPONSOR REP. JOHN LABRUZZO OF METAIRIE SAYS THE BILL CHALLENGES THE SUPREME COURT'S ROE V. WADE DECISION. OPPONENTS SAY THE BILL WOULD PROMPT COSTLY AND UNSUCCESSFUL LITIGATION. MELISSA FLOURNOY IS THE DIRECTOR OF LOUISIANA PROGRESS ACTION. SHE BELIEVES THE STATE SHOULD SPEND MORE MONEY ON HEALTHCARE, SEX EDUCATION AND FAMILY PLANNING. THE BILL PASSED BY A 10-2 VOTE AND GOES NOW TO THE HOUSE FLOOR.

A WEST MONROE MOTHER HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AFTER SHE ALLEGEDLY USED A BASEBALL BAT TO BEAT UP HER 13-YEAR-OLD SON. WEST MONROE POLICE SAY THE 31 YEAR OLD WOMAN IS ALSO FACING ONE COUNT OF AGGRAVATED SECOND-DEGREE BATTERY. POLICE SAY THE WOMAN BROKE THE BOYS ARM WHEN SHE USED THE BAT TO DISCIPLINE HER SON.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS PASSED A BILL TO CONSOLIDATE THE STATE'S CURRENT FIVE COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT BOARDS IN TO JUST ONE. THE BILL BY HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER WOULD ABOLISH THE LSU, SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY, UL AND TECHNICAL AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEMS, PLUS THE STATE BOARD OF REGENTS. THE BILL WOULD TRANSFER THEIR POWERS TO A NEW SINGLE BOARD OF TRUSTEES. KRISTY NICHOLS WITH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THIS IS A COST SAVING BILL. LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI, WHO OPPOSED THE BILL, SAYS THE FOUR UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS ARE DIVERSE AND COMBINING THEM UNDER ONE MANAGEMENT BOARD IS UNWISE. BECAUSE OF THE TRANSITIONAL COST THE MEASURE NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE
APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE.

REPUBLICANS CONTROLLING THE HOUSE BEGAN ADVANCING A $1 BILLION AID PACKAGE ON TUESDAY TO MAKE SURE THAT DISASTER RELIEF ACCOUNTS DON'T RUN DRY AFTER MASSIVE FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND DEVASTATING TORNADOES IN MISSOURI AND ALABAMA. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVED THE DISASTER AID CASH ALONG WITH TWO SPENDING BILLS, ONE FUNDING THE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT AND THE OTHER VETERANS PROGRAMS.

THE COAST GUARD HAS REOPENED A STRETCH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO SOUTHBOUND VESSELS SEVERAL DAYS AFTER THREE BARGES SANK AMID HIGH WATER AND FAST CURRENTS. PETTY OFFICER STEPHEN LEHMANN SAID SOUTHBOUND TRAFFIC RESUMED TUESDAY AFTERNOON, A DAY AFTER NORTHBOUND VESSELS WERE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL UPRIVER.

THE NCAA IS BANNING LOUISIANA-MONROE'S MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM FROM POSTSEASON PLAY FOR ONE SEASON AND REDUCING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE FOOTBALL AND TRACK AND FIELD TEAMS BECAUSE OF THEIR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE RATES. THE MEN'S BASKETBALL SQUAD, WHICH HAD ALREADY LOST TWO SCHOLARSHIPS BECAUSE OF HISTORICALLY LOW APR SCORES, WILL LOSE A THIRD AND ALSO HAVE TO REDUCE PRACTICE TIME.

THE LOUISIANA STATE SENATE ON TUESDAY MEMORIALIZED 19 SOLDIERS WHO DIED IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, PART OF THE CHAMBER'S ANNUAL "MILITARY FAMILY DAY."
SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX, D-GROSSE TETE, WHO STARTED THE YEARLY EVENT IN 2005, SAID MORE LOUISIANA SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED THIS YEAR THAN IN ANY OTHER YEAR SINCE THEY'VE HELD THE EVENT. FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE SOLDIERS FILLED THE SENATE CHAMBER AS INDIVIDUAL CONDOLENCE RESOLUTIONS WERE READ FOR EACH SOLDIER, AND EACH FAMILY WAS GIVEN A STATE FLAG.

HOME BANCORP INC. SAYS IT WILL REPURCHASE UP TO 5 PERCENT OF ITS OUTSTANDING COMMON STOCK. LAFAYETTE-BASED HOME BANCORP IS THE PARENT COMPANY OF HOME BANK. THE REPURCHASES COULD INVOLVE JUST OVER 402,000 SHARES. HOME BANK RECENTLY COMPLETED ANOTHER BUYBACK IN WHICH IT PURCHASED ABOUT 427,000 SHARES OF ITS COMMON STOCK AT AN AVERAGE PRICE OF $13.56 PER SHARE.

LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARE ASKING KEN FEINBERG, WHO IS OVERSEEING THE PAYMENTS FROM A $20 BILLION COMPENSATION FUND FOR VICTIMS OF THE OIL SPILL, TO KEEP OPEN THREE CLAIMS OFFICES HE PLANS TO CLOSE NEXT WEEK. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON AND HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SENT LETTERS TO FEINBERG ON TUESDAY PUSHING FOR THE CLAIMS OFFICES TO REMAIN OPEN IN LAFITTE, GRAND ISLE AND MORGAN CITY. THE OFFICES ARE SLATED TO CLOSE JUNE 1.

SPORTS..

ON THE ANNUAL SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE POSTSEASON TEAMS SELECTED BY LEAGUE COACHES, FOUR LSU PLAYERS RECEIVED RECOGNITION. JUNIOR CENTERFIELDER MIKIE MAHTOOK WAS VOTED FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC, AND HE WAS NAMED TO THE SEC ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM. SOPHOMORE OUTFIELDER/FIRST BASEMAN MASON KATZ WAS VOTED SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC, AND SECOND BASEMAN JACOBY JONES AND CATCHER TY ROSS WERE NAMED TO THE SEC ALL-FRESHMAN SQUAD.
COACHES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO VOTE FOR THEIR OWN PLAYERS.

ULM FIRST BASEMAN JOEY RAPP WAS NAMED TO THE SUN BELT ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM DURING THE OPENING CEREMONIES FOR THE 2011 SUN BELT CONFERENCE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS. RAPP IS THE FIRST ULM PLAYER TO EARN FIRST TEAM HONORS IN THE SUN BELT SINCE 2009.

LOUISIANA TECH BEGINS PLAY IN THE WAC TOURNAMENT TONIGHT. THE BULLDOGS ARE THE THIRD SEED AND WILL FACE SIXTH SEEDED NEW MEXICO STATE IN MESA, ARIZONA. TECH COACH WADE SIMONEAUX SAYS THE AGGIES ARE AN EXPLOSIVE TEAM ON OFFENSE.
THE BULLDOGS HEAD INTO THE TOURNAMENT, WINNERS IN SIX OF THEIR LAST SEVEN.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AND NICHOLLS STATE ARE IN THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT, WHICH BEGINS TODAY IN SAN MARCOS, TEXAS. THE LIONS ARE THE FOURTH SEED AND WILL FACE 5TH SEEDED SAM HOUSTON STATE THIS AFTERNOON AT FOUR O' CLOCK. S-L-U COACH JAY ARTIGUES SAYS THE BEARKATS ARE A SOLID TEAM
THE COLONELS FACE TOP-SEEDED TEXAS STATE TONIGHT AT 7:00.

FORMER LSU PITCHER LEFT-HANDER CHARLIE FURBUSH POSTED A RELIEF WIN MONDAY IN HIS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DEBUT WITH THE DETROIT TIGERS. FURBUSH PITCHED FOR PAUL MAINIER'S FIRST LSU SQUAD IN 2007 AND FIRED 3.2 SCORELESS INNINGS IN THE TIGERS' 6-3 VICTORY OVER THE TAMPA BAY RAYS IN DETROIT.

THE NCAA IS BANNING LOUISIANA-MONROE'S MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM FROM POSTSEASON PLAY FOR ONE SEASON AND REDUCING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE FOOTBALL AND TRACK AND FIELD TEAMS BECAUSE OF THEIR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE RATES. THE MEN'S BASKETBALL SQUAD, WHICH HAD ALREADY LOST TWO SCHOLARSHIPS BECAUSE OF HISTORICALLY LOW APR SCORES, WILL LOSE A THIRD AND ALSO HAVE TO REDUCE PRACTICE TIME.


News For Wednesday 05/25/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 052511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A NEW WRINKLE CAN COMPLICATE THE HAGGLING OVER NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET, AS THE LOUISIANA HOUSE STARTS ITS DEBATE TODAY. THE HOUSE THIS WEEK ENACTED A REQUIREMENT THAT ADDS INCREASED HURDLES TO SPENDING ONE-TIME MONEY FOR ONGOING SERVICES. SUCH SPENDING WILL NEED A SEPARATE VOTE, AND TWO-THIRDS BACKING. THE 2011-12 BUDGET CONTAINS $449 MILLION IN ONE-TIME DOLLARS, ACCORDING TO A LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE REVIEW. THE HOUSE BUDGET DEBATE ALSO COMES AS HOUSE LEADERS AND GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S ADMINISTRATION ARE AT ODDS OVER THE LEVEL OF CUTS NEEDED TO BALANCE THE SPENDING PLAN FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PROPOSED CUTTING $139 MILLION MORE THAN JINDAL WANTED. THE GOVERNOR SAYS THOSE CUTS WILL DEVASTATE PUBLIC SAFETY, HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

AT THE CAPITOL, HOUSE MEMBERS DISCUSSED TWO CONTROVERSIAL TAX PROPOSALS, PASSING ONE AND PUTTING THE OTHER ON HOLD. FIRST, BOGALUSA REP. HAROLD RITCHIE'S BILL TO RENEW A 4-CENT CIGARETTE TAX THAT'S SCHEDULED TO EXPIRE THIS YEAR. THE HOUSE PASSED THE BILL BY A 70-30 VOTE. GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS HE CONSIDERS THE BILL A NEW TAX AND VOWS TO VETO IT. THE HOUSE ALSO DISCUSSED A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S PERSONAL STATE INCOME TAXES. BATON ROUGE REP. HUNTER GREENE SAYS ENDING THE TAX WILL HELP ATTRACT MORE BUSINESS AND INDIVIDUALS TO THE STATE. OTHERS WONDER WHERE THE STATE WOULD MAKE UP THOSE LOST REVENUES. AFTER DEBATE, GREENE ASKS FOR MORE TIME TO RALLY SUPPORT FOR THE BILL.

LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORMED SLIGHTLY BETTER ON STANDARDIZED TESTS THIS YEAR. LEAP TEST RESULTS SHOW THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS READY TO MOVE ON TO THE NEXT GRADE WENT FROM 65% LAST YEAR TO 66% THIS YEAR. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS THE NEWS IS ENCOURAGING. EDUCATION OFFICIALS SAY BREAKDOWNS OF THE TEST RESULTS SHOW IMPROVEMENTS IN MOST SUBJECTS AND GRADE LEVELS. ACTING EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TYLER SAYS IMPROVEMENTS IN TEST SCORES WERE EVIDENT IN 42 OF 70 SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

A BIT OF UNFINISHED REDISTRICTING BUSINESS WAS WRAPPED UP YESTERDAY, AS THE SENATE GAVE FINAL APPROVAL TO NEW MAPS FOR THE EIGHT BOARD OF ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION DISTRICTS. THAT MEASURE NOW GOES TO GOVERNOR JINDAL FOR HIS SIGNATURE. FEDERAL AUTHORITIES WILL HAVE TO APPROVE THE DISTRICTS AS WELL.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE AGREES THAT THE 10 COMMANDMENTS SHOULD BE POSTED ON THE GROUNDS OF THE STATE CAPITOL. THE BILL IS BY SHREVEPORT REP PATRICK WILLIAMS WHO SAYS THE GOAL IS TO POINT OUT THE ROLE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN OUR NATION'S HERITAGE. WILLIAMS IS PROPOSING A MONUMENT THAT COULD BE UP TO SIX FEET TALL AND FOUR FEET WIDE. WILLIAMS SAYS IT MAKES SENSE TO HAVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS POSTED NEAR THE BUILDING WHERE LAWS ARE MADE. THE MEASURE NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR FURTHER DEBATE.

AN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY FOUND THE BODIES OF HIS MOTHER AND HER LIVE-IN BOYFRIEND INSIDE THEIR LAKE CHARLES HOME. SHERIFF TONY MANCUSO SAYS THE BODIES OF 38-YEAR-OLD SHEREE LYNN CRUZ AND 39-YEAR-OLD ADAM KEITH BROWN WERE FOUND MONDAY MORNING BY CRUZ'S SON WHO HAD RETURNED HOME AFTER A WEEKEND VISIT WITH HIS FATHER. MANCUSO SAYS INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE THE DEATHS WERE THE RESULT OF A MURDER-SUICIDE. BOTH HAD BEEN SHOT TO DEATH.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE ABORTIONS ILLEGAL IN LOUISIANA. BILL SPONSOR REP. JOHN LABRUZZO OF METAIRIE SAYS THE BILL CHALLENGES THE SUPREME COURT'S ROE V. WADE DECISION. OPPONENTS SAY THE BILL WOULD PROMPT COSTLY AND UNSUCCESSFUL LITIGATION. MELISSA FLOURNOY IS THE DIRECTOR OF LOUISIANA PROGRESS ACTION. SHE BELIEVES THE STATE SHOULD SPEND MORE MONEY ON HEALTHCARE, SEX EDUCATION AND FAMILY PLANNING. THE BILL PASSED BY A 10-2 VOTE AND GOES NOW TO THE HOUSE FLOOR.

A WEST MONROE MOTHER HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED SECOND-DEGREE MURDER AFTER SHE ALLEGEDLY USED A BASEBALL BAT TO BEAT UP HER 13-YEAR-OLD SON. WEST MONROE POLICE SAY THE 31 YEAR OLD WOMAN IS ALSO FACING ONE COUNT OF AGGRAVATED SECOND-DEGREE BATTERY. POLICE SAY THE WOMAN BROKE THE BOYS ARM WHEN SHE USED THE BAT TO DISCIPLINE HER SON.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS PASSED A BILL TO CONSOLIDATE THE STATE'S CURRENT FIVE COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT BOARDS IN TO JUST ONE. THE BILL BY HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER WOULD ABOLISH THE LSU, SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY, UL AND TECHNICAL AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEMS, PLUS THE STATE BOARD OF REGENTS. THE BILL WOULD TRANSFER THEIR POWERS TO A NEW SINGLE BOARD OF TRUSTEES. KRISTY NICHOLS WITH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THIS IS A COST SAVING BILL. LSU SYSTEM PRESIDENT JOHN LOMBARDI, WHO OPPOSED THE BILL, SAYS THE FOUR UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS ARE DIVERSE AND COMBINING THEM UNDER ONE MANAGEMENT BOARD IS UNWISE. BECAUSE OF THE TRANSITIONAL COST THE MEASURE NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE
APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE.

REPUBLICANS CONTROLLING THE HOUSE BEGAN ADVANCING A $1 BILLION AID PACKAGE ON TUESDAY TO MAKE SURE THAT DISASTER RELIEF ACCOUNTS DON'T RUN DRY AFTER MASSIVE FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND DEVASTATING TORNADOES IN MISSOURI AND ALABAMA. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVED THE DISASTER AID CASH ALONG WITH TWO SPENDING BILLS, ONE FUNDING THE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT AND THE OTHER VETERANS PROGRAMS.

THE COAST GUARD HAS REOPENED A STRETCH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO SOUTHBOUND VESSELS SEVERAL DAYS AFTER THREE BARGES SANK AMID HIGH WATER AND FAST CURRENTS. PETTY OFFICER STEPHEN LEHMANN SAID SOUTHBOUND TRAFFIC RESUMED TUESDAY AFTERNOON, A DAY AFTER NORTHBOUND VESSELS WERE ALLOWED TO TRAVEL UPRIVER.

THE NCAA IS BANNING LOUISIANA-MONROE'S MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM FROM POSTSEASON PLAY FOR ONE SEASON AND REDUCING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE FOOTBALL AND TRACK AND FIELD TEAMS BECAUSE OF THEIR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE RATES. THE MEN'S BASKETBALL SQUAD, WHICH HAD ALREADY LOST TWO SCHOLARSHIPS BECAUSE OF HISTORICALLY LOW APR SCORES, WILL LOSE A THIRD AND ALSO HAVE TO REDUCE PRACTICE TIME.

THE LOUISIANA STATE SENATE ON TUESDAY MEMORIALIZED 19 SOLDIERS WHO DIED IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, PART OF THE CHAMBER'S ANNUAL "MILITARY FAMILY DAY."
SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX, D-GROSSE TETE, WHO STARTED THE YEARLY EVENT IN 2005, SAID MORE LOUISIANA SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN KILLED THIS YEAR THAN IN ANY OTHER YEAR SINCE THEY'VE HELD THE EVENT. FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE SOLDIERS FILLED THE SENATE CHAMBER AS INDIVIDUAL CONDOLENCE RESOLUTIONS WERE READ FOR EACH SOLDIER, AND EACH FAMILY WAS GIVEN A STATE FLAG.

HOME BANCORP INC. SAYS IT WILL REPURCHASE UP TO 5 PERCENT OF ITS OUTSTANDING COMMON STOCK. LAFAYETTE-BASED HOME BANCORP IS THE PARENT COMPANY OF HOME BANK. THE REPURCHASES COULD INVOLVE JUST OVER 402,000 SHARES. HOME BANK RECENTLY COMPLETED ANOTHER BUYBACK IN WHICH IT PURCHASED ABOUT 427,000 SHARES OF ITS COMMON STOCK AT AN AVERAGE PRICE OF $13.56 PER SHARE.

LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARE ASKING KEN FEINBERG, WHO IS OVERSEEING THE PAYMENTS FROM A $20 BILLION COMPENSATION FUND FOR VICTIMS OF THE OIL SPILL, TO KEEP OPEN THREE CLAIMS OFFICES HE PLANS TO CLOSE NEXT WEEK. SENATE PRESIDENT JOEL CHAISSON AND HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SENT LETTERS TO FEINBERG ON TUESDAY PUSHING FOR THE CLAIMS OFFICES TO REMAIN OPEN IN LAFITTE, GRAND ISLE AND MORGAN CITY. THE OFFICES ARE SLATED TO CLOSE JUNE 1.

News For Tuesday 05/24/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 052411
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IN WHAT HAS COME AS A SHOCK TO MANY, FORMER BALL MAYOR ROY HEBRON WAS SENTENCED YESTERDAY TO 48 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR HIS ROLE IN THE TOWN'S FRAUDULENT RECEIPT OF DISASTER-CLEANUP MONEY AFTER HURRICANE GUSTAV IN 2008. JUDGE DEE DRELL IN ANNOUNCING THE SENTENCE SAID IT PROVIDES NO CHANCE FOR EARLY RELEASE. DRELL ORDERED HEBRON TO PAY $105,566 IN RESTITUTION TO FEMA, AND LEVIED A $25,000 FINE. HEBRON WILL REPORT JUNE 27 TO A MINIMUM SECURITY FEDERAL PENITENTIARY.

A BILL BY FRANKLINTON REPRESENTATIVE HAROLD RITCHIE, RENEWING FOUR CENTS OF THE EXISTING 36-CENTS-PER-PACK CIGARETTES TAX, IS SCHEDULED FOR A VOTE ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE. HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS WHILE THE VOTES WERE NOT THERE TO LEVY AN INCREASED TAX ON CIGARETTES NO ONE WANTS TO LOWER THE TAX EITHER. HE SAYS THAT WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN GETTING THE EXTENSION PASSED.
THE BILL FACES OPPOSITION FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. IN A STATEMENT EARLIER THIS SPRING GOVERNOR JINDAL STATED HIS OPPOSITION TO ANY TAXES, INCLUDING A RENEWAL. TUCKER SAYS HE DISAGREES WITH THE GOVERNOR'S POSITION.

THE HOUSE IS SCHEDULED TO DEBATE A PROPOSAL TO REPEAL LOUISIANA'S INDIVIDUAL STATE INCOME TAX TODAY. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE UNLIKELY PROPOSAL WOULD MEAN ALMOST A BILLION DOLLARS IN ANNUAL LOSS OF STATE REVENUE, AND HE WANTS TO KNOW HOW LAWMAKERS WOULD HANDLE THE SEVERE BUDGET CUTS TO DO THAT. REP. GREENE SAYS TEXAS AND FLORIDA ARE TWO SOUTHERN STATES THAT HAVE NO INCOME TAX. GREENE SAYS THEY MANAGE TO COPE WITH REVENUE SHORTAGES, WHILE ATTRACTING NEW BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY. GREENE SAYS THE STATE WOULD HAVE TO DECIDE HOW TO GO FORWARD WITH NO INCOME TAXES.

THE STATE HOUSE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO APPROVE BUDGET BILLS THAT CALL FOR THE USE OF ONE-TIME MONEY. LAKE CHARLES REPRESENTATIVE BRETT GEYMANN'S RESOLUTION CALLS FOR A TWO-THIRDS SUPER MAJORITY VOTE BEFORE ONE-TIME MONEY CAN BE SPENT ON RECURRING EXPENSES. HE SAYS ITS A PRACTICE THAT HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH. THE RULE WAS ADOPTED ON A 60-42 VOTE, DESPITE OBJECTIONS FROM THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION. THE CHANGE MEANS IT WILL TAKE A TWO-THIRDS VOTE TO PASS THE BUDGET, WHEN IT COMES UP FOR DISCUSSION TOMORROW. BECAUSE THE PROPOSED BUDGET CONTAINS TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ONE-TIME MONEY. APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANIN SAYS THIS WILL RESULT IN THE BUDGET GOING BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.

LAWMAKERS WORKING ON LOUISIANA'S ANNUAL CONSTRUCTION BUDGET MONDAY STRIPPED DOLLARS FROM A PLANNED $1.2 BILLION PUBLIC HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS, A MOVE THAT IF UPHELD BY THE FULL LEGISLATURE WOULD STALL THE BUILDING OF THE TEACHING AND RESEARCH FACILITY. THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE REMOVED $900 MILLION IN BORROWING AUTHORITY THAT HAD BEEN SET ASIDE FOR THE NEW, 424-BED HOSPITAL CALLED UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER. THE HOSPITAL'S CONSTRUCTION WOULD BE PUSHED BACK AT LEAST ANOTHER YEAR WITHOUT THAT AUTHORITY. CONSTRUCTION WAS SCHEDULED TO START THIS SUMMER.

THE HOUSE PASSES A BILL TO MOVE THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS FROM THE LSU SYSTEM INTO THE U.L. SYSTEM. BILL SPONSOR AND HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS, AFTER FAILING TO GET ENOUGH VOTES FOR MERGING UNO WITH SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY-NEW ORLEANS, HE'S AMENDING THE BILL TO AFFECT UNO ONLY. ANOTHER AMENDMENT TO THE BILL DIRECTS UNO TO WORK WITH SUNO AND DELGADO UNIVERSITY TO SEEK COST EFFICIENCIES THROUGH COOPERATIVE ENDEAVORS.

STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS ARE PREPARING TO RELEASE THE LATEST STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES FOR LOUISIANA PUBLIC SCHOOLS. TUESDAY'S RELEASE WILL BE THE LATEST INDICATION OF HOW SCHOOLS ARE FARING UNDER MORE THAN A DECADE OF SOMETIMES CONTROVERSIAL POLICY CHANGES, INCLUDING THE TAKEOVER OF FAILING SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT NEW ORLEANS. AND THEY COME AS THE STATE LOOKS FOR A REPLACEMENT FOR ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO CHAMPIONED THOSE CHANGES, EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT PAUL PASTOREK, WHO RECENTLY RESIGNED TO RETURN TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR. SCORES WILL BE RELEASED FOR THE "LEAP" TESTS THAT FOURTH- AND EIGHTH-GRADERS MUST PASS TO EARN PROMOTION, THE GRADUATION EXIT EXAM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND THE "ILEAP" TEST GIVEN TO THIRD-, FIFTH-, SIXTH- AND SEVENTH-GRADERS.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE AGREED MONDAY AND APPROVED AN AMENDED VERSION OF HOUSE BILL 544, WHICH REQUIRES SOME ONLINE VENDORS TO ASSESS A SALES TAX AND REMIT THE PROCEEDS TO THE STATE. ALTHOUGH THE STATE CURRENTLY ASKS RESIDENTS TO REPORT ONLINE SHOPPING PURCHASES ON INCOME TAX FORMS SO TAXES CAN BE ASSESSED, FEW PEOPLE DO IT. CURRENTLY, TAXES TOTALING LESS THAN $1 MILLION ARE VOLUNTARILY REPORTED.

THE MANDATORY EVACUATION IS BACK ON FOR BUTTE LA ROSE STARTING TUESDAY AFTERNOON. ST MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNY HIGGINS SAYS EVEN THOUGH THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER LEVELS DID DROP, BACKWATER FLOODING IS BEGINNING TO APPROACH SOME STRUCTURES IN THE AREA. HIGGINS SAYS THE ORDER FOR BUTTE LA ROSE WILL BE REINSTATED STARTING TODAY (AT 12NOON).

ST. LANDRY PARISH SAYS RESIDENTS WILL NOT HAVE TO EVACUATE, NOW THAT REVISED FLOOD CRESTS ARE LOWER THAN FIRST THOUGHT. ST. LANDRY SHERIFF BOBBY GUIDROZ SAYS NO MORE GATES AT THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY ARE SCHEDULED TO BE OPENED, SO HIGHER WATER ISN'T EXPECTED.

THE US COAST GUARD HAS REOPENED THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT BATON ROUGE TO NORTHBOUND TRAFFIC. THE RIVER WAS CLOSED SINCE FRIDAY NEAR THE US 190 BRIDGE IN BATON ROUGE AFTER SEVERAL BARGES GOT LOOSE. PORT OF SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA OPERATIONS DIRECTOR MITCH SMITH SAYS THE IMPACT SO FAR ON CARGO TRAFFIC HAS BEEN MINOR. SMITH SAYS IT WAS LUCKY THAT THE BARGES THAT SANK CONTAINED GRAIN
AND NOT ANY HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE HAVE ANNOUNCED THEY HAVE MADE AN ARREST OF THE FINAL SUSPECT IN THE ALLEGED GANG RAPE OF THREE YOUNG GIRLS. 35-YEAR OLD LAWRENCE RICKS JR. OF VENTRESS WAS BOOKED INTO THE ST. LANDRY PARISH JAIL. THE THREE GIRLS, ALL UNDER THE AGE OF NINE, WERE ALLEGEDLY ABUSED BY A GROUP OF EIGHT ADULTS. STATE POLICE TROOPER STEPHEN HAMMONS SAYS AT LEAST FOUR OF THE ADULTS WERE RELATED TO THE VICTIMS. SEVEN OTHER SUSPECTS WERE TAKEN IN FRIDAY. RICKS SURRENDERED WITHOUT INCIDENT MONDAY.

LOUISIANA'S TREASURER SAYS THE STATE JOINS 35 OTHERS AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA IN A SETTLEMENT WITH INSURER JOHN HANCOCK THAT COULD MEAN MONEY IN THE POCKET FOR SOME LOUISIANA FAMILIES. JOHN KENNEDY SAYS LOUISIANA WILL SHARE IN $1 MILLION IN UNCLAIMED INSURANCE PROCEEDS DISCOVERED AFTER AN AUDIT FOUND THAT JOHN HANCOCK HAD FAILED TO PROPERLY REPORT UNCLAIMED LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS REJECTED A NEW ORLEANS LAWMAKER'S BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW TWO UNMARRIED, SAME-SEX ADULTS TO ADOPT A CHILD TOGETHER. DEMOCRAT HELENA MORENO SAID THAT PUBLIC OPINION HAS WARMED TO THE IDEA OF GAY ADOPTION SINCE THE BILL FAILED LAST YEAR, BUT THE HOUSE CIVIL LAW AND PROCEDURE COMMITTEE DISAGREED AND SHELVED THE PROPOSAL MONDAY.

GAS PRICES HAVE FINALLY STARTED DROPPING. AAA REPORTS THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE FOR A GALLON OF REGULAR GAS IS $3.72 A GALLON. THAT'S 10 CENTS LESS THAN A WEEK AGO.

News For Monday 05/23/11 (update )


NEWS FOR MONDAY 052311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AS BACKWATER FLOODING BEGINS TO ENCROACH ON THE AREA, THE MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER FOR THE BUTTE LAROSE AREA WILL BE REINSTATED AT NOON ON TUESDAY. A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE ST. MARGIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SAYS THAT ENGINEERS SAID BACKWATER FLOODING IS BEGINNING TO APPROACH SOME STRUCTURES IN THE AREA. SAND BAGGING OPERATIONS FOR THE BELLE RIVER AREA WILL BE SUSPENDED ON MONDAY AND RESIDENTS CAN FILL THEIR OWN SAND BAGS AT THE LOCATIONS IN STEPHENSVILLE. STARTING AT NOON TUESDAY, ENTRY INTO THE BUTTE LAROSE AREA WILL BE STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SAYS THEY WILL BE FORCED TO CLOSE FIVE STATE PRISONS AS A RESULT OF THE CUTTING OF THEIR BUDGET BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SECRETARY JIMMY LEBLANC SAYS THESE "NON PERSONNEL" CUTS WILL DESTABILIZE PRISONS. ACTIONS BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TOOK $27.5 MILLION OUT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONS BUDGET. LEBLANC SAYS UNLESS THE MONEY IS PUT BACK IN, PRISONS WILL HAVE TO BE CLOSED AND ABOUT 4600 OFFENDERS WOULD HAVE TO BE MOVED TO PARISH JAILS OR BE RELEASED EARLY. FOUR OF THE PRISONS THAT COULD CLOSE ARE LOCATED IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA.

OV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE REACTED IN A NEAR-PANIC TO CUTS PROPOSED FOR NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET BY THE HOUSE BUDGET-WRITING COMMITTEE, WITH JINDAL LEADERS CALLING THEM IRRESPONSIBLE AND RIDICULOUS AND WITH HIS FINANCIAL CHIEF ACTUALLY SAYING, "THE SKY IS FALLING." HOWEVER, PROPOSALS TO DRAIN BILLIONS FROM STATE COFFERS THROUGH INCOME TAX BREAKS HAVEN'T RECEIVED ANY OUTWARD SENSE OF ALARM. THE BUDGET CUTS SUGGESTED BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE WOULD TRIM $139 MILLION. THE REPEAL OF STATE PERSONAL AND CORPORATE INCOME TAXES WOULD STRIP ANYWHERE FROM $605 MILLION TO $943 MILLION IN ITS FIRST YEAR AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ANNUALLY A FEW YEARS LATER. BOTH BILLS ARE UP FOR DEBATE IN THE LEGISLATURE NEXT WEEK: THE BUDGET IN THE HOUSE ON WEDNESDAY AND THE TAX BREAKS IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY.

A PANEL OF 3RD CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL JUDGES HAS RULED A 9TH DISTRICT COURT JUDGE'S 10-YEAR SENTENCE OF COURTNEY PAUL SAVOY FOR BEING A HABITUAL OFFENDER WAS EXCESSIVE. BUT THE PANEL DID AFFIRM SAVOY'S CONVICTION AS A THREE-TIME FELONY OFFENDER. THE 3RD CIRCUIT SENT THE MATTER BACK TO JUDGE TOM YEAGER FOR A RESENTENCING HEARING FOR SAVOY, AN INMATE FROM WINNFIELD WHO WAS CONVICTED OF HELPING ANOTHER INMATE ESCAPE FROM A VAN THAT HAD TRANSPORTED THE PAIR TO HUEY P. LONG MEDICAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE IN 2007. SAVOY DID NOT ESCAPE BUT AIDED IN THE OTHER INMATE'S ESCAPE.

ROBIN L. HOOTER HAS ANNOUNCED HER CANDIDACY FOR CLERK OF COURT IN RAPIDES PARISH IN THE OCT. 22 PRIMARY ELECTION. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE CHIEF DEPUTY CLERK OF COURT AND A CERTIFIED DEPUTY CLERK WITH THE LOUISIANA CLERKS OF COURT ASSOCIATION. HOOTER HAS 23 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE RAPIDES PARISH CLERK OF COURT'S OFFICE, SERVING THE PAST SEVEN YEARS AS CHIEF DEPUTY.

BRIAN THOMPSON IS (ALSO) RUNNING FOR RAPIDES PARISH CLERK OF COURT, HAVING MADE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT LAST WEEK OUTSIDE THE RAPIDES PARISH COURTHOUSE. THOMPSON HAS BEEN AN ATTORNEY WITH A LAW PRACTICE IN ALEXANDRIA FOR ABOUT 13 YEARS.

SEVEN ADULTS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AFTER A JOINT INVESTIGATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES RESULTED IN ALLEGATIONS THAT THE SUSPECTS HAD ALLEGEDLY FORCED THREE CHILDREN TO HAVE SEX WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FAMILY FRIENDS. THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED INCEST AND AGGRAVATED RAPE. AUTHORITIES ARE STILL LOOKING FOR AN EIGHTH SUSPECT. THE INITIAL INFORMATION INDICATED THAT IN OCTOBER 2010, THREE YOUNG GIRLS UNDER THE AGE OF 9 WERE FORCED TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH EIGHT ADULTS AT A RESIDENCE IN THE CHURCH POINT AREA.

THE NATIONAL "CLICK IT OR TICKET" SEAT BELT CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF TODAY. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS IT'S ABOUT RAISING AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF BUCKLING UP. HE SAYS WEARING A SEAT BELT CAN MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH. GRAHAM SAYS TROOPERS WILL BE OUT IN FULL FORCE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T WEARING THEIR SEATBELT. GRAHAM SAYS STATE LAW REQUIRES EVERYONE IN A VEHICLE TO BE WEARING A SEATBELT. HE SAYS CHILDREN ALSO NEED TO BE PROPERLY RESTRAINED IN A CHILD SEAT.

THE FEDERAL ENERGY DEPARTMENT HAS APPROVED PLANS FOR A LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS EXPORTING FACILITY IN CAMERON PARISH. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAYS CHENIERE ENERGY'S PLANT AT SABINE PASS WILL BE THE FIRST OF IT'S KIND IN THE LOWER 48 STATES. LANDRIEU SAYS CHENIERE IS INVESTING ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS IN THE FACILITY, WHICH SHE SAYS WILL CREATE UP TO 150 DIRECT JOBS, AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIRECT JOBS. CONSTRUCTION OF THE PLANT WILL EMPLOY UP TO 3000. LANDRIEU SAYS IT'S GOOD NEWS FOR LOUISIANA AND THE COUNTRY'S DOMESTIC ENERGY INDUSTRY. LANDRIEU SAYS THIS WILL BE THE FIRST BI-DIRECTIONAL EXPORTING FACILITY FOR LNG IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.

A BILL IS ON ITS WAY TO THE HOUSE FLOOR WHICH WOULD INCREASE WHAT MOST STATE WORKERS CONTRIBUTE TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT BY THREE PERCENT. THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE VOTED 6 TO 4 TO SEND THE BILL TO THE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. THE BILLS AUTHOR, RIVER RIDGE REPRESENTATIVE KIRK TALBOT THE CHANGE IS NEEDED TO PUT THE RETIREMENT PROGRAM BACK ON TRACK. IF THE BILL PASSES IT WOULD SAVE THE STATE 70-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR AND WOULD COSTS THE AVERAGE STATE EMPLOYEE AND ADDITIONAL 1,350-DOLLARS A YEAR. COMMITTEE MEMBER, NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE JUAN LAFONTA, VOTED AGAINST THE BILL. HE SAYS THE BILL IS AN ATTEMPT TO LET THE STATE OFF THE HOOK FOR THEIR SHARE OF THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE RETIREMENT PROGRAM AND SHIFT THE BURDEN TO STATE EMPLOYEES.

THE COAST GUARD WAS KEEPING A NINE-MILE SEGMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHUT DOWN SUNDAY UNTIL IT SETTLED ON A PLAN TO REMOVE THREE BARGES THAT SANK IN THE WATERWAY. OFFICIALS SAY THE COAST GUARD IS REVIEWING A SALVAGE PLAN OFFERED BY ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CO., WHICH OWNS THE BARGES THAT WERE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT ALONG THE RIVER IN BATON ROUGE. IT’S NOT KNOWN HOW LONG THE REVIEW WOULD TAKE OR HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE TO REMOVE THE VESSELS ONCE THE OPERATION BEGINS. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED FRIDAY WHEN THREE BARGES STRUCK A BRIDGE AND SANK.

BATTERIES, FLASHLIGHTS AND OTHER HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS ITEMS CAN BE PURCHASED IN LOUISIANA FREE FROM STATE SALES TAX NEXT WEEKEND AS PART OF AN ANNUAL STATE TAX HOLIDAY NOW IN ITS FOURTH YEAR. THE HOLIDAY IS HELD EACH YEAR ON THE LAST SATURDAY AND SUNDAY OF MAY AND IS TIMED TO PRECEDE THE JUNE 1 START OF ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON. THIS YEAR, THE HOLIDAY FALLS ON MAY 28 AND 29.

AN INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY INTO THE DEATHS OF TWO WORKERS OVERCOME BY A CHEMICAL AT A CHLORINE FACTORY BEING BUILT SOUTH OF PLAQUEMINE. STATE POLICE SAY THE FIRST PERSON OVERCOME WAS A CONTRACTOR WHO HAD GONE IN THE CONFINED SPACE TO RETRIEVE TOOLS. THE OTHER WAS A COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE WHO WENT INTO THE CONTAINER AND ALSO DIED.

SPORTS..

DAVID TOMS HAS FINALLY NOTCHED HIS 13TH PGA TOUR WIN BY SHOOTING A THREE-UNDER 67 ON SUNDAY TO AT THE CROWNE PLAZA INVITATIONAL AT COLONIAL. TOMS SQUANDERED A SEVEN-SHOT, 36 HOLE LEAD WITH A 74 ON SATURDAY AND FINISHED AT 15-UNDER 265 TO BEST THIRD-ROUND LEADER CHARLIE WI BY ONE STROKE. THIS IS THE SECOND TIME TOMS HAS CONVERTED AN 18-HOLE LEAD INTO A VICTORY, WITH THE OTHER COMING AT THE 2001 MICHELOB CHAMPIONSHIP.

LSU HAS FINISHED IT'S REGULAR SEASON AT 36-20 AND 13-17 IN THE SEC. AUSTIN NOLA GOT TWO BIG HITS IN RBI SITUATIONS AND A KEY TWO-RUN HOME RUN FROM RAPH RHYMES WAS KEY IN SATURDAY'S 6-3 VICTORY AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE. LSU IS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE SEC TOURNAMENT, BUT THE TIGERS DO STILL HAVE A SHOT AT THE NCAA TOURNAMENT.

LOUISIANA TECH WILL HAVE THE NO 3 SEED AND WILL FACE SIXTH-SEEDED NEW MEXICO STATE IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE WAC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT. TECH AND NEVADA TIED FOR THIRD BUT THE BULLDOGS WON THE TIEBREAKER OVER THE WOLF PACK FOR THE NO 3 SPOT BY WINNING THREE OUT OF THE FOUR GAMES PLAYED BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS THIS SEASON. NEW MEXICO STATE WAS SOLIDIFIED AS THE SIXTH SEED FRIDAY. TECH'S TOURNEY ACTION STARTS WEDNESDAY WITH A 7PM FIRST PITCH SCHEDULED.

SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY WAS DEFEATED BY ALCORN STATE, 12-6 IN THE SWAC TOURNAMENT.

NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY JUNIOR RIGHT HANDER SETH WEBSTER WAS NAMED THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS SEASON...AFTER JUMP STARTING A THREE GAME SWEEP TO CLINCH A CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT BERTH WITH HIS LEAGUE LEADING SIXTH COMPLETE GAME OF THE SEASON.

THE LEGENDARY CAREER OF HEAD COACH YVETTE GIROUARD CAME TO A CLOSE AS THE NO 20 LSU SOFTBALL TEAM FELL 3-1 TO NO 18 TEXAS A&M SUNDAY AT THE AGGIE SOFTBALL COMPLEX. LSU WAS FACING ELIMINATION FOR THE THIRD TIME AT THE NCAA COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL AND CARRIED A 1-0 ADVANTAGE FOR MOST OF THE GAME. GIROUARD SAID RUNS WERE HARD TO COME BY FOR THE TIGERS BUT SHE IS VERY PROUD OF THE TEAM FOR FIGHTING TO END.

THE 25TH RANKED RAGIN CAJUNS SAW ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL SEASON COME TO AN END ON SUNDAY AS THEY FELL TO HOUSTON 4-1 IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT THE NCAA AUSTIN REGIONAL. THE CAJUNS FELL VICTIM TO TWO HOME RUNS THAT PLATED THREE OF THE COUGARS FOUR RUNS. ON THE SEASON, THE CAJUNS SET A NEW SUN BELT AND ULL RECORD WITH 481 RUNS SCORED. THE TOTAL IS NOW THE TENTH HIGHEST IN NCAA HISTORY.

News For Monday


NEWS FOR MONDAY 052311
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AS BACKWATER FLOODING BEGINS TO ENCROACH ON THE AREA, THE MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER FOR THE BUTTE LAROSE AREA WILL BE REINSTATED AT NOON ON TUESDAY. A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE ST. MARGIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SAYS THAT ENGINEERS SAID BACKWATER FLOODING IS BEGINNING TO APPROACH SOME STRUCTURES IN THE AREA. SAND BAGGING OPERATIONS FOR THE BELLE RIVER AREA WILL BE SUSPENDED ON MONDAY AND RESIDENTS CAN FILL THEIR OWN SAND BAGS AT THE LOCATIONS IN STEPHENSVILLE. STARTING AT NOON TUESDAY, ENTRY INTO THE BUTTE LAROSE AREA WILL BE STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION SAYS THEY WILL BE FORCED TO CLOSE FIVE STATE PRISONS AS A RESULT OF THE CUTTING OF THEIR BUDGET BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SECRETARY JIMMY LEBLANC SAYS THESE "NON PERSONNEL" CUTS WILL DESTABILIZE PRISONS. ACTIONS BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TOOK $27.5 MILLION OUT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONS BUDGET. LEBLANC SAYS UNLESS THE MONEY IS PUT BACK IN, PRISONS WILL HAVE TO BE CLOSED AND ABOUT 4600 OFFENDERS WOULD HAVE TO BE MOVED TO PARISH JAILS OR BE RELEASED EARLY. FOUR OF THE PRISONS THAT COULD CLOSE ARE LOCATED IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA.

OV. BOBBY JINDAL'S OFFICE REACTED IN A NEAR-PANIC TO CUTS PROPOSED FOR NEXT YEAR'S $25 BILLION BUDGET BY THE HOUSE BUDGET-WRITING COMMITTEE, WITH JINDAL LEADERS CALLING THEM IRRESPONSIBLE AND RIDICULOUS AND WITH HIS FINANCIAL CHIEF ACTUALLY SAYING, "THE SKY IS FALLING." HOWEVER, PROPOSALS TO DRAIN BILLIONS FROM STATE COFFERS THROUGH INCOME TAX BREAKS HAVEN'T RECEIVED ANY OUTWARD SENSE OF ALARM. THE BUDGET CUTS SUGGESTED BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE WOULD TRIM $139 MILLION. THE REPEAL OF STATE PERSONAL AND CORPORATE INCOME TAXES WOULD STRIP ANYWHERE FROM $605 MILLION TO $943 MILLION IN ITS FIRST YEAR AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ANNUALLY A FEW YEARS LATER. BOTH BILLS ARE UP FOR DEBATE IN THE LEGISLATURE NEXT WEEK: THE BUDGET IN THE HOUSE ON WEDNESDAY AND THE TAX BREAKS IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY.

A PANEL OF 3RD CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEAL JUDGES HAS RULED A 9TH DISTRICT COURT JUDGE'S 10-YEAR SENTENCE OF COURTNEY PAUL SAVOY FOR BEING A HABITUAL OFFENDER WAS EXCESSIVE. BUT THE PANEL DID AFFIRM SAVOY'S CONVICTION AS A THREE-TIME FELONY OFFENDER. THE 3RD CIRCUIT SENT THE MATTER BACK TO JUDGE TOM YEAGER FOR A RESENTENCING HEARING FOR SAVOY, AN INMATE FROM WINNFIELD WHO WAS CONVICTED OF HELPING ANOTHER INMATE ESCAPE FROM A VAN THAT HAD TRANSPORTED THE PAIR TO HUEY P. LONG MEDICAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE IN 2007. SAVOY DID NOT ESCAPE BUT AIDED IN THE OTHER INMATE'S ESCAPE.

ROBIN L. HOOTER HAS ANNOUNCED HER CANDIDACY FOR CLERK OF COURT IN RAPIDES PARISH IN THE OCT. 22 PRIMARY ELECTION. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE CHIEF DEPUTY CLERK OF COURT AND A CERTIFIED DEPUTY CLERK WITH THE LOUISIANA CLERKS OF COURT ASSOCIATION. HOOTER HAS 23 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE RAPIDES PARISH CLERK OF COURT'S OFFICE, SERVING THE PAST SEVEN YEARS AS CHIEF DEPUTY.

BRIAN THOMPSON IS (ALSO) RUNNING FOR RAPIDES PARISH CLERK OF COURT, HAVING MADE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT LAST WEEK OUTSIDE THE RAPIDES PARISH COURTHOUSE. THOMPSON HAS BEEN AN ATTORNEY WITH A LAW PRACTICE IN ALEXANDRIA FOR ABOUT 13 YEARS.

SEVEN ADULTS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE AFTER A JOINT INVESTIGATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES RESULTED IN ALLEGATIONS THAT THE SUSPECTS HAD ALLEGEDLY FORCED THREE CHILDREN TO HAVE SEX WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FAMILY FRIENDS. THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED INCEST AND AGGRAVATED RAPE. AUTHORITIES ARE STILL LOOKING FOR AN EIGHTH SUSPECT. THE INITIAL INFORMATION INDICATED THAT IN OCTOBER 2010, THREE YOUNG GIRLS UNDER THE AGE OF 9 WERE FORCED TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH EIGHT ADULTS AT A RESIDENCE IN THE CHURCH POINT AREA.

THE NATIONAL "CLICK IT OR TICKET" SEAT BELT CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF TODAY. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS IT'S ABOUT RAISING AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF BUCKLING UP. HE SAYS WEARING A SEAT BELT CAN MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH. GRAHAM SAYS TROOPERS WILL BE OUT IN FULL FORCE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T WEARING THEIR SEATBELT. GRAHAM SAYS STATE LAW REQUIRES EVERYONE IN A VEHICLE TO BE WEARING A SEATBELT. HE SAYS CHILDREN ALSO NEED TO BE PROPERLY RESTRAINED IN A CHILD SEAT.

THE FEDERAL ENERGY DEPARTMENT HAS APPROVED PLANS FOR A LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS EXPORTING FACILITY IN CAMERON PARISH. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU SAYS CHENIERE ENERGY'S PLANT AT SABINE PASS WILL BE THE FIRST OF IT'S KIND IN THE LOWER 48 STATES. LANDRIEU SAYS CHENIERE IS INVESTING ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS IN THE FACILITY, WHICH SHE SAYS WILL CREATE UP TO 150 DIRECT JOBS, AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIRECT JOBS. CONSTRUCTION OF THE PLANT WILL EMPLOY UP TO 3000. LANDRIEU SAYS IT'S GOOD NEWS FOR LOUISIANA AND THE COUNTRY'S DOMESTIC ENERGY INDUSTRY. LANDRIEU SAYS THIS WILL BE THE FIRST BI-DIRECTIONAL EXPORTING FACILITY FOR LNG IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.

A BILL IS ON ITS WAY TO THE HOUSE FLOOR WHICH WOULD INCREASE WHAT MOST STATE WORKERS CONTRIBUTE TOWARD THEIR RETIREMENT BY THREE PERCENT. THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE VOTED 6 TO 4 TO SEND THE BILL TO THE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. THE BILLS AUTHOR, RIVER RIDGE REPRESENTATIVE KIRK TALBOT THE CHANGE IS NEEDED TO PUT THE RETIREMENT PROGRAM BACK ON TRACK. IF THE BILL PASSES IT WOULD SAVE THE STATE 70-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR AND WOULD COSTS THE AVERAGE STATE EMPLOYEE AND ADDITIONAL 1,350-DOLLARS A YEAR. COMMITTEE MEMBER, NEW ORLEANS REPRESENTATIVE JUAN LAFONTA, VOTED AGAINST THE BILL. HE SAYS THE BILL IS AN ATTEMPT TO LET THE STATE OFF THE HOOK FOR THEIR SHARE OF THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE RETIREMENT PROGRAM AND SHIFT THE BURDEN TO STATE EMPLOYEES.

THE COAST GUARD WAS KEEPING A NINE-MILE SEGMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHUT DOWN SUNDAY UNTIL IT SETTLED ON A PLAN TO REMOVE THREE BARGES THAT SANK IN THE WATERWAY. OFFICIALS SAY THE COAST GUARD IS REVIEWING A SALVAGE PLAN OFFERED BY ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CO., WHICH OWNS THE BARGES THAT WERE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT ALONG THE RIVER IN BATON ROUGE. IT’S NOT KNOWN HOW LONG THE REVIEW WOULD TAKE OR HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE TO REMOVE THE VESSELS ONCE THE OPERATION BEGINS. THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED FRIDAY WHEN THREE BARGES STRUCK A BRIDGE AND SANK.






News For Friday 05/20/11


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 052011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AFTER ALMOST 11 YEARS AS ALEXANDRIA HOUSING AUTHORITY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WANDA DAVIS IS OUT. ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF THE AHA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS VOTED TO FIRE DAVIS YESTERDAY. DAVIS WAS THEN ESCORTED OUT OF THE BUILDING. DAVIS HAD HELD THE POSITION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SINCE THE SUMMER OF 2000, BUT HAD WORKED FOR HOUSING AUTHORITY SINCE 1984. DAVIS WILL BE PAID FOR THE NEXT 60 DAYS, BUT IS BARRED FROM AHA PROPERTY AND COMPUTERS. HOWEVER, SHE WILL BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TODAY, UNDER GUARD, TO RETRIEVE PERSONAL BELONGINGS. DAVIS INDICATED SHE WOULD FIGHT HER TERMINATION. SHE REQUESTED A "NAME-CLEARING" HEARING WITHIN 10 DAYS AND REFUSED TO SIGN THE TERMINATION LETTER.

A 15-YEAR-OLD BOY IS FACING A NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE CHARGE IN THE DEATH OF A 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO DIED WEDNESDAY FROM INJURIES SUFFERED WHEN HE WAS SET ON FIRE. THE RPSO IS NOT RELEASING THE NAMES OF THE VICTIM AND THE SUSPECT AT THIS TIME. A SPOKES PERSON SAYS, ON SUNDAY, THREE BOYS WERE PLAYING WITH GASOLINE WHEN APPARENTLY SOME SPILLED ON THE 16-YEAR-OLD BOY. IT’S BELIEVED THE 15-YEAR-OLD BEGAN TAUNTING THE 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WITH A CIGARETTE LIGHTER, ACCIDENTALLY SETTING HIM ABLAZE. THE BOY SUFFERED BURNS ON MORE THAN 65 PERCENT OF HIS BODY,

AFTER HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS HE'D FAIL TO HAVE THE NECESSARY VOTES THAT WOULD MERGE SUNO WITH UNO, THE BILL HAS NOW BEEN CHANGED TO SIMPLY TRANSFER UNO INTO THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA SYSTEM. THE PROPOSAL EASILY PASSED THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE. THE BILL'S AUTHOR METAIRIE SEN CONRAD APPEL SAYS THIS BILL HAS NO IMPACT ON SUNO. APPEL SAYS THE UL SYSTEM WILL BE A BETTER FIT FOR UNO THAN THE COMPETITIVE LSU SYSTEM. APPEL SAYS UNDER THE UL SYSTEM, UNO WILL NOW HAVE MORE RESOURCES AVAILABLE, WILL HAVE MORE FLEXIBILITY TO ADD AND REMOVE PROGRAMS AND WILL BETTER BE ABLE TO GROW AND PROSPER. HE SAYS OTHERWISE THERE WON'T BE MUCH DIFFERENCE. THE BILL NOW HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

A SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES A BILL THAT WOULD MAKE BIG RIGS KEEP RIGHT ON MULTI-LANE ROADS. BILL AUTHOR SEN. ROB MARIONNEAUX, OF LIVONIA, SAYS THE "RIGHT LANE ONLY" POLICY FOR TRUCKS ON I-10 OVER THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN--PUT IN PLACE BY DOTD 7 YEARS AGO--SUPPORTS DOING THE SAME THING STATEWIDE. MARIONNEAUX'S BILL WOULD MAKE 18-WHEELERS STAY IN THE RIGHT LANE ON MULTI-LANE HIGHWAYS, LETTING THEM USE THE LEFT LANE ONLY TO PASS SLOWER TRAFFIC AND MAKE AN APPROACHING LEFT TURN. HE SAYS HIS BILL IS AN ISSUE OF SAFETY FOR THE TRAVELING PUBLIC. THE LOUISIANA MOTOR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION IS OPPOSING THE LEGISLATION.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HAS AMENDED A HOUSE BILL THAT REMOVES $800,000 FROM THE TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM WITH LOUISIANA STATE'S POLICE BUDGET. SUPERINTENDENT COL MIKE EDMONSON SAYS THIS MEANS THE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE FORCED TO LAYOFF STATE TROOPERS. HE SAYS THAT'S THE LAST THING HE WANTS TO DO. EDMONSON SAYS A LAYOFF IN TROOPERS WOULD DIRECTLY AFFECT PUBLIC SAFETY. EDMONSON SAYS 90% OF HIS BUDGET IS SALARY DOLLARS. HE SAYS IF STATE POLICE IS FORCED TO LAY OFF TROOPERS IT WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE NUMBER OF CRIMINAL ARRESTS MADE, CRASHES INVESTIGATED, MOTORISTS ASSISTED AND RESPONSE TIMES.

HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION MAY BE OVER STATING THE BAD EFFECTS THAT WILL COME FROM HOUSE MEMBERS STRIPPING CONTINGENCY FUNDS FROM THE STATE BUDGET BILL. TUCKER SAYS THE CUTS MADE TO THE BUDGET ONLY AMOUNT TO AROUND $150-MILLION. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE GOT ANGRY WHEN THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MADE CUTS TO AREAS THAT WERE CONTINGENT ON SELLING STATE PRISONS, INCREASING STATE WORKERS' RETIREMENT EXPENSE AND OTHER PLANS TO FILL IN BUDGET GAPS. TUCKER SAYS MANY PARTS OF THE JINDAL PLAN WERE FOUND WANTING BY HOUSE MEMBERS. JINDAL DEPARTMENT HEADS SAY THE HOUSE'S ACTION WILL MEAN SUSPENSION OF STATE SERVICES, CLOSURES OF VETERANS OFFICES, STATE CEMETERIES AND EVEN LAYOFFS AT THE STATE POLICE. TUCKER SAYS THE SITUATION IS PROBABLY NOT AS DIRE AS THAT, BUT THERE IS TIME FOR FURTHER BUDGET REVISIONS.

A 24 YEAR OLD CHESTNUT MAN WAS KILLED LAST NIGHT IN A SINGLE VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 486 EAST OF CAMPTI WHEN HE LOST CONTROL AND STRUCK A DITCH. PERRY NASH, WHO STATE POLICE SAY WAS NOT WEARING A SEATBELT, WAS EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE AND DIED AT THE SCENE. A PASSENGER WAS INJURED AND TAKEN TO THE LSU MEDICAL CENTER IN SHREVEPORT.

THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER IN ST. MARTIN PARISH IS EXPECTED TO RISE NEARLY A FOOT A DAY UNTIL IT CRESTS AT AN ESTIMATED 27 FEET ON TUESDAY. A MANDATORY EVACUATION STARTS SATURDAY IN BUTTE LAROSE AND TWO OTHER TOWNS. JONATHAN BRAZZELL, WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, SAYS THEY EXPECT THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER TO RISE ANOTHER SIX FEET.

THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT VIDALIA IS NOW EXPECTED TO CREST LOWER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT. VIDALIA MAYOR HYRAM COPELAND SAYS HIS CITY'S RIVERFRONT IS UNDERWATER, BUT NOT ONE DROP OF WATER HAS MADE IT INTO ANY OF THEIR BUILDINGS THANKS TO SANDBAGS AND HESCO BASKETS. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS LOWERED ITS VIDALIA CREST LEVEL PREDICTION BY HALF A FOOT.

STATE OFFICIALS HAVE LOWERED THE SPEED LIMIT ON PARTS OF HIGHWAY 190 IN HOPES OF REDUCING THE NUMBERS OF CRASHES BETWEEN VEHICLES AND WILDLIFE FLEEING THE FLOOD. STATE POLICE SPOKESPERSON TROOPER RUSSELL GRAHAM SAYS THE NEW LIMIT IS BETWEEN THE TOWNS OF KROTZ SPRINGS AND LOTTIE. GRAHAM SAYS THIS IS JUST A SAFETY PRECAUTION.

A SENATE COMMITTEE REJECTS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE BANNED LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM USING SPEED CAMERAS. METAIRIE SENATOR DANNY MARTINY SAYS THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS UNFAIR BECAUSE THERE IS NO FAIR WAY TO APPEAL A CAMERA ISSUED TICKET WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF INCURRING AN ADDITIONAL FINE. SHREVEPORT SENATOR LYDIA JACKSON SAYS THE BILL WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IF IT HAD SET UP A SYSTEM OF APPEAL OR DUE PROCESS. AS IT WAS WRITTEN, SHE SAYS, IT INTERFERES WITH THE RIGHTS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

GOV. JINDAL HAS EARNED AT LEAST $100-THOUSAND FOR HIS BOOK "LEADERSHIP AND CRISIS." THE INCOME FROM THE BOOK IS INCLUDED ON THE GOVERNOR'S 2010 PERSONAL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT, WHICH WAS FILED WITH THE STATE ETHICS BOARD THIS WEEK.

THE STATE SENATE APPROVES A BILL THAT WOULD GIVE PARENTS WITH CHILDREN IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS A LARGER TAX BREAK. THE BILLS AUTHOR, GROSS TETE SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX SAYS THE BILL WOULD ALLOW A 5-THOUSAND DOLLAR STATE INCOME TAX DEDUCTION PER CHILD FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. HE SAYS THE DEDUCTION WILL REDUCE STATE REVENUES BY 5.3-MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FORECASTERS ARE CALLING FOR AN ABOVE NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON THIS YEAR. NOAA ADMINISTRATOR DR. JANE LUBCHENCO SAYS IT WILL LIKELY INCLUDE 12 TO 18 NAMED STORMS. LUBCHENCO SAYS OF THOSE STORMS THREE TO SIX COULD BECOME MAJOR HURRICANES.

A 25-SQUARE-MILE AREA IS BEING SEARCHED FOR THREE PEOPLE MISSING AFTER A CARGO SHIP COLLIDED WITH A FISHING BOAT WEDNESDAY NIGHT OFF THE MISSISSIPPI COAST.
THE 163-FOOT FISHING BOAT SANDY POINT SANK AFTER IT WAS RAMMED BY THE 660-FOOT EURUS LONDON SHORTLY BEFORE 9 P.M. WEDNESDAY. COAST GUARD CAPT. DON ROSE IN MOBILE, ALA., SAID THURSDAY THAT THE FISHING BOAT SANK ON THE EDGE OF THE MISSISSIPPI SOUND CHANNEL IN ABOUT 25 FEET OF WATER. ROSE SAID THE 13 MEN WHO WERE RESCUED FROM THE SANDY POINT SUFFERED BUMPS AND BRUISES BUT ARE IN GOOD CONDITION.

THE HOUSE WATERED DOWN AND THEN REJECTED AN ANTI-BULLYING PROPOSAL FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AFTER AN ANGRY DEBATE IN WHICH OPPONENTS CLAIMED THE MEASURE WAS AN ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE A "GAY AGENDA" IN SCHOOLS. BULLYING OF STUDENTS IS PROHIBITED IN CURRENT LOUISIANA LAW, WITH SCHOOL BOARDS REQUIRED TO INCLUDE SUCH BANS IN STUDENT CODES OF CONDUCT AND DETERMINE PUNISHMENT. THE BILL (HOUSE BILL 112) BY REP. AUSTIN BADON WOULD HAVE DESCRIBED WHAT WAS PROHIBITED TO INCLUDE HARASSMENT BASED ON RACE, RELIGION, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL DISABILITY, PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OR CLOTHING. "NO HUMAN BEING, REGARDLESS OF THEIR LIFESTYLE, SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO THIS TYPE OF ABUSE," SAID BADON, D-NEW ORLEANS. CRITICISM WAS LED BY CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, INCLUDING THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM. OPPONENTS SAID THE PROPOSAL WAS A BACKDOOR ATTEMPT TO MAKE HOMOSEXUALITY MORE ACCEPTABLE IN SCHOOLS. THE HOUSE STRIPPED ANY REFERENCE OF GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THE OTHER QUALIFICATIONS FROM THE MEASURE. THEN LAWMAKERS VOTED 54-43 AGAINST THE PROPOSAL.




News For Thursday 05/19/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE HOUSE BILL THAT WOULD MERGE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY-NEW ORLEANS WITH ITS NEIGHBOR UNO IS APPARENTLY DEAD. ON THE HOUSE FLOOR, THE BILL'S SPONSOR HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS HE WAS UNABLE TO MUSTER UP THE 70 VOTES NEEDED TO PASS THE BILL WITH A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY. THE MERGER OF SUNO AND UNO WAS PART OF GOVERNOR JINDAL'S LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE, BUT FACED STRONG OPPOSITION FROM MANY BLACK LAWMAKERS WHO FEEL IT THREATENS MINORITY EDUCATION IN NEW ORLEANS. TUCKER SAYS HE'S DISAPPOINTED, AS THE MERGER WOULD'VE BEEN AN IMPROVEMENT.

THE STATE REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE HAS DROPPED THE STATE'S REVENUE FORECAST BY $77 MILLION THIS YEAR. WHILE THE PANEL AGREED WEDNESDAY TO LEAVE NEXT YEAR'S ESTIMATES ALONE, THE DROP IN THIS YEAR'S PROJECTIONS WILL HAVE RIPPLE EFFECTS INTO NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JIM FANNIN SAYS HE EXPECTS TO GET PROPOSALS FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE ABOUT HOW TO HANDLE THE MONEY DROP. THERE ARE EXTRA FUNDS LAWMAKERS COULD USE FROM THIS YEAR TO FILL THE GAP AND OFFSET CUTS, BUT LEGISLATORS HAD PLANNED TO USE THOSE DOLLARS TO FILL A SHORTFALL IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET.

STATE OFFICIALS SAY THE MODIFIED BUDGET PLAN BEING DRAWN BY THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MEANS THEY WILL HAVE TO CUT SERVICES AND LAY OFF EMPLOYEES FAR BEYOND WHAT THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY PLANNED. THERE IS A REAL POSSIBILITY THE AVOYELLES CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN COTTONPORT AND J. LEVY DABADIE CORRECTIONAL CENTER IN PINEVILLE COULD BE SHUT DOWN. THE GOVERNOR’S ORIGINAL PLAN CALLED FOR THE FACILITIES TO BE PRIVATIZED. ACCORDING TO LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET, MAJOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA AND ELSEWHERE COULD BE LOST BECAUSE OF THE COMMITTEE'S DECISION TO ELIMINATE $81.8 MILLION IN EXISTING FUNDING FOR LOUISIANA'S MEGA-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT FUND.

THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAID 16 OF 125 BAYS WERE OPEN ON WEDNESDAY AT THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY UPRIVER FROM BATON ROUGE, SENDING WATER FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER INTO THE SWAMPY SPILLWAY AND ON TO THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER AT A RATE OF 108,000 CUBIC FEET PER SECOND. THE TOTAL WAS UP 1 BAY FROM TUESDAY MORNING. FARTHER SOUTH AT THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY UPRIVER FROM NEW ORLEANS, THE CORPS SAID 330 OF 350 BAYS WERE OPEN FLOWING WATER AT A RATE OF 316,000 CUBIC FEET PER SECOND TOWARD LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN.

OFFICIALS IN ST MARTIN PARISH HAVE ISSUED A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER FOR BUTTE LA ROSE, HAPPYTOWN AND SHERBURNE IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN. ST MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S SPOKESPERSON MAJOR GINNY HIGGINS. SAYS SEVERE FLOODING IS EXPECTED FROM THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER STARTING THIS MORNING. ONCE THE RIVER CRESTS, IT'S EXPECTED TO REMAIN AT RECORD LEVELS FOR SEVERAL DAYS. HIGGINS SAYS THEY ARE EXPECTING BETWEEN 5 AND 20 FEET OF WATER IN PORTIONS OF ST MARTIN PARISH. HIGGINS SAYS PEOPLE IN THE AREA ARE TAKING THIS VERY SERIOUSLY...:

LEGISLATION IS SCHEDULED TO BE HEARD IN THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TODAY THAT WOULD CAP THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. THE BILLS AUTHOR, MORGAN CITY SENATOR BUTCH GAUTREAUX, BELIEVES TIMES ARE TOO TIGHT BUDGET-WISE TO CONTINUE PUTTING MORE MONEY INTO THE TOPS PROGRAM. GAUTREAUX SAYS HIS LEGISLATION WOULD SAVE THE STATE $14 MILLION DOLLARS. HE SAYS HE'S NOT TRYING TO GET RID OF THE POPULAR SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM, BUT SIMPLY LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF RESOURCES PUT TOWARDS IT. GAUTREAUX SAYS HIS BILL WOULD REQUIRE TOPS AWARDS TO PAY FOR 90% OF THE TUITION CHARGED BY A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY.

FOR THE THIRD TIME IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS, ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE HAVE BEEN NAMED WINNERS OF THE LOUISIANA GARDEN CLUB FEDERATION'S CLEANEST CITY COMPETITION. IT WAS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW THE TWO CITIES HAVE WON, AND THEY ALSO EACH WON IN 2008. ALEXANDRIA WON THE SECOND-LARGEST CATEGORY, DEFEATING OTHER FINALISTS KENNER, LAKE CHARLES AND MONROE. PINEVILLE, THE WINNER IN THE FOURTH-LARGEST CATEGORY, FINISHED AHEAD OF FINALISTS ABBEVILLE, DENHAM SPRINGS AND EUNICE. JUDGES FROM THE LOUISIANA GARDEN CLUB FEDERATION VISITED ALEXANDRIA AND PINEVILLE LAST WEEK.

A HOUSE COMMITTEE HAS SIDETRACKED A PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE LICENSED ATHLETIC TRAINERS AT JUNIOR HIGH AND HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAMES. SUPPORTERS OF ALEXANDRIA DEMOCRAT CHRIS ROY'S BILL SAY IT WOULD PREVENT INJURIES AND DEATHS OF TEENAGE PLAYERS. SOME COMMITTEE MEMBERS OBJECTED, SAYING IT WOULD IMPOSE AN UNFUNDED MANDATE ON LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS, MANY OF WHICH ALREADY STRUGGLE TO PAY FOR TEACHERS. THE COMMITTEE AMENDED THE BILL TO EXCLUDE ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS. THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE SENT THE BILL TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, RATHER THAN TO THE FLOOR FOR DEBATE.

CANE RIVER LAKE WILL CLOSE MONDAY BECAUSE OF LOW WATER. PROPERTY OWNERS SHOULD REMOVER THEIR BOATS FROM THE LAKE BEFORE THIS. THE LAKE WILL REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL SAFE WATER IS REACHED. DURING THE CLOSURE, NON-POWERED VESSELS AND VESSELS USING ELECTRIC TROLLING MOTORS WITHOUT ANY OTHER MOTOR ABOARD WILL BE PERMITTED.

A PROPOSAL TO PLACE A TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT AT THE LOUISIANA CAPITOL HAS RECEIVED PASSAGE FROM A SENATE COMMITTEE, AFTER SPARKING DEBATES ABOUT THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN LAWMAKING. THE SENATE AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE AGREED WEDNESDAY TO ADVANCE THE PROPOSAL TO THE FULL SENATE. BAPTIST PASTOR MIKE HOLLOWAY CALLED THE DISPLAY A WAY TO SHOW THE STATE'S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE. HE SAYS THE COUNTRY'S LAWS WERE DEVISED FROM THE CONCEPTS OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. THE MONUMENT'S COST WOULD BE PAID BY PRIVATE ENTITIES. SIMILAR MONUMENTS HAVE DRAWN LEGAL CHALLENGES AROUND THE COUNTRY.

THE SENATE HAS REJECTED A GOP BID TO SPEED UP AND EXPAND OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING IN THE FACE OF $4-A-GALLON GASOLINE PRICES. A PROCEDURAL VOTE FAILED WEDNESDAY, 57-42, ON A GOP BID TO SPEED DECISION-MAKING ON DRILLING PERMITS AND FORCE THE GOVERNMENT TO CONDUCT PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED LEASE SALES IN THE GULF OF MEXICO AND OFF VIRGINIA'S COAST. THE SALES WERE SUSPENDED AFTER THE BP OIL SPILL. THE VOTE COMES DAYS AFTER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA DIRECTED HIS ADMINISTRATION TO RAMP UP U.S. OIL PRODUCTION BY EXTENDING EXISTING LEASES IN THE GULF AND OFF ALASKA'S COAST AND HOLDING MORE FREQUENT LEASE SALES IN A FEDERAL PETROLEUM RESERVE IN ALASKA. BOTH PARTIES SAY THEY WANT TO ALLOW RESPONSIBLE OIL AND GAS DRILLING, BUT THEY APPEAR FAR APART ON DETAILS.

AUTHORITIES SAY THE BODY OF A 19-YEAR-OLD WELSH MAN WHO WENT MISSING OVER THE WEEKEND WAS FOUND UNDERNEATH THE INTERSTATE 10 BRIDGE AT LAKE CHARLES.
POLICE SAY STATE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES AGENTS LOCATED THE BODY OF RAY LEE VITAL ON TUESDAY. VITAL, WHO WAS VISITING NORTH BEACH WITH FAMILY, WAS REPORTED MISSING SATURDAY. FAMILY MEMBERS TOLD POLICE THAT VITAL, WHO COULDN'T SWIM, LOST HIS GRIP ON A RAFT AND DISAPPEARED UNDER THE WATER.




NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 05/18/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 051811
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

THE ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL HAS GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO MAYOR JACQUES COMPROMISE BUDGET THAT WAS INTRODUCED EARLIER IN THE WEEK. UNDER THE PLAN RESIDENTS WOULD PAY AN ADDITIONAL 25 CENTS TO RIDE A CITY BUS AND ADMISSION WOULD RAISE BY $2.50 PER PERSON AT THE ZOO. THE COST TO REMOVE GARBAGE AND STORM WATER WILL ALSO INCREASE TO THE TUNE OF $1 PER MONTH FOR EACH UTILITY CUSTOMER. THE NEW FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF MAY.

H.I.P. HAS BEEN GIVEN ANOTHER EXTENSION TO COMPLETE IT’S DEAL TO PURCHASE TWO DOWN TOWN ALEXANDRIA HOTELS. MAYOR JACQUES ROY IS GIVING GROUP UNTIL THE END OF JULY TO COMPLETE A DEAL THAT WOULD LOOK SIMILAR TO, BUT NOT NEARLY AS COMPLEX AS, THE ONE HOSPITALITY INITIATIVES PARTNERSHIP SOLD TO THE CITY NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO. THE MAYOR SAID THE LATEST EXTENSION WILL EXPIRE AT THE END OF JULY.

THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WILL CONDUCT HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAY FROM 9 A.M. TO 1 P.M. SATURDAY AT THE CITY COMPLEX, 2021 INDUSTRIAL PARKWAY IN ALEXANDRIA. HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE IS ANY PRODUCT LABELED TOXIC, POISON, CORROSIVE, FLAMMABLE, COMBUSTIBLE OR IRRITANT THAT IS TO BE DISPOSED OF. A COMPLETE LIST IS AVAILABLE AT KSYL.COM.

THE LATEST DATA SHOWS THAT FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, THE BATON ROUGE METROPOLITAN AREA RANKED SECOND IN THE NATION IN THE RATE OF AIDS CASES.
ACCORDING TO 2009 DATA RELEASED RECENTLY BY THE FEDERAL CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, THE RATE IS 30.6, WHICH MEANS 30.6 PER EVERY 100,000 PEOPLE IN THE BATON ROUGE METRO AREA HAVE ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME. THE RANK FOR THE NEW ORLEANS METROPOLITAN AREA IS 23. THE HIV RATE FOR BLACKS IN LOUISIANA CONTINUES TO BE HIGH — 75 PERCENT OF NEWLY DIAGNOSED HIV CASES AND 76 PERCENT OF NEWLY DIAGNOSED AIDS CASES IN 2009 WERE AMONG BLACKS.

SHIPPING ALREADY CURTAILED BECAUSE OF FLOODING THAT IS PLAGUING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WAS HALTED FOR MUCH OF TUESDAY WHEN OFFICIALS CLOSED THE WATERWAY NORTH OF NEW ORLEANS IN THE LATEST TOUGH DECISION TO TRY TO REDUCE PRESSURE ON LEVEES PROTECTING CITIES AND TOWNS. BY LATE IN THE DAY, BARGES THAT HAUL COAL, TIMBER, IRON, STEEL AND MORE THAN HALF OF AMERICA'S GRAIN EXPORTS WERE ALLOWED TO PASS, BUT AT THE SLOWEST POSSIBLE SPEED. SUCH INTERRUPTIONS COULD COST THE U.S. ECONOMY HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR EACH DAY THE BARGES ARE IDLED, AS THE TOLL FROM THE WEEKS-LONG FLOODING FROM ARKANSAS TO LOUISIANA CONTINUES TO MOUNT. OFFICIALS ALONG A 15-MILE STRETCH AT NATCHEZ, MISS., BLOCKED VESSELS HEADING TOWARD THE GULF OF MEXICO AND OTHERS TRYING TO RETURN NORTH AFTER DROPPING OFF THEIR FREIGHT.

A BILL PROPOSING A BAN ON USING HAND-HELD CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING IS DEFEATED IN THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE. BILL AUTHOR AUSTIN BADON, OF NEW ORLEANS, SAYS HIS BILL WOULD MANDATE USE OF A HANDS-FREE DEVICE, LIKE A BLUETOOTH OR SPEAKER PHONE, WHILE DRIVING. HE SAYS RESTRICTING HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY. OPPOSING THE MEASURE, REP. JEFF ARNOLD, ALSO OF NEW ORLEANS, WHO SAYS THE STATE CANNOT LEGISLATE COMMON SENSE, AND IF PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ON PHONES WHILE DRIVING, THEY WILL. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 8-5 TO REJECT BADON'S BILL. BADON VOWS TO KEEP TRYING 'TIL HE GETS IT PASSED.

THE JINDAL ADMINISTRATION IS UPSET THAT THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HAS CUT NONESSENTIAL SPENDING ACROSS STATE AGENCIES AND RAIDED A STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET. LAWMAKERS STRIPPED OUT ALL CONTINGENT DOLLARS PROPOSED BY GOVERNOR JINDAL, INCLUDING MONEY FROM A PROPOSED PRISON SALE AND FROM REROUTING TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DOLLARS TO THE STATE'S TOPS TUITION PROGRAM. THE COMMITTEE USED 82-MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE STATE'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT "MEGA-FUND" TO COVER THE GAP.
THE 2011-12 BUDGET HEADS TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE NEXT WEEK.

THE FULL HOUSE PASSES A BILL THAT REQUIRES SOME STATE WELFARE CASH RECIPIENTS TO UNDERGO DRUG TESTS. ON THE FLOOR, METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO TELLS MEMBERS HIS BILL WOULD TEST A RANDOM 20% OF APPLICANTS FOR FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM DOLLARS. OPPOSING MEMBERS CHALLENGED THE BILL'S CONSTITUTIONALITY, CALLED IT UNFAIR TO THE POOR AND QUESTIONED WHY NOT DRUG TEST THOSE WHO RECEIVE MILLIONS IN STATE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES. IN THE END , IT PASSED BY A 65-26 VOTE AND WILL NOW BE SENT TO THE SENATE. THIS SAME BILL PASSED THE HOUSE LAST YEAR, BUT WAS KILLED IN THE SENATE.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS THE LATEST FLOOD FORECAST FOR NORTH LOUISIANA ARE IMPROVING. JINDAL SAYS ACCORDING TO THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS THEY ANTICIPATE LESS BACK-FLOODING IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE STATE. HOWEVER, JINDAL SAYS THE THREAT OF SIGNIFICANT FLOODING IN CAJUN COUNTRY CONTINUES. HE SAYS 33-HUNDRED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EVACUATED. THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS NOW HAS 15 OF THE 125 BAYS AT THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN TO FUNNEL MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN.

GOVERNOR JINDAL IS (ALSO) WARNING RESIDENTS TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WILDLIFE FLEEING FLOODWATERS. THE GOVERNOR SAID BEARS HAVE BEEN SEEN IN SOME AREAS, AND REPORTS OF SNAKES MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND ARE COMMON. THE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT HAS ORDERED MORE SUPPLIES OF ANTIVENIN FOR USE BY HOSPITALS AND CLINICS DURING THE EMERGENCY. RESIDENTS HAVE ALSO WITNESSED DEER AND COYOTES ON THE LEVEES LOOKING FOR SHELTER ON HIGHER GROUND.

THE RISING MISSISSIPPI RIVER HAS FORCED THE COAST GUARD TO CLOSE A PORTION OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO ALL BOAT TRAFFIC AT THE PORT IN NATCHEZ. THE COAST GUARD SAYS THIS IS A PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE. IF THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI IS CLOSED TO RIVER TRAFFIC FOR DAYS OR WEEKS, IT COULD COST THE US ECONOMY HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A DAY. THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT NATCHEZ IS EXPECTED TO CREST AT 63 FEET ON SATURDAY. OFFICIALS SAY IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY HOW LONG THE RIVER WILL BE CLOSED TO TRAFFIC.

VIDALIA MAYOR HYRAM COPELAND SAYS AN OLD DRAIN BELOW THE CITY'S RIVERFRONT DEVELOPMENT BLEW OUT AND BRIEFLY SENT WATER TUNNELING UNDER THE BARRIERS PROTECTING THE CONVENTION CENTER. THE LEAK HAS BEEN CONTAINED. OFFICIALS HAVE BUILT WALLS OF HESCO BASKETS AROUND EACH OF FOUR RIVERFRONT BUILDINGS AND TWO CITY WATER WELLS ON THE FLOODED RIVERFRONT. PUMPS WITHIN EACH WALL WILL REMOVE SEEPAGE. COPELAND SAYS THERE'LL BE MORE SEEPAGE AS THE RIVER RISES, BUT THE PUMPS CAN HANDLE IT.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE APPROVED A BILL BY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN HUNTER GREEN OF BATON ROUGE THAT WOULD ELIMINATE INCOME TAXES IN THE STATE. GREEN BELIEVES THIS WOULD BE A GOOD WAY TO CHANGE HOW THINGS ARE DONE IN STATE GOVERNMENT AND IMPROVE THE ECONOMY. GREG ALBRECHT, CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR THE LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICE, SAYS ELIMINATING STATE INCOME TAXES WOULD REDUCE STATE REVENUE BY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND MAKE PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE AND HIGHER EDUCATION EVEN HARDER.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO HEAR LEGISLATION TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE ABORTIONS IN LOUISIANA ILLEGAL. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO WHO SAYS IT'S JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE LOUISIANA BANS ABORTIONS. LABRUZZO'S LEGISLATION DOES NOT ALLOW AN EXCEPTION FOR RAPE OR INCEST. HE SAYS, UNDER THE BILL, A DOCTOR WHO KNOWINGLY PERFORMS AN ABORTION COULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES OF FETICIDE. HE BELIEVES THE BILL WOULD HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNOR. PLANNED PARENTHOOD SPOKESPERSON JULIE MICKLEBERRY SAYS THIS BILL THREATENS THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WOMEN IN THE STATE.

SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX'S BILL BANNING SMOKING IN BARS THAT SERVE FOOD IS ON THE SCHEDULE TODAY IN THE SENATE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE. CHRIS YOUNG, A LOBBYIST FOR LOUISIANA BAR OWNERS, SAYS THE BILL IS SIMPLY MORE GOVERNMENT INTRUSION INTO PRIVATE BUSINESS. YOUNG FEELS THE CURRENT SMOKE FREE AIR ACT SHOULD BE AMENDED TO EXEMPT RESTAURANTS. CARRIE BROUSSARD, WITH THE LOUISIANA CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO FREE LIVING, SAYS THE ISSUE IS PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM THE HAZARDS OF SECOND HAND SMOKE.

A SAD END TO WHAT APPEARS TO BE A DOMESTIC DISPUTE. A PIERRE PART MAN SHOT AND KILLED HIS EX-GIRLFRIEND AT A POPULAR ASSUMPTION PARISH EATERY.. IT HAPPENED AT LANDRY'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT. WITNESSES SAY THE MAN ARGUING WITH A WOMAN, SUDDENLY PULLED A GUN. HE THEN SHOT AND KILLED THE WOMAN. A CUSTOMER, WHO IS LICENSED TO CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON, OPENED FIRE ON THE MAN. THE GUN BATTLE WENT OUTSIDE, WHERE THE MAN TURNED THE GUN ON HIMSELF. THE PATRON TOOK A BULLET AND IS BEING TREATED AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL.

THE SEARCH FOR AN INTERIM LOUISIANA EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT HAS SLOWED AS THE STATE EDUCATION BOARD REMAINS DIVIDED OVER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S CHOICE FOR THE JOB. PENNY DASTUGUE, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, HAD SAID SHE HOPED THE BOARD COULD NAME AN INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT THIS WEEK. BUT ON MONDAY, DASTUGUE TOLD THE ADVOCATE THAT WAS LESS LIKELY BECAUSE THE BOARD HADN'T REACHED A CONSENSUS. ANY SELECTION REQUIRES THE SUPPORT OF AT LEAST EIGHT OF BESE'S 11 MEMBERS. THE JOB IS OPEN BECAUSE PAUL PASTOREK RESIGNED LAST WEEK. JINDAL SUPPORTS JOHN WHITE, WHO IS THE NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT, TO ALSO SERVE AS INTERIM STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION. DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TYLER IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 05/17/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 051711
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

HE IS CALLING IT THE PERFECT COMPROMISE. ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY PRESENTED YET ANOTHER PROPOSAL TO BALANCE THE CITY BUDGET. THE MAYOR SPOKE DURING THE COUNCIL'S SPECIAL FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING LAST NIGHT. HIS NEW PROPOSAL WOULD GENERATE ROUGHLY $775,000 MORE REVENUE THAN LAST YEAR. APPROXIMATELY $525,000 LESS THAN THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL. THE DIFFERENCE WOULD BE MADE UP BY A PROJECTION THAT SALES TAX REVENUES WON'T PLUMMET AS MUCH AS ORIGINALLY ANTICIPATED, AS WELL AS THE USE OF ABOUT $915,000 IN SURPLUS FUNDS. IN ADDITION, THE MAYOR SAID HE PLANS TO SAVE ABOUT $100,000 BY CUTTING HIS ADMINISTRATIVE BUDGET BY 8 PERCENT THROUGH ATTRITION AND THE REDUCTION OF THREE POSITIONS. MAYOR ROY AND COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE HOPING TO REACH SOME TYPE OF AGREEMENT BEFORE TODAY'S COUNCIL MEETING IN ORDER TO INTRODUCE A NEW BUDGET ORDINANCE.

GOVERNMENT FORECASTERS PREDICT RECORD MISSISSIPPI RIVER CRESTS WILL REACH NORTH AND CENTRAL LOUISIANA IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. JEFF GRASCHEL WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS BECAUSE THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY IS OPEN, THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER HAS CRESTED OR IS NEAR CREST LEVEL IN BATON ROUGE AND NEW ORLEANS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS WATER RUSHING THROUGH THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY INTO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN IS MOVING SLOWER THAN EXPECTED. JINDAL SAYS ELEVEN-HUNDRED GUARDSMEN HAVE BEEN ACTIVATED. HE SAYS SEVERAL OTHER AGENCIES ARE ALSO INVOLVED IN FLOOD FIGHTING EFFORTS. THE ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS HAS OPENED TWO MORE FLOOD GATES ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A FLOOD WARNING FOR LOWER ST MARTIN PARISH. MAJOR GINNY HIGGINS WITH THE ST MARTIN PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS SO FAR THEY HAVEN'T SEEN MAJOR FLOODING BUT THEY KNOW MORE WATER IS ON ITS WAY. ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, A SLOW AND STEADY RISE IN
WATERS IS EXPECTED THROUGH THE END OF MAY AND POSSIBLY INTO JUNE. HIGHWAY 70 IS EXPECTED TO BE ONE OF THE STREETS TO FLOOD.

TWENTY-SIX FAMILIES HAVE MOVED INTO THE ENCLAVE IN SIMMESPORT, INFORMALLY KNOWN AS CANADAVILLE BECAUSE THEIR TOWNS WERE THREATENED BY FLOODING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND SMALLER RIVERS THAT SPRING FROM IT. THE HAVEN CREATED BY A CANADIAN INDUSTRIALIST HAD A ONETIME POPULATION OF AROUND 200 HURRICANE-DISPLACED RESIDENTS, BUT IT HAD DWINDLED TO JUST A HANDFUL BY THE TIME PEOPLE FROM NEARBY TOWNS BEGAN LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO WAIT OUT THE FLOOD.

THE RISING FLOOD WATERS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI AND IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN IS PUSHING WILDLIFE OUT OF THEIR NORMAL HABITATS TO HIGHER GROUND. KENNY RIBBECK, CHIEF OF WILDLIFE DIVISION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES ASK CURIOUS ONLOOKERS TO KEEP THEIR DISTANCE AND LET THE ANIMALS SEEK SANCTUARY. THE LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE TAKING PHOTOS ARE FORCING SOME ANIMALS BACK INTO THE WATER TO AVOID THE PEOPLE. EXPERTS SAY IN THE PROCESS THE ANIMALS ARE DYING OF EXHAUSTION. RIBBECK SAYS DISPLACED DEER ARE CROSSING ROADS AND HIGHWAYS IN SEARCH OF SHELTER CAUSING THE NUMBERS OF ACCIDENTS INVOLVING DEER TO RISE.

THOUGH THE MULTIBILLION DOLLAR PRICE TAGS WOULD CUT THE STATE'S GENERAL FUND INCOME NEARLY IN HALF, THE HOUSE TAX COMMITTEE BACKED TWO PROPOSALS MONDAY TO ELIMINATE LOUISIANA'S CORPORATE AND PERSONAL INCOME TAXES. THE MEASURES (HOUSE BILLS 633 AND 634) BY REP. HUNTER GREENE, R-BATON ROUGE, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, WOULD ELIMINATE $3.1 BILLION BY THE 2012-13 BUDGET YEAR AND NEARLY $15 BILLION OVER FIVE YEARS. THEY WOULD SLICE A LARGE CHUNK OUT OF THE STATE'S INCOME EACH YEAR AND WOULD FORCE HEFTY BUDGET CUTS IF THE DOLLARS WEREN'T REPLACED. BACKED 9-5 BY THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, THE BILLS AREN'T EXPECTED TO GAIN FINAL PASSAGE IN THE LEGISLATURE BECAUSE OF THEIR STEEP IMPACT ON STATE REVENUE. THE PROPOSALS HEAD NEXT TO THE FULL HOUSE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE WILL HEAR TWO BILLS TODAY REGARDING THE USE OF CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING. ONE BILL PROPOSES THE BANNING OF HANDHELD CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING ALL TOGETHER, THE OTHER WOULD MAKE IT A SECONDARY OFFENSE. HIGHWAY SAFETY ANALYST COL JIM CHAMPAGNE SAYS THE PASSING OF EITHER BILL WOULD BENEFIT OUR STATE.

A BILL CALLING FOR RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF 20% OF APPLICANTS FOR WELFARE CASH BENEFITS IS SCHEDULED FOR DEBATE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO, WHO SAYS HIS BILL'S INTENT IS TO HELP DRUG USERS GET HELP OR AT THE VERY LEAST, NOT HELP SUPPORT THEIR HABIT.
LABRUZZO DEFENDS THE PRICE TAG FOR HIS LEGISLATION. HE SAYS THE TOTAL COST CAN EASILY BE ABSORBED INTO THE BUDGET; EVEN IN THESE TOUGH FISCAL TIMES. THE BILL WOULD APPLY TO A RANDOMLY SELECTED 20% OF THOSE APPLYING FOR FAMILY INDEPENDENCE TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM; ABOUT $200 IN MONTHLY DEBIT CARD SPENDING.

THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO THE STATE BUDGET BILL, THAT CAPS THE SALARIES OF THE NEXT EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT AND OTHERS. THE AMENDMENTS WERE BROUGHT BY JEANERETTE REP. SIMONE CHAMPAGNE (SHOM-PINE). SHE SAYS TO REMEMBER THAT FORMER EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT PAUL PASTOREK WAS PAID OVER $377-THOUSAND A YEAR. CHAMPAGNE'S AMENDMENTS WOULD BRING THE NEXT EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT'S COMPENSATION MORE IN LINE WITH WHAT'S PAID IN NEIGHBORING STATES. CHAMPAGNE SAYS HER AMENDMENT WOULD LIMIT THAT SALARY TO ABOUT $195 THOUSAND A YEAR. THE COMMITTEE APPROVED CHAMPAGNE'S AMENDMENT, PLUS ONE THAT PLACES A SIMILAR PAY LIMIT ON THE HEAD OFF THE STATE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT.

A PROPOSAL TO CREATE A REDEMPTION SYSTEM FOR RECYCLABLE BEVERAGE CONTAINERS WAS REJECTED BY THE HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE AFTER FACING RESISTANCE FROM THE SOFT DRINK INDUSTRY, THE BEER INDUSTRY AND CONVENIENCE STORE OWNERS.
REP. EDDIE LAMBERT, R-GONZALES, SAID HE WAS TRYING TO ENCOURAGE RECYCLING WITH HIS BILL (HOUSE BILL 412), BECAUSE, HE WAS TIRED OF SEEING LITTER ALONG LOUISIANA'S ROADWAYS AND WATERWAYS. OPPONENTS SAID THE BILL WOULD PUT ADMINISTRATIVE AND REPORTING BURDENS ON BUSINESSES THAT SELL THE BOTTLED BEVERAGES AND WOULD CREATE A NEW BUREAUCRACY WITHIN THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY. THE COMMITTEE VOTED 14-3 AGAINST THE PROPOSAL, STALLING IT IN COMMITTEE.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE VOTED 13-1 AGAINST A PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 609) BY REP. HERBERT DIXON, D-ALEXANDRIA, TO INCREASE THE STATE INCOME TAX FOR MIDDLE- AND UPPER-INCOME RESIDENTS WHO ITEMIZE THEIR TAX DEDUCTIONS. IT WOULD HAVE RAISED $166 MILLION ANNUALLY FOR THE STATE BY CUTTING IN HALF THE EXCESS FEDERAL ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS LOUISIANIANS COULD DEDUCT ON STATE INCOME TAX FORMS AND WOULD HAVE DEDICATED THE MONEY TO HIGHER EDUCATION. AFTER THE VOTE, DIXON WAS QUOTED AS SAYING, "I GOT ONE VOTE. I THINK I NEED TO TAKE MY MARBLES AND GO HOME."

THE CONTROVERSIAL 70-CENT CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE HAS BEEN VOLUNTARILY DEFERRED BY THE AUTHOR OF THE BILL. THE MEASURE IS STILL ALIVE FOR THE SESSION, BUT BOGALUSA REPRESENTATIVE HAROLD RITCHIE WANTS TO WAIT UNTIL HE HAS VOTES TO PASS IT. A SEPARATE PROPOSAL TO RENEW A CURRENT FOUR-CENT TOBACCO TAX WAS APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE AND HEADS TO HOUSE FLOOR FOR FURTHER DEBATE. RENA THOMAS FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE GOVERNORS OFFICE STILL CONSIDERS THE RENEWAL A TAX INCREASE.

STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET SAYS A LONG-IDLED PLANT IN ASCENSION PARISH WILL RESTART, BRINGING HUNDREDS OF NEW JOBS AT GOOD PAY. MORET SAYS THE ORMET CORPORATION TOOK ADVANTAGE OF TAX INCENTIVES TO RE-OPEN THE ALUMINA PLANT. HE SAYS IT'S A BIG BOOST FOR ASCENSION AND THE WHOLE CAPITAL REGION. MORET SAYS ORMET IS MAKING A $21-MILLION INVESTMENT IN RESTARTING THE PLANT. IT WILL CREATE NEARLY 1300 DIRECT AND INDIRECT JOBS. HE SAYS THE PROJECT WILL RESULT IN $20-MILLION IN NEW STATE TAX REVENUE AND OVER $10-MILLION IN LOCAL TAX REVENUE OVER SEVERAL YEARS. MORET SAYS LED'S FAST START TRAINING PROGRAM WILL PLAY A KEY ROLE IN ASSURING ORMET HAS A TRAINED WORKFORCE IN PLACE. HE SAYS THE PLANT WILL REOPEN IN A MATTER OF MONTHS

THERE'S GONNA BE ANOTHER CASINO IN LOUISIANA THAT'S GOING TO BE CALLED L'AUBERGE. PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT SAYS THE CASINO AND HOTEL IT PLANS TO BUILD WILL BE CALLED L'AUBERGE CASINO & HOTEL BATON ROUGE.

 

News For Monday 051611


NEWS FOR MONDAY 051611
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

IN A CITY THAT IS STILL STRUGGLING TO BALANCE IT’S BUDGET COMES WORD TODAY IN THE TOWN TALK, THAT APPROXIMATELY ONE IN FIVE RESIDENTIAL UTILITY ACCOUNTS IN THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IS CARRYING AN AMOUNT THAT IS MORE THAN 30 DAYS PAST DUE.
A TOWN TALK INVESTIGATION INTO OVERDUE ACCOUNTS SHOWS THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN 3,500 RESIDENTIAL ACCOUNTS THAT CARRY LATE BALANCES AS WELL AS MORE THAN 160 OVERDUE COMMERCIAL ACCOUNTS. THAT BOILS DOWN TO $2.1 MILLION IN OVERDUE UTILITY BILLS.

AUTHORITIES OPENED SEVEN BAYS ON THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY ON SUNDAY AS PEOPLE ALREADY SURROUNDED BY WATER PRAYED FOR THE LEVEES TO HOLD WHILE OTHERS IN THE PATH OF THE SLOW-MOVING FLOOD PACKED THEIR POSSESSIONS. THE SPILLWAY IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH OPERATES AS A SAFETY VALVE BY DIVERTING WATER FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER NORTH OF BATON ROUGE TO THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN, WHERE IT THEN FLOWS INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THE SPILLWAY WAS OPENED IN NEARLY FOUR DECADES. LOW-LYING AREAS OF ST. LANDRY PARISH SOUTH OF U.S. HIGHWAY 190 HAVE BEEN PUT UNDER A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER. ABOUT 25,000 PEOPLE AND 11,000 STRUCTURES COULD BE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODING.

A HIGHWAY BRIDGE OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THAT WAS STRUCK BY TWO RUNAWAY BARGES HAS BEEN RE-OPENED AFTER INSPECTORS GAVE IT A SAFETY CHECK. THE U.S. HIGHWAY 190 BRIDGE AT BATON ROUGE WAS OPENED AROUND JUST A FEW HOURS AFTER THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON ACCIDENT. TWENTY-FIVE BARGES UNDER TOW ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BROKE LOOSE NORTH OF THE BRIDGE. WHAT CAUSED THE BARGES TO BREAK LOOSE WAS NOT CLEAR. COAST GUARD PETTY OFFICER CASEY RANEL SAID THEY ALL HAVE BEEN CONTAINED AND NO INJURIES WERE REPORTED.

RESIDENTS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WILL BE WATCHING FOR THE EXPECTED CREST AT GREENVILLE ON MONDAY, WHERE OFFICIALS ARE INSISTING THEY EXPECT THE EXTENSIVE LEVEE SYSTEM TO DO ITS JOB. THE RIVER WAS PROJECTED TO CREST AT 65 FEET IN GREENVILLE. DOWNRIVER, THE PROJECTED CRESTS ARE 57.5 FEET IN VICKSBURG ON THURSDAY AND 63.5 FEET IN NATCHEZ ON SATURDAY. ABOUT 180 NATIONAL GUARDSMEN ARE ASSISTING COUNTY AND STATE AGENCIES IN IN RIVER COUNTIES.

A LARGE CROWD, SEVERAL THOUSAND PEOPLE, WERE ON HAND SATURDAY FOR THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART'S FIRST LOUISIANA DRAGON BOAT RACES. THE RACE WAS A FUNDRAISER FOR THE MUSEUM AND WAS HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MUSEUM'S SECOND SATURDAY MARKET MUSEUM. THE TEAM FROM PREMIER ATHLETIC CLUB WON THE COMPETITION. C3, THE TEAM FROM CHRISTUS ST. FRANCES CABRINI HOSPITAL, TOOK SECOND PLACE AND HIXSON HEAT, REPRESENTING HIXSON AUTOPLEX, WON THIRD PLACE. SATURDAY'S EVENT HAD 33 TEAMS. TEAMS CONSISTED OF 20 PADDLERS, A DRUMMER AND A HELMSMAN. EACH PARTICIPANT PAID $100 TO ENTER.

TODAY IS THE FINAL DAY TO FILE YOUR LOUISIANA TAX RETURN. TARA CUNNINGHAM WITH THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SAYS MANY TAXPAYERS FILE THEIR STATE RETURN WITH THEIR FEDERAL RETURN, BUT IF YOU DIDN'T, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO FILE OR EXTEND. TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING AN EXTRA DAY SINCE THE 15TH FELL ON A SUNDAY.
CUNNINGHAM SAYS THERE IS A FREE FILING PROGRAM ONLINE AT WWW-DOT-REVENUE-DOT-LOUISIANA-DOT-GOV.

WHITE DEMOCRATS ARE EXPECTED TO DECIDE THE FATE OF A PROPOSAL UP FOR A VOTE IN THE HOUSE TO MERGE HISTORICALLY BLACK SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS WITH THE LARGELY WHITE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS. REPUBLICANS BACK THE CONSOLIDATION PROPOSAL PUSHED BY GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AND SPONSORED BY HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER, BOTH MEMBERS OF THE GOP, WHILE BLACK DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS OPPOSE IT. PASSAGE OF THE BILL REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS VOTE. TUCKER WILL NEED ALL 55 REPUBLICANS TO VOTE IN A BLOC AND WILL HAVE TO PICK UP 15 OTHER MEMBERS FROM AMONG DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS WHEN THE VOTE COMES UP TODAY. MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE'S BLACK CAUCUS SAY THEY ARE WORKING TO KEEP THEIR FELLOW DEMOCRATS WITH THEM.
THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IS SET TO HEAR DEBATE TODAY ON WHETHER OR NOT TO INCREASE LOUISIANA'S TAX ON TOBACCO BY 70 CENTS. REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN ROGER VILLERE SAYS RAISING THE TAX ON CIGARETTES IS NOT THE ANSWER TO THE STATE'S BUDGET ISSUES. HE SAYS LOUISIANA HAS A SPENDING PROBLEM NOT A REVENUE PROBLEM. VILLERE SAYS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS AGAINST THE RAISING OF ANY NEW TAXES. HE SAYS TOBACCO IS A PRODUCT THAT ISN'T SO BAD IT'S ILLEGAL. ANDREW MUHL WITH THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY SAYS THIS INCREASE IN TAXES HAS 73% PUBLIC SUPPORT. HE SAYS THIS IS NOT A TAX ISSUE IT'S A HEALTHCARE ISSUE..:

AFTER RESEARCHING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A FOUR-DAY SCHOOL WEEK, THE WEST CARROLL SCHOOL BOARD HAS DECIDED AGAINST A SHORTENED WEEK FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. SUPERINTENDENT KENT DAVIS TELLS THE NEWS-STAR OF MONROE THAT THE BOARD HAD BEEN CHECKING INTO THE IDEA TO SAVE MONEY, BUT HE BELIEVES ANY COST SAVINGS TO THE DISTRICT WOULD NOT OUTWEIGH THE DISADVANTAGES. DAVID SAYS THERE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN BIG TRANSPORTATION SAVINGS. AND THERE WERE WORRIES ABOUT STUDENT AND TEACHER BURNOUT WITH LONGER SCHOOL DAYS. IN NORTHEASTERN LOUISIANA, SCHOOLS IN BOTH CALDWELL AND UNION PARISHES HAVE ADOPTED A FOUR-DAY, TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, SCHOOL WEEK. UNION IS ENDING ITS FIRST YEAR WITH THE REDUCED WEEK.

AFTER 83 YEARS, OUR LADY OF BLESSED SACRAMENT ACADEMY, A CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN SHREVEPORT, IS GETTING READY TO CLOSE ITS DOORS MAY 27. SHREVEPORT BISHOP MICHAEL DUCA SAID THE DIOCESE CONCLUDED THE SCHOOL IN THE ALLENDALE COMMUNITY MUST BE CLOSED FOR FINANCIAL REASONS. THE SCHOOL, WHICH SERVES PRE-K3 THROUGH KINDERGARTEN, HAS A CURRENT ENROLLMENT OF 153 STUDENTS.

MONROE OFFICIALS HAVE GOTTEN SOME GOOD FISCAL NEWS: THE CITY ENDED THE 2010-2011 FISCAL YEAR WITH A SURPLUS. THE EXACT AMOUNT OF THE SURPLUS WILL NOT BE DETERMINED UNTIL A FINAL AUDIT IS CONDUCTED IN THE FALL, BUT DAVID BARNES, DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION FOR THE CITY, SAYS IT'S ESTIMATED THAT IT WILL FALL BETWEEN $50,000 AND $250,000. MONROE'S FISCAL YEAR ENDED APRIL 30.




News For Friday May 13th..


NEWS FOR FRIDAY 051311 (FRIDAY THE 13TH)
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

SOME BOAT LAUNCHES ON THE RED RIVER ARE REOPENING BECAUSE THE RIVER LEVEL HAS BEGUN TO FALL, THE RED RIVER WATERWAY COMMISSION ANNOUNCED TODAY, MAY 12.
THE REOPENED RAMPS INCLUDE THOSE LOCATED IN THE PARISHES OF RAPIDES, COUSHATTA, NATCHITOCHES AND GRANT. THE EXCEPTION, THE COLFAX RECREATION AREA AND BOAT RAMPS LOCATED IN AVOYELLES, CADDO AND BOSSIER PARISHES. THEY REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS EFFORTS TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES FROM SEVERE FLOODING FROM THE RISING MISSISSIPPI RIVER ARE GOING ON 'ROUND THE CLOCK. THE GOVERNOR
INSPECTED FLOOD FORTIFICATIONS UNDERWAY IN AND AROUND MORGAN CITY THURSDAY. HE SAYS NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ARE WORKING DILIGENTLY ON MILES OF LEVEE. HE SAYS DOZENS OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEE PROBLEM SPOTS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED, AND CREWS ARE SHORING THEM UP AS WELL. THE GOVERNOR SAYS IT'S STILL UNCLEAR IF, OR WHEN, THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY MAY BE OPENED. THE BIG FEAR IS WATER MAY OVER TOP THAT FACILITY AT ANY TIME.

THERE HAS BEEN AN OVERTOPPING OF A SECONDARY LEVEE IN NORTHEAST LOUISIANA. 5TH LOUISIANA LEVEE DISTRICT PRESIDENT REYNOLD MINSKY SAYS RISING RIVER WATER IS FLOWING OVER A RING LEVEE PROTECTING FARMLAND IN EAST CARROLL PARISH. AND THAT THEY EXPECTED THIS TO HAPPEN. THE 18-MILE LEVEE, BUILT IN 1912, IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT, IT HAS NEVER BEEN OVERTOPPED BEFORE.

CONRAD INDUSTRIES HAS CLOSED ITS MORGAN CITY SHIPYARD ON THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. THE SHIPYARD IS OUTSIDE OF THE PROTECTIVE LEVEES. THE COMPANY HAS ALREADY MOVED SOME VESSELS UNDER CONSTRUCTION, ABOUT 200 EMPLOYEES, CONTRACT WORKERS AND MAJOR EQUIPMENT TO ITS TWO SHIPYARDS AT AMELIA ALONG THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY. CONRAD BUILDS TUGBOATS, OFFSHORE SUPPLY BOATS AND OTHER VESSELS, MANY EMPLOYED BY THE OFFSHORE OIL INDUSTRY.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES IS WARNING RESIDENTS TO BE AWARE OF WILD ANIMALS THAT MIGHT BE DISPLACED AS A RESULT OF THE RISING MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND THE LIKELY OPENING OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES BIOLOGIST SCOTT LONGMAN URGES THE PUBLIC TO AVOID AREAS WHERE WILDLIFE ARE SEEKING REFUGE. LONGMAN SAYS DEER, BLACK BEARS, RABBITS AND EVEN SMALLER ANIMALS LIKE SNAKES WILL BE SEARCHING FOR HIGHER GROUND ONCE THEIR NATURAL HABITAT IS FLOODED.

THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION IS SEARCH FOR A NEW SUPERINTENDENT AND THE HEAD OF THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT'S NAME HAS BEEN PUT FORWARD FOR THE JOB. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SUPPORTS JOHN WHITE TO BE INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT. COUNCIL FOR A BETTER LOUISIANA PRESIDENT BARRY ERWIN SAYS LIKE PAUL PASTOREK, WHITE HAS EARNED A NATIONAL REPUTATION AS AN EDUCATION REFORMER. ERWIN SAYS THAT THE STATE NEEDS THE SAME TYPE OF REFORMS AS IN THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT.

HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS HE DISAGREES WITH THE POSSIBLE APPOINTMENT OF WHITE TO BECOME INTERIM STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION., SAYING WHITE'S CURRENT JOB, RUNNING THE RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT REQUIRES HIS FULL ATTENTION. THE SPEAKER'S COMMENTS CAME A DAY AFTER GOVERNOR JINDAL'S CHIEF COUNSEL RECOMMENDED WHITE TO FILL THE SUPERINTENDENT'S JOB THAT BECAME VACANT WHEN PAUL PASTOREK RESIGNED TO TAKE A JOB WITH A DEFENSE CONTRACTOR. IF HE'S CHOSE WHITE WOULD LIKELY HOLD BOTH TITLES FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR UNTIL A
PERMANENT SUPERINTENDENT IS CHOSEN IN JANUARY. THE FINAL DECISION WILL BE MADE BY THE STATE BOARD OF SECONDARY AND ELEMENTARY EDUCATION BUT THE GOVERNOR'S RECOMMENDATION IS EXPECTED TO HOLD.

THE HEAD OF THE LEGISLATURE'S BLACK CAUCUS SAYS GOVERNOR JINDAL IS TRYING TO SLOW THE REDRAWING OF STATE EDUCATION BOARD DISTRICTS IN A BID TO PERSUADE BOARD MEMBERS TO SIDE WITH HIS CHOICE FOR INTERIM EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT. BATON ROUGE REP. PATRICIA SMITH SAYS ANY MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION WHO FEEL PRESSURED SHOULD CALL THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WHICH OVERSEES THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS IN LOUISIANA. SMITH IS DISPLEASED WITH JINDAL'S PICK TO BE INTERIM EDUCATION
SUPERINTENDENT: JOHN WHITE, THE 35-YEAR-OLD, NEWLY HIRED LEADER OF THE STATE-RUN RECOVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT. CRITICS OF THE SELECTION SAY WHITE HAS TOO LITTLE EDUCATION EXPERIENCE.

LEGISLATION REQUIRING ABORTION CLINICS IN LOUISIANA TO POST SIGNS INFORMING PATIENTS OF THEIR RIGHTS HAS UNANIMOUSLY PASSED THE HOUSE AND IS HEADED FOR THE SENATE. WEST MONROE REPRESENTATIVE FRANK HOFFMAN SAYS THE SIGNS WILL ALSO INFORM PATIENTS THERE ARE MANY PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AGENCIES WILLING TO HELP WOMEN CARRY THEIR UNBORN CHILD TO TERM AND TO ASSIST AFTER THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD. HE SAYS THE SIGN ALSO SAYS THE FATHER CAN NOT FORCE WOMEN TO HAVE AN ABORTION.

THE APPROACHING RECORD FLOOD IS CAUSING THOUSANDS TO CONSIDER GETTING FLOOD INSURANCE ON THEIR HOMES AND PROPERTY. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER FLOOD DAMAGE AND TOO FEW LOUISIANA HOUSEHOLDS ARE COVERED UNDER THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM. DONELON SAYS 25-PERCENT OF FLOOD INSURANCE CLAIMS PAID LAST YEAR
WERE IN AREAS DEEMED TO BE ON HIGH GROUND THAT WAS CONSIDERED SAFE FROM FLOODING.

THE STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY SAYS IT'S LAUNCHING AN ANTI-TOBACCO TAX AD FRIDAY ON RADIO STATIONS AROUND LOUISIANA. ACCORDING TO A SCRIPT RELEASED BY THE GOP, FORMER U.S. REP. BOB LIVINGSTON NARRATES THE 30-SECOND AD, WHICH URGES PEOPLE TO CALL THEIR LAWMAKERS AND TELL THEM TO VOTE AGAINST A PROPOSAL TO RAISE THE STATE CIGARETTE TAX. LIVINGSTON CALLS THE $120 MILLION TAX MEASURE "FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE" AND A THREAT TO LOUISIANA'S SMALL BUSINESSES. SUPPORTERS CALL IT A BID TO IMPROVE PEOPLE'S HEALTH BY DISCOURAGING SMOKING, WHILE ALSO RAISING STATE REVENUE. THE PROPOSAL BY DEMOCRATIC REP. HAROLD RITCHIE, OF BOGALUSA, WOULD RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX FROM 36 CENTS PER PACK TO $1.06. IT FACES SIGNIFICANT OPPOSITION AMONG HOUSE LEADERS AND ISN'T EXPECTED TO GET THE TWO-THIRDS SUPPORT NEEDED TO PASS THE LEGISLATURE.

THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE MAY SLASH UP TO $160 MILLION OR MORE FROM NEXT YEAR'S SPENDING PLANS, TO CUT DOLLARS THE GOVERNOR INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET THAT ARE TIED TO THE PASSAGE OF OTHER LEGISLATION THAT HAS YET TO WIN APPROVAL FROM LAWMAKERS. HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER SAYS HOUSE LEADERS DON'T BELIEVE IT'S CONSTITUTIONAL OR APPROPRIATE TO BUDGET BASED ON THOSE TYPES OF UNCERTAIN FINANCING SOURCES. WHEN IT WORKS ON THE BUDGET NEXT WEEK, THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE INTENDS TO CUT DOLLARS GOV. BOBBY JINDAL INCLUDED IN THE 2011-12 SPENDING PLAN THAT ARE DEPENDENT ON PRISON SALES AND THE PASSAGE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE TO FUND TOPS, THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM. "IT MAY MEAN ADDITIONAL CUTS IN SOME AREAS," TUCKER TOLD REPORTERS.
THOSE CUTS COULD FALL HEAVIEST ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES, THE TWO AREAS OF THE BUDGET LEAST PROTECTED FROM REDUCTIONS. LAWMAKERS ARE EXPECTED TO RESHUFFLE ANY CUTS AWAY FROM THE POPULAR TOPS PROGRAM AND KEEP THAT FULLY FUNDED. ANY REDUCTIONS MAY NOT STAY IN THE BUDGET BILL FOR VERY LONG, HOWEVER. IF STATE INCOME ESTIMATES IMPROVE, THAT COULD GIVE LAWMAKERS ADDITIONAL REVENUE TO PLUG INTO GAPS.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY FOR OFFSHORE WORKERS SUFFERING FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS BECAUSE OF THE FEDERAL DEEPWATER DRILLING MORATORIUM TO APPLY FOR A SECOND ROUND OF ASSISTANCE GRANTS THROUGH THE GULF COAST RESTORATION AND PROTECTION FOUNDATION. THE GRANT PROGRAM COVERS ANYONE WHO WAS WORKING ON OR IN SUPPORT OF ONE OF THE DEEPWATER RIGS THAT WAS SUBJECT TO THE MORATORIUM AS OF MAY 6TH, 2010. THE AMOUNT OF THE GRANTS WILL RUN FROM 3-THOUSAND TO 30-THOUSAND DOLLARS.

TANGIPAHOA PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES SAY THE BODY UNEARTHED FROM A SHALLOW GRAVE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS 82-YEAR-OLD LEON RACHAL OF PONCHATOULA. DEPUTIES SAY RACHAL WAS REPORTED MISSING ON JANUARY 22ND, AFTER LAST BEING SEEN BY FAMILY MEMBERS ON JANUARY 19TH. TWO DAYS AFTER RACHAL WAS REPORTED MISSING, DETECTIVES ARRESTED 32-YEAR-OLD WESLEY E. SMITH OF HAMMOND FOR ALLEGEDLY BURGLARIZING RACHAL'S HOME.




News For Thursday 05/12/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 051211
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AN ARTICLE IN TODAY’S TOWN TALK REPORTS, UNLESS A CITY BUDGET IS APPROVED SOON, THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WILL IMPLEMENT A "SIX-WEEK REDUCTION PLAN" THAT BEGINS WITH CLOSING PARKS AND COMMUNITY CENTERS AND RESULTS IN MASSIVE LAYOFFS OF CITY WORKERS. A BUDGET MEETING HELD EARLIER THIS WEEK BETWEEN ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY AND THE CITY COUNCIL'S LEADERSHIP TEAM WAS HAILED AS TREMENDOUS PROGRESS, BUT STILL NO BUDGET HAS BEEN FINALIZED. BECAUSE THE ADMINISTRATION AND COUNCIL COULDN'T COME TO TERMS ON A 2011-12 BUDGET BEFORE THE FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON MAY 1, THE CITY IS OPERATING UNDER A BUDGET USING 50 PERCENT OF LAST YEAR'S REVENUE. IF A NEW BUDGET ISN'T PASSED SOON, THE CITY WILL BE FORCED TO MAKE CUTS TO LIVE WITHIN THAT GREATLY REDUCED INTERIM BUDGET.

IN PINEVILLE, THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINS ON JULY 1ST. MAYOR CLARENCE FIELDS SAID HE AND HIS STAFF MEMBERS RECENTLY FINISHED MEETING WITH ALL 19 CITY DEPARTMENTS AND COMPLETED THE CITY'S PRELIMINARY BUDGET PROCESS ON MAY 2. ACCORDING TO THE MAYOR, FINANCE DIRECTOR MARK ROBERTS AND SOME OF THE STAFF MEMBERS ARE WORKING TO PUT TOGETHER A PRESENTATION FOR THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. THAT MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 7TH.

IT WAS A TERRIBLE WAY TO GO, 28 YEAR OLD KRISTAL MITCHELL OF BOYCE WAS KILLED EARLY YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WHEN HER VEHICLE LEFT HIGHWAY 112, STRUCK A TREE AND BURST INTO FLAMES. AUTHORITIES SAY MITCHELL WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

ANOTHER DOCKSIDE CASINO AT VICKSBURG HAS BEEN CLOSED IN THE FACE OF RISING WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. MISSISSIPPI GAMING COMMISSION DEPUTY DIRECTOR ALLEN GODFREY SAID WEDNESDAY THAT THE COMMISSION ORDERED THE RAINBOW CASINO TO CLOSE IMMEDIATELY. ON MONDAY, REGULATORS SHUTTERED THE DIAMOND JACK CASINO. GODFREY SAID AUTHORITIES ARE MONITORING THE RIVER AS TWO CASINOS AT VICKSBURG STILL REMAIN OPEN. VICKSBURG HAS A FIFTH CASINO, BUT IT HAS BEEN CLOSED FOR SOME TIME FOR REMODELING. SEVENTEEN OF THE 19 CASINOS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER HAVE BEEN CLOSED BECAUSE OF FLOODING. THE CASINOS BRING GOVERNMENTS ABOUT $12 MILLION TO $13 MILLION IN GAMBLING TAXES PER MONTH AND EMPLOY ABOUT 13,000 WORKERS.

SATURDAY COULD BE DAY THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS DECIDES WHEN TO OPEN THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. LT. COL. MARK JERNIGAN SAID WEDNESDAY THAT IF THE FLOW RATE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER CONTINUES TO CLIMB AS EXPECTED, IT SHOULD REACH THE 1.5 MILLION CUBIC FEET PER SECOND RATE AT RED RIVER LANDING THAT THE CORPS HAS SET AS THE LEVEL THAT WOULD "TRIGGER" OPENING THE FLOODGATES.

AS THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER KEEPS RISING, GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS CLOSER TO OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH, TO LESSEN STRESS ON LEVEES. MR. JINDAL SAYS OPENING THE MORGANZA WILL MEAN VAST FLOODING IN RURAL AREAS, SO THE CORPS' COMMANDING GENERAL WON'T MAKE THAT CHOICE LIGHTLY. ENTERGY SAYS IT WILL HAVE TO CUT POWER TO ABOUT 3600 CUSTOMERS IN THE PATH OF RISING WATER, IF THE SPILLWAY IS OPENED.

WORK BEGAN WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON ON A LEVEE TO PROTECT THE SOUTHERN PART OF KROTZ SPRINGS, WHICH IS NOT CONTAINED WITHIN THE TOWN'S RING LEVEE. THE LEVEE, WHICH WILL INCORPORATE RECYCLED ASPHALT AND OTHER MATERIALS, REPLACES ONE THAT HAD BEEN BUILT DURING THE 1973 FLOOD, BUT HAD DETERIORATED OVER TIME.
MAYOR CARROL SNYDER SAYS THE GOAL IS TO REACH 28 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. THE LEVEE WILL BE ABOUT 4 FEET HIGH IN SOME AREAS AND UP TO 10 FEET HIGH IN OTHERS, TO ACHIEVE THAT.

21 YEAR OLD DANNIE LEE LAFLEUR JR OF VILLE PLATTE HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR THE MAY 6TH MURDER OF TUC-DO, DURING AN ARMED ROBBERY OF T.A.T. NAIL SALON ON WEST MAIN STREET, VILLE PLATTE. LAFLEUR WAS CHARGED WITH FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND ARMED ROBBERY.

ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER OIL AND GAS REFINERIES ARE PREPARING FOR THE WORST. CHRIS JOHN IS PRESIDENT OF MID CONTINENT OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION. HE SAYS RISING WATERS ARE A GROWING CONCERN FOR APPROXIMATELY TEN REFINERIES ALONG THE RIVER. JOHN SAYS THEY ARE MONITORING THE IMPACT ON REFINERIES CLOSELY SHOULD THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY OPEN. HE SAYS ROUGHLY ABOUT 15% OF THE REFINING CAPACITY IN THE COUNTRY IS ALONG THAT CORRIDOR OF THE RIVER.

THE NUMBER OF LOUISIANA HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE IS ON THE RISE.
IRVINE, CALIF.-BASED REALTYTRAC SAYS THAT IN APRIL, FORECLOSURE-RELATED ACTIONS WERE TAKEN AGAINST 2,289 PROPERTIES. THOSE ACTIONS RANGED FROM AN INITIAL NOTICE OF DEFAULT TO OUTRIGHT REPOSSESSION BY A LENDER. LAST MONTH, 1,349 HOUSING UNITS WERE SCHEDULED FOR A FORECLOSURE SALE. LENDERS TOOK BACK 635. THE RATE OF FORECLOSURE ACTIONS, AFFECTING ONE IN EVERY 858 HOUSING UNITS, WAS UP 11.8 PERCENT FROM MARCH AND 23.8 PERCENT FROM APRIL 2010. THAT RANKED LOUISIANA 22ND IN THE NATION. REALTYTRAC SAID THAT NATIONAL FORECLOSURE ACTIONS DROPPED 9 PERCENT FROM MARCH AND 34 PERCENT FROM APRIL 2010 — MOSTLY BECAUSE OF LEGAL QUESTIONS ABOUT PAPERWORK.

THE U.S. HOUSE HAS PASSED LEGISLATION TO END THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S BLOCKAGE OF OFFSHORE DRILLING IN THE GULF. THE BILL IS CO-SPONSORED BY LAFAYETTE CONGRESSMAN CHARLES BOUSTANY WHO SAYS THE BILL WOULD MANDATE THAT THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT EITHER APPROVE OR DENY A DRILLING PERMIT WITHIN 30 DAYS OF APPLICATION. THE "PUTTING THE GULF BACK TO WORK ACT" IS PART OF PACKAGE OF REPUBLICAN-AUTHORED LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO LOWER GAS PRICES, CREATE JOBS AND INCREASE AMERICA'S ENERGY PRODUCTION. IT MOVES NOW TO THE U.S. SENATE. THE BILL ALSO ADDRESSES RIG SAFETY CONCERNS--REQUIRING SAFETY INSPECTIONS BY THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT.

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE WANTS GOVERNOR JINDAL TO APPEAR BEFORE HIS COMMITTEE AND EXPLAIN WHY HE HASN'T APPOINTED MORE WOMEN AND MINORITIES TO STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS. RUSTON REPRESENTATIVE RICK GALLOT, WHO IS BLACK, MADE THE REQUEST AS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE FORCED MORE MINORITIES ON BOARDS WAS DEBATED. THE LEGISLATION TO FORCE MORE DIVERSITY ON STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS FAILED TO PASS OUT OF THE HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE.

A PLANNED U-S FLAG BURNING DEMONSTRATION YESTERDAY AT LSU WAS THWARTED BY HUNDREDS OF ANGRY STUDENT. STUDENT ACTIVIST BENJAMIN HAAS FOUND HIMSELF SURROUNDED BY A LOUD MOB, THROWING THINGS AT HIM. HAAS REPORTEDLY GOT PERMISSION FROM LSU FOR THE PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF ANOTHER LSU STUDENT, WHO WAS ARRESTED LAST WEEK FOR CUTTING DOWN AN AMERICAN FLAG ON CAMPUS AND
BURNING IT. BUT, FAILED TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE TO BURN THE FLAG. CAN YOU SAY ARRESTED…

RISING WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS HAVING A SEVERE IMPACT ON COMMERCE MOVING THROUGH LOUISIANA'S PORTS. JOE ACCARDO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PORT ASSOCIATION OF LOUISIANA SAYS THAT EVEN WHEN THE WATER RECEDES THE FRESH SILT IN THE SHIPPING CHANNELS WILL NEED DREDGING.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE APPROVED A BILL BY METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LABRUZZO CALLING FOR THE RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF SOME WELFARE RECIPIENTS. STATE OFFICE OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH MEDICAL DIRECTOR ROCHELLE HEAD DUNHAM TESTIFIED THAT LABRUZZO'S BILL IS REDUNDANT AND QUESTIONED WHETHER IT WAS A GOOD USE OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS. SHE SAYS THERE'S A DRUG SCREENING PROGRAM ALREADY IN PLACE TO IDENTIFY THOSE WELFARE APPLICANTS WHO MIGHT HAVE DRUG PROBLEMS.

ANOTHER HOUSE PANEL, APPROVED A BILL THAT WOULD PUT AN EMERGENCY BAN ON THE SALE OF BATH SALTS INTO LOUISIANA LAW. TERRYTOWN REPRESENTATIVE RICKY TEMPLET'S LEGISLATION ALSO BROADENS AN EXISTING LAW THAT PROHIBITS ADDITIONAL CHEMICALS TO BE USED TO MAKE SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA

THE RESIGNATION OF STATE EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT PAUL PASTOREK HAS SET A NUMBER OF CHANGES IN MOTION. PASTOREK'S LAST DAY IS FRIDAY. DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT OLLIE TAYLOR WILL TAKE OVER AS INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT. BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PRESIDENT PENNY DASTUGUE SAYS TAYLOR WILL HANDLE THE DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT UNTIL BESE NAMES PASTOREK'S SUCCESSOR.

BANCORPSOUTH INC. SAID TUESDAY THAT IT WILL CLOSE 23 BANK BRANCHES IN SIX STATES THIS SUMMER AS PART OF A PLAN TO CONSOLIDATE OPERATIONS. THE BRANCHES HAVEN'T SEEN ENOUGH GROWTH TO COVER THEIR OPERATING EXPENSES, THE COMPANY SAID. THE CONSOLIDATION PLAN IS PART OF BANCORPSOUTH'S INITIATIVE TO STREAMLINE ITS BRANCH BANKING OPERATIONS AND IMPROVE PRODUCTION.


News For Wednesday 05/11/11


NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 051111
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

A MAJOR FUNDRAISING EVENT SCHEDULED FOR THIS WEEKEND WILL TAKE PLACE ON THE RED RIVER IN ALEXANDRIA DESPITE THE FACT THE RIVER IS HIGH AND MOVING FAST. OFFICIALS WITH THE ALEXANDRIA MUSEUM OF ART, HAVE ELECTED NOT TO POSTPONE OR MOVE THE DRAGON BOAT RACES FROM THE RIVER. THE LATTER OF WHICH WAS SUGGESTED BY THE WATERWAY COMMISSION. CATHERINE PEARS, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MUSEUM SAYS THEY ARE TAKING EVERY PRECAUTION AND THE EVENT IS ON.

TWO COUSINS FROM LECOMPTE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES AFTER A FISHING TRIP TURNED DEADLY ON BAYOU BOEUF MONDAY NIGHT. AN OFFICIAL WITH THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT IDENTIFIED THE VICTIMS AS 15-YEAR-OLD JORDAN WAGNER AND 20-YEAR-OLD CHRISTEFER TURAL JOSEPH.

STATE REP. CHRIS HAZEL HAS ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY FOR RE-ELECTION TO HIS HOUSE DISTRICT 27 SEAT. HAZEL, A REPUBLICAN FROM BALL, WAS FIRST ELECTED IN 2007 TO THE DISTRICT WHICH INCLUDES PINEVILLE, BALL, TIOGA, RUBY, KOLIN, HOLLOWAY, DEVILLE, POLAND, CHENEYVILLE AND NEIGHBORING AREAS.

ALL EYES ARE ON THE RISING MISSISSIPPI AS TOWNS AND CITIES ALONG THE RIVER PREPARE FOR A RECORD FLOOD. VIDALIA MAYOR HYRAM COPELAND IS OVERSEEING PREPARATIONS THERE. THE WORST FLOOD TO HIT VIDALIA WAS IN 1938 WHEN THE RIVER CRESTED AT 58.4 FEET. THIS YEAR'S CREST IS EXPECTED TO HIT 64 FEET. COPELAND SAYS HE'S CONFIDENT THE TEMPORARY LEVEE SYSTEM WILL HOLD TO PROTECT THE CITY'S RIVERFRONT HOSPITAL, CONVENTION CENTER AND HOTEL.

WITH ALL ATTENTION ON THE RISING MISSISSIPPI RIVER, HOW SAFE ARE THE STATE'S TWO RIVERSIDE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS? THE RIVERBEND FACILITY IS ON THE RIVER NEAR ST. FRANCISVILLE, AND THE WATERFORD 3 PLANT IS ON THE RIVER BANKS NEAR TAFT. ENTERGY SPOKESPERSON MOLLY JAHNCKE (JANG-KEY) SAYS NEITHER ARE UNDER THREAT OF HIGH WATER.

ENTERGY SAYS STORM DAMAGE IN ARKANSAS, COMBINED WITH HIGH-WATER ON THE MISSISSIPPI AND AN EARLY DOSE OF HOT WEATHER ARE PUTTING A STRAIN ON ITS ELECTRICITY SYSTEM. SO FAR, ENTERGY SAYS ITS 2.7 MILLION CUSTOMERS IN LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ARKANSAS AND TEXAS ARE IN NO DANGER OF SEEING POWER CUTS OR BLACKOUTS. ENTERGY SAYS IT IS CUTTING BACK POWER TO SOME INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMERS COVERED BY SPECIAL CONTRACTS THAT ALLOW ENTERGY TO CUT BACK THEIR USAGE DURING SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE STATE IS MAKING FLOOD PREPARATIONS WITH HASTE AND HE URGES CITIZENS TO MAKE THEIR EVACUATION PLANS NOW. MR. JINDAL SAYS ROUGHLY 3-MILLION ACRES OF THE STATE WILL TAKE ON WATER. HE SAYS SOME 18-THOUSAND CROP ACRES IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN ARE UNDER THREAT. JINDAL SAYS--ACCORDING TO PROJECTIONS MADE BY COMBINING CENSUS DATA WITH 1973 INUNDATION MAPS--THAT OVER 22-THOUSAND PEOPLE AND 11-THOUSAND STRUCTURES COULD BE THREATENED BY BACKWATER FLOODING. HE SAYS MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOW ESTIMATES ARE LEADING TO OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY--WHICH WOULD TRIGGER THE FLOODING.

AS THE OLD EXPRESSION GOES, EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING.. WORD IS, THE OPENING OF THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY COULD BE A BOON FOR CRAWFISHERMEN IN THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN. CRAWFISH FARMER'S ASSOCIATION DIRECTOR STEPHEN MINVIELLE SAYS RIVER WATER RICH WITH NUTRIENTS AND SEDIMENT CAUSE CRAWFISH TO BOOM. HE SAYS THAT'S JUST WHAT THE INDUSTRY NEEDS RIGHT NOW.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION PAUL PASTOREK GIVES A TEARFUL GOODBYE AS HE ANNOUNCES HIS RESIGNATION. PASTOREK HAS BEEN THE STATE'S PUBLIC SCHOOL LEADER SINCE 2007. PASTOREK IS LEAVING SO HE CAN WORK FOR LONGTIME FRIEND SEAN O' KEEFE AT AN AEROSPACE COMPANY IN WASHINGTON. PASTOREK HAS RECEIVED NATIONAL PRAISE FOR IMPROVING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION IN NEW ORLEANS FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA. BUT, PASTOREK HAS ALSO BEEN CRITICIZED BY LOCAL EDUCATION LEADERS AND TEACHER UNIONS. SOME HAVE ACCUSED HIM OF TRYING TO DISMANTLE PUBLIC EDUCATION.

TODAY, THE HOUSE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF PEOPLE RECEIVING CASH BENEFITS FROM THE STATE. THE BILL'S AUTHOR, METAIRIE REP. JOHN LABRUZZO LAYS OUT THE PROCESS. LABRUZZO'S BILL WAS DERAILED LAST YEAR ON A PROCEDURAL MOVE IN THE SENATE. HE SAYS THIS YEAR HIS BILL HAS BROADER SUPPORT, INCLUDING ALLIES IN THE SENATE. LABRUZZO EXPRESSED SOME FRUSTRATION THAT LOUISIANA MISSED OUT ON AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD THE NATION WITH THIS TYPE OF LEGISLATION.

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD CONSTITUTIONALLY DEDICATE MORE MONEY FOR THE TOPS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM BY USING MONEY FROM THE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT IS MOVING ALONG IN THE LEGISLATURE. ONE DAY AFTER THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE APPROVED THE MEASURE THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE ALSO SUPPORTED THE PROPOSAL. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL IS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE MEASURE. THOSE WHO OPPOSE, SAY THEY WOULD RATHER SEE MORE MONEY DEDICATED TO HEALTH CARE OR EARLY EDUCATION.

REPUBLICAN STATE REP HOLLIS DOWNS HAS WITHDRAWN HIS LEGISLATION TO CREATE RENEWABLE SOURCES OF REVENUES TO PAY FOR HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS ACROSS THE STATE--WITH LITTLE OR NO VOCAL SUPPORT FROM HIS COLLEAGUES. DOWNS SAYS HE DIDN'T HAVE THE SUPPORT OF JINDAL NOR OTHER REPRESENTATIVES WHO SAID THEY FEARED THE LEGISLATION WOULD HAVE TRIPLED THE COST OF REGISTRATION OF PRIVATE CARS AND TRUCKS.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES RECEIVED A "D" GRADE FOR THE WAY IT POLICED PROGRAMS UNDER ITS JURISDICTION IN THE LAST FISCAL YEAR, ACCORDING TO A LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR'S REPORT RELEASED MONDAY. THE REPORT CITED NINE AREAS, IN WHICH AUDITORS FOUND POOR FINANCIAL CONTROLS IN THE AGENCY THAT OVERSEES NUTRITION, CHILD CARE, FOOD STAMP, AND TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AS WELL AS A FAILURE TO ADHERE TO SOME FEDERAL PROGRAM GUIDELINES. THE DEFICIENCIES LED TO THE ILLEGAL RECEIPT OF BENEFITS BY SOME EMPLOYEES, THEIR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS AND THE POTENTIAL FOR HAVING TO REPAY SOME MONEY. SINCE THE AUDIT YEAR, THE AGENCY HAS BEEN REORGANIZED AND RENAMED AS THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES.

News For Tuesday 05/10/11


NEWS FOR TUESDAY 051011
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE IN AN EFFORT TO SETTLE A STALEMATE THAT HAS HELD UP PASSAGE OF A NEW BUDGET FOR THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA. ALL INVOLVED PARTIES MEET YESTERDAY. AFTER THE MEETING MAYOR JACQUES ROY SAID HE AND THE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP AGREED ON "A LOT OF SIGNIFICANT COMPROMISE" IN THE MEETING, ALTHOUGH THERE REMAIN AREAS WHERE THE TWO SIDES AREN'T IN AGREEMENT. THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR BEGAN ON THE FIRST OF THIS MONTH AND WITH NO NEW BUDGET IN PLACE, THE CITY HAS BEEN FORCED TO OPERATE ON A TEMPORARY BUDGET THAT WILL USE HALF OF LAST YEAR'S EXPENSES.

A HABITUAL OFFENDER WILL MOST LIKELY SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE BEHIND BARS. 33 YEAR OLD CAROL WAYNE CROOKS JR WAS CONVICTED IN JUNE 2010 ON TWO-COUNTS OF SECOND-DEGREE KIDNAPPING, TWO COUNTS OF FALSE IMPRISONMENT WITH A WEAPON, ONE COUNT OF AGGRAVATED BURGLARY, ONE COUNT OF ARMED ROBBERY AND ONE COUNT OF POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY A FELON. IN AUGUST OF LAST YEAR JUDGE THOMAS YEAGER FOUND CROOKS TO BE A THIRD-FELONY OFFENDER AND SENTENCED HIM TO 66 YEARS IN PRISON AT HARD LABOR. YESTERDAY AN APPELLATE COURT HAS UPHELD THAT SENTENCE.

THE IMPENDING OPENING OF THE MORGANZA HOLDS DIRE CONSEQUENCES FOR FARMERS IN THE PATH TO THE WATER. COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE MIKE STRAIN SAYS LOUISIANA CAN EXPECT TO HAVE BETWEEN 50-THOUSAND TO 100- THOUSAND FARMING ACRES IMPACTED BY THE FLOOD. SOME OF THE CROP DAMAGE WILL COME DIRECTLY FROM THE RELEASE OF WATER INTO THE SPILLWAY. SOME AREAS WILL SEE BACKWATER FLOODING AS THE RISING RIVER BLOCKS TRIBUTARIES. STRAIN SAYS THEY ARE TAKING EARLY STEPS TO SECURE ASSISTANCE FOR FARMERS THROUGH A NUMBER OF STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JIM DONELON SAYS PROPERTY OWNERS THAT ARE IN THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM ARE COVERED FOR POSSIBLE LOSSES FROM OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY. THE SPILLWAY WILL LIKELY OPEN SOMETIME BETWEEN THIS SATURDAY AND NEXT TUESDAY. DONELON SAYS FLOODING IS POSSIBLE IN 7 PARISHES.
DONELON SAYS, FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE, IT'S NOW TOO LATE TO ENROLL IN THE NFIP AND BE COVERED FOR THIS IMPENDING EVENT. DONELON SAYS FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE IS COST EFFECTIVE, AND ONE'S ONLY RECOURSE FOR RECOVERING FLOOD LOSSES. MOST HOMEOWNERS' POLICIES DO NOT COVER FLOOD.

EVEN WITH THE THREAT OF FLOODING FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, MOST OF THE STATE IS STILL IN CONDITIONS OF DROUGHT. STATE CLIMATOLOGIST BARRY KEIM SAYS THE SWELLING RIVER IS THE RESULT OF TORRENTIAL RAINS THAT FELL FAR NORTH OF LOUISIANA. HOWEVER, HE SAYS, OUR STATE HAS HAD FAR TOO LITTLE RAINFALL.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL'S PUSH TO DEDICATE A STREAM OF TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FUNDING TO HELP COVER COSTS FOR THE STATE'S FREE COLLEGE TUITION PROGRAM KNOWN AS TOPS WON APPROVAL MONDAY FROM THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, DESPITE COMPLAINTS THE MEASURE WOULD STRIP FUTURE DOLLARS FOR HEALTH SERVICES. THE 6-2 VOTE SENDS THE MEASURE (SENATE BILL 53) TO THE FULL SENATE FOR DEBATE. IF APPROVED BY THE FULL HOUSE AND SENATE IN A TWO-THIRDS VOTE, THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ALSO WOULD REQUIRE APPROVAL FROM VOTERS IN THE FALL ELECTION.

THE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY BACKED A PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 200) TO RENAME THE NEW JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BRIDGE NORTH OF BATON ROUGE AFTER TWO LOUISIANA GENERALS WHO WERE COMMANDANTS OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS. THE BRIDGE, WHICH CROSSES THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BETWEEN NEW ROADS AND ST. FRANCISVILLE, WOULD BE CALLED THE GENERALS JOHN A. LEJEUNE-ROBERT H. BARROW BRIDGE, UNDER THE MEASURE BY REP. TOM MCVEA, R-JACKSON. THE BILL HEADS TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

THE HOUSE VOTED 74-11 TO ALLOW TRUCK DRIVERS WITH LIMITED VISION OR WIDE LOADS TO HAUL NON-HAZARDOUS LOADS IN LOUISIANA, SIMILAR TO PROVISIONS ALLOWED IN 22 OTHER STATES. THE PROPOSAL (HOUSE BILL 174) BY REP. HENRY BURNS, R-HAUGHTON, HEADS NEXT TO THE SENATE FOR DEBATE.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ORDERED A PARTIAL FREEZE MONDAY ON STATE SPENDING FOR TRAVEL, SUPPLIES, CONTRACTS AND OTHER OPERATING SERVICES IN MOST STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES FOR THE REMAINING TWO MONTHS OF THE FISCAL YEAR.
JINDAL'S EXECUTIVE ORDER WAS ISSUED TO HELP FREE UP SOME MONEY IN STATE AGENCIES THAT COULD BE CARRIED OVER TO THE NEXT 2011-12 YEAR TO HELP LESSEN THE BLOW OF A MORE THAN $1 BILLION STATE BUDGET SHORTFALL.

A 29-YEAR-OLD WINNFIELD MAN WAS FOUND HANGED IN A CELL INSIDE THE WINNFIELD CITY JAIL IN AN APPARENT SUICIDE. WINNFIELD POLICE SAID MONDAY THAT ANDY JONES WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD SUNDAY NIGHT BY WINN PARISH CORONER RANDOLPH WILLIAMS.
POLICE SAY JONES HAD RETURNED TO HIS CELL AFTER WATCHING TELEVISION, AND WAS LATER FOUND HANGING IN THE CELL. JONES HAD BEEN IN THE JAIL ON CHARGES OF THEFT AND AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL DAMAGE OF PROPERTY.

TWO PINEVILLE MOTHERS HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY DUCT TAPING THEIR CHILDREN AFTER POSTING THEIR PICTURES ON FACEBOOK. LT. DARRELL BASCO WITH THE PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS THE PHOTO'S CAPTION WAS, HIS IS HOW WE BABYSIT OUR CHILDREN. BASCO SAYS THE FACT THAT THESE PICTURES WERE POSTED ON FACEBOOK MADE THE CASE AN EASY ONE TO SOLVE. 29-YEAR-OLD JAYA CLAGGETT AND 26-YEAR-OLD LEQUANDA BROWN WERE BOOKED ON ONE COUNT EACH OF CRUELTY TO A JUVENILE.

THE HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO HEAR LEGISLATION TODAY THAT WOULD TRIPLE THE COST OF PERSONAL AND COMMERCIAL LICENSE TAG FEES. RUSTON REPRESENTATIVE HOLLIS DOWNS SAYS THE HIGHER FEES WOULD BE USED TO PAY FOR OVER 40 HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DESIGNED TO ALLEVIATE CONGESTION IN METRO AREAS. DOWNS THE HIGHER FEES WOULD GENERATE AN ADDITIONAL 200-MILLION DOLLARS. HE SAYS IT WOULD FUND 42 HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AT AN ESTIMATED COST OF THREE BILLION DOLLARS. DOWNS SAYS HE'S RECEIVED MIXED REACTION FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE ON HIS PROPOSAL. HIS LEGISLATION IS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, SO IT WILL TAKE A TWO-THIRDS VOTE OF THE LEGISLATURE AND IT WOULD BE ON THE OCTOBER BALLOT FOR VOTER APPROVAL. DOWNS SAYS IF LOUISIANA RESIDENTS WANT BETTER ROADS THEY'LL HAVE TO PAY FOR IT...

OPPONENTS OF A PROPOSED MERGER OF SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS HAVE LOST ANOTHER BID TO STALL THE CONSOLIDATION EFFORT. THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BACKED THE MERGER BILL IN A 17-4 VOTE, OVER CRITICISM THAT FINANCIAL QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED. HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER, THE SPONSOR OF THE MERGER BILL, SAYS THE ANALYSIS MIGHT BE TOO HIGH. AND HE SAYS THE BENEFITS OUT WEIGH THE PRICE TAG.

STATE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING THE FATAL SHOOTING OF A FRANKLINTON MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED ATTACKS OF THE ELDERLY. FRANKLINTON POLICE CAPTAIN JUSTIN BROWN SAYS 38-YEAR-OLD PHILLIP MORRIS GARRETT HAD A PREVIOUS CRIMINAL HISTORY. HE SAYS THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE WAS APPROPRIATE.

TAX BREAK PROPOSALS ARE IN A HOLDING PATTERN IN THE HOUSE. WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, REP. HUNTER GREENE OF BATON ROUGE, SAYS HE DOESN'T INTEND TO TAKE A VOTE ON ANY OF THE MEASURES UNTIL THE STATE'S INCOME FORECASTING PANEL UPDATES ITS REVENUE ESTIMATES LATER THIS MONTH. SO, INSTEAD GREENE IS HOLDING TESTIMONY ON THE TAX BREAK IDEAS AND KEEPING THEM IN A SORT OF HOLDING PEN AT THE COMMITTEE LEVEL, TAKING NO ACTION FOR NOW. THE MOVE COMES AS THE STATE IS GRAPPLING WITH A $1.6 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL NEXT YEAR. LAWMAKERS ARE WEIGHING WHETHER THEY'D BE WILLING TO MAKE DEEPER CUTS TO STATE AGENCIES TO PAY FOR TAX BREAK PROPOSALS, WHICH INCLUDE ITEMS LIKE INCENTIVES FOR BARGE AND TOWING COMPANIES, HISTORIC RENOVATIONS, DIGITAL MEDIA PRODUCERS AND HOMEOWNERS.

News For Monday 05/09/11 Update 1


NEWS FOR MONDAY 050911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

AUTHORITIES HAVE CHARGED TWO MOMS WITH USING DUCT TAPE TO RESTRAIN
THEIR CHILDREN AND COVER THEIR MOUTHS. THE PINEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS OFFICERS OBTAINED PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE CHILDREN AGES 3 TO 10 WITH DUCT TAPE ON THEM THAT WAS POSTED ON FACEBOOK WITH THE CAPTION, "THIS HOW WE TAKE CARE OF OUR KIDS". POLICE CHARGED 29-YEAR-OLD JAYA CLAGGETT AND 26-YEAR-OLD LEQUANDA BROWN EACH WITH ONE COUNT OF CRUELTY TO JUVENILES.

TODAY THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WILL OPEN THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY IN ST. CHARLES PARISH. THIS WILL RELIEVE PRESSURE ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES IN NEW ORLEANS AND POINTS SOUTH. COL. ED FLEMING WITH THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS BY OPENING THE SPILLWAY, THEY WILL DIVERT RIVER WATER INTO LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY CAN DIVERT UP TO 250-THOUSAND CUBIC FEET OF WATER PER SECOND INTO LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN AND EVENTUALLY IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. FLEMING SAYS THERE ARE SOME ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS BY OPENING
THE SPILLWAY, BUT THE CORPS WILL MONITOR THE SITUATION CLOSELY. THE SPILLWAY WAS LAST OPEN IN 2008. IT STAYED OPEN FOR 28 DAYS. IT WAS OPEN FOR AS LONG AS 75 DAYS IN 1973. FLEMING SAYS THE SPILLWAY WILL BE OPEN FOR TWO TO FOUR WEEKS THIS TIME AROUND.

STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY FLOOD PLAIN AND ATCHAFALAYA RIVER BASIN NEED TO GET PREPARED FOR FLOODING. DR. STRAIN SAYS IT'S NOT A MATTER OF "IF" THERE WILL BE FLOODING IN THOSE AREAS, BUT A MATTER OF "WHEN".

THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY COULD SEND 5 TO 25 FEET OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER OVER SEVEN PARISHES. THE CORPS HAS RELEASED A MAP OF AREAS LIKELY TO FLOOD, INCLUDING THE TOWN OF KROTZ SPRINGS, WHICH COULD GET 5 TO 10 FEET OF WATER. ST. LANDRY PARISH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DIRECTOR LISA VIDRINE SAYS THERE IS AMPLE SHELTER SPACE IN HIGHER PARTS OF ST. LANDRY READY FOR EVACUEES FROM THE PARISHES LOWER PORTIONS. SHE SAYS QUITE A NUMBER OF FOLKS MAY HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES IF THE WATER RISES.
THE MAP SHOWS ST. MARIN PARISH COULD GET 10 TO 20 FEET OF WATER.

WORK CONTINUED OVER THE WEEKEND TO PREPARE VULNERABLE AREAS FROM FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN MISSISSIPPI AND LOUISIANA. IN VICKSBURG, MISS., WORKERS RAISED ABOUT A QUARTER-MILE OF ABANDONED RAILROAD BED TO PROTECT A NEIGHBORHOOD. CREWS WORKED SUNDAY TO BUILD TEMPORARY LEVEES TO PROTECT BUILDINGS IN NATCHEZ, MISS. AND ACROSS THE RIVER IN LOUISIANA, WORKERS BUILT UP A LEVEE AT THE VIDALIA RIVERFRONT. SIMILAR SCENES ARE PLAYING OUT ALL ALONG THE RIVER, WHICH IS RISING RAPIDLY. THE RIVER IS FORECAST TO CREST AT VICKSBURG ON MAY 20, THEN FURTHER SOUTH IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS AUTHORITIES SAY MORE THAN 2,200 HOUSEHOLDS HAVE BEEN EVACUATED IN MISSISSIPPI.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BEGINS THE PROCESS TODAY OF EVACUATING THE FIRST GROUP OF INMATES FROM THE ANGOLA STATE PENITENTIARY. D-O-C SPOKESPERSON PAM LABORDE SAYS UP TO THREE-THOUSAND OF THE FIVE-THOUSAND INMATES MAY HAVE TO BE RE-LOCATED. TODAY IT WILL BE THE INFIRMED. AS FAR AS THE MOST VIOLENT CRIMINALS GO, THEY WILL STAY PUT IN A TENT CITY ON THE HIGHER GROUNDS OF THE FACILITY. LABORDE SAYS SOME OF THE INMATES WILL BE TRANSPORTED TO OTHER STATE PRISONS THAT HAVE EXTRA SPACE. SHE SAYS PUBLIC SAFETY IS THEIR TOP PRIORITY.

YEAR AFTER YEAR, DESPITE BUDGET CUTS AND DEFICITS, LAWMAKERS PACK MONEY FOR FAIRS, FESTIVALS, LOCAL BEAUTIFICATION PROGRAMS AND OTHER PET PROJECTS INTO STATE SPENDING PLANS BY LAWMAKERS. BUT THIS YEAR'S BUDGET SHORTFALL MIGHT FINALLY BE THE TIPPING POINT FOR LEGISLATIVE EARMARKS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HASN'T THREATENED TO RID THE 2011-12 BUDGET OF THE EARMARKS WITH HIS LINE-ITEM VETO, INSTEAD SAYING HE WON'T SUPPORT THE PROJECTS IF IT MEANS ADDITIONAL CUTS TO EDUCATION OR HEALTH SERVICES. HE'S ALSO CALLED FOR ANY ADDITIONS FOR NONGOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS, OR "NGOS," TO MEET REPORTING CRITERIA AND REGIONAL IMPACT REQUIREMENTS, STANDARDS HE'S APPLIED IN PREVIOUS YEARS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL RELEASES HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE WHICH SHOWS HE WAS BORN IN BATON ROUGE TO IMMIGRANT PARENTS FROM INDIA. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE RELEASE OF JINDAL'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS IN RESPONSE TO A "BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP" BILL AUTHORED BY U-S SENATOR DAVID VITTER.

ST. LANDRY PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY A 30-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO STABBED A MOTHER OF TWO AND THEN SET HER HOME ON FIRE HAS TURNED HIMSELF INTO THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE. CAPTIAN JIMMY DARBONNE SAYS DASHON DAVIS OF MORROW FACES THREE COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED ARSON. DARBONNE SAYS A FEMALE VICTIM WAS STABBED SEVERAL TIMES BY DAVIS. HE SAYS THE SUSPECT THEN SET FIRE TO HER HOME, WITH HER TWO CHILDREN INSIDE. DARBONNE SAYS CHILDREN WERE UNINJURED AND THE VICTIM WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE COULD NOT GIVE AN UPDATE ON HER CONDITION.

A NEW SURVEY BY SOUTHERN MEDIA AND OPINION RESEARCH SHOW NEARLY 52 PERCENT OF THOSE RESPONDING HAVE A POOR OPINION OF THE LEGISLATURE. POLLSTER BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS BELIEVE THEIR LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING OUT FOR THEMSELVES RATHER THAN FIXING THE LONG TERM PROBLEMS FACING THE STATE. PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS HAVE LONG MEMORIES WHEN IT COMES TO LEGISLATORS ASKING FOR A RAISE AT THE HEIGHT OF A RECESSION. HE SAYS 86 PERCENT OF VOTERS ARE READY TO VOTE AGAINST THEIR CURRENT LAWMAKERS. PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS HAVE AN OVERALL NEGATIVE OPINION OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT. HE SAYS THE PEOPLE SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING IS GETTING DONE.

A STATE JUDGE HAS BARRED THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE & FISHERIES FROM RENEWING A PERMIT ALLOWING AN I-10 TRUCK STOP TO KEEP A LIVE TIGER ON DISPLAY. THE DECISION'S A WIN FOR THE ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, WHO'S BEEN TRYING TO GET TONY THE TIGER AWAY FROM THE GROSSE TETE TRUCK STOP. ALDF LAWYER MATTHEW LEIBMAN SAYS THE TIGER LIVES IN POOR CONDITIONS. THE JUDGE'S ACTION MEANS TIGER TRUCK STOP OWNER MIKE SANDLIN WILL HAVE TO GIVE TONY UP IN DECEMBER, UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES.

SPORTS..

THE LSU BASEBALL TEAM WAS SHUTOUT BY ALABAMA SUNDAY 9-0 IN SEWELL-THOMAS STADIUM. LSU WENT THE FINAL 22 INNINGS OF THE SERIES WITHOUT A RUN. THE TIGERS HAD A FOUR-RUN FIFTH INNING ON FRIDAY NIGHT AND WENT SCORELESS THE REMAINDER OF THE WEEKEND DUE IN LARGE PART TO IMPRESSIVE PITCHING BY ALABAMA. LSU HOSTS TENNESSEE IN THE FINALE HOME SERIES OF THE SEASON NEXT WEEKEND IN ALEX BOX STADIUM.

THE LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE BASEBALL TEAM WAS BEAT BY TROY SUNDAY AFTERNOON 13-3. THE RAGIN CAJUNS WERE DEALT A SUN BELT SERIES LOSS BY THE TROJANS AND DROPPED THREE GAMES BEHIND THE LEAGUE LEADERS WITH SIX GAMES TO PLAY IN THE REGULAR SEASON. ULL RETURNS TO ACTION ON TUESDAY AGAINST RICE WITH FIRST PITCH SCHEDULED FOR 5:30PM.

ULM FELL TO UALR SUNDAY 6-1 ON SUNDAY AND THE TROJANS COMPLETE A THREE-GAME SWEEP. THE WARHAWKS RETURN HOME ON TUESDAY NIGHT AS THEY PLAY HOST TO CENTRAL ARKANSAS. FIRST PITCH IS 6PM.

NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY BASEBALL TEAM FELL TO THE SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY LIONS SUNDAY 15-4. THE COLONELS TOOK THE FIRST TWO GAMES OF THE SERIES. NICHOLLS RETURNS TO ACTION ON FRIDAY AS THEY HEAD TO TEXAS STATE FOR A THREE GAME SERIES.

NORTHWESTERN STATE RALLIED FROM A 4-2 NINTH-INNING DEFICIT WITH THREE RUNS IN THE FRAME TO DEFEAT CENTRAL ARKANSAS 5-4 AS THEY TAKE THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE BASEBALL SERIES. THE WIN WAS THE FOURTH CONFERENCE VICTORY IN THE LAST SIX GAMES FOR THE DEMONS.

THE NO. 21 LSU SOFTBALL TEAM CLOSED THE FINAL REGULAR SEASON OF YVETTE GIROUARD'S COACHING CAREER NICELY WITH AN 8-0 TRIUMPH OVER SOUTH CAROLINA SUNDAY AT TIGER PARK. THE TIGERS WON THEIR 12TH CONSECUTIVE GAME WITH THE WIN AND SECURED THE NO. 4 SEED IN NEXT WEEK'S SEC TOURNAMENT HOSTED BY OLE MISS. LSU WILL FACE NO. 7 GEORGIA IN THE QUARTER FINALS THURSDAY.

THE 24TH RANKED RAGIN' CAJUNS SOFTBALL TEAM COMPLETED THEIR THREE-GAME SWEEP OF LOUISIANA MONROE SUNDAY WITH A 5-0 WIN ON THE ROAD TO FINISH THE REGULAR SEASON ON A SEVEN-GAME WINNING STREAK. THE CAJUNS HAVE NOW WON 45 GAMES FOR THE 13TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON AS THEY HEAD INTO NEXT WEEK'S SUN BELT TOURNAMENT AS THE NUMBER 1 SEED.

AND THE NORTHWESTERN STATE SOFTBALL TEAM WILL BE MAKING ITS FIRST APPEARANCE IN THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT IN FIVE YEARS DESPITE A 4-3 LOSS TO TEXAS STATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

News For Monday 5/9/11


NEWS FOR MONDAY 050911
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

TODAY THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS WILL OPEN THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY IN ST. CHARLES PARISH. THIS WILL RELIEVE PRESSURE ON MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVEES IN NEW ORLEANS AND POINTS SOUTH. COL. ED FLEMING WITH THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS BY OPENING THE SPILLWAY, THEY WILL DIVERT RIVER WATER INTO LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY CAN DIVERT UP TO 250-THOUSAND CUBIC FEET OF WATER PER SECOND INTO LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN AND EVENTUALLY IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. FLEMING SAYS THERE ARE SOME ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS BY OPENING
THE SPILLWAY, BUT THE CORPS WILL MONITOR THE SITUATION CLOSELY. THE SPILLWAY WAS LAST OPEN IN 2008. IT STAYED OPEN FOR 28 DAYS. IT WAS OPEN FOR AS LONG AS 75 DAYS IN 1973. FLEMING SAYS THE SPILLWAY WILL BE OPEN FOR TWO TO FOUR WEEKS THIS TIME AROUND.

STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN SAYS FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY FLOOD PLAIN AND ATCHAFALAYA RIVER BASIN NEED TO GET PREPARED FOR FLOODING. DR. STRAIN SAYS IT'S NOT A MATTER OF "IF" THERE WILL BE FLOODING IN THOSE AREAS, BUT A MATTER OF "WHEN".

THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS SAYS OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY COULD SEND 5 TO 25 FEET OF MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATER OVER SEVEN PARISHES. THE CORPS HAS RELEASED A MAP OF AREAS LIKELY TO FLOOD, INCLUDING THE TOWN OF KROTZ SPRINGS, WHICH COULD GET 5 TO 10 FEET OF WATER. ST. LANDRY PARISH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DIRECTOR LISA VIDRINE SAYS THERE IS AMPLE SHELTER SPACE IN HIGHER PARTS OF ST. LANDRY READY FOR EVACUEES FROM THE PARISHES LOWER PORTIONS. SHE SAYS QUITE A NUMBER OF FOLKS MAY HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES IF THE WATER RISES.
THE MAP SHOWS ST. MARIN PARISH COULD GET 10 TO 20 FEET OF WATER.

WORK CONTINUED OVER THE WEEKEND TO PREPARE VULNERABLE AREAS FROM FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IN MISSISSIPPI AND LOUISIANA. IN VICKSBURG, MISS., WORKERS RAISED ABOUT A QUARTER-MILE OF ABANDONED RAILROAD BED TO PROTECT A NEIGHBORHOOD. CREWS WORKED SUNDAY TO BUILD TEMPORARY LEVEES TO PROTECT BUILDINGS IN NATCHEZ, MISS. AND ACROSS THE RIVER IN LOUISIANA, WORKERS BUILT UP A LEVEE AT THE VIDALIA RIVERFRONT. SIMILAR SCENES ARE PLAYING OUT ALL ALONG THE RIVER, WHICH IS RISING RAPIDLY. THE RIVER IS FORECAST TO CREST AT VICKSBURG ON MAY 20, THEN FURTHER SOUTH IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS AUTHORITIES SAY MORE THAN 2,200 HOUSEHOLDS HAVE BEEN EVACUATED IN MISSISSIPPI.

THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BEGINS THE PROCESS TODAY OF EVACUATING THE FIRST GROUP OF INMATES FROM THE ANGOLA STATE PENITENTIARY. D-O-C SPOKESPERSON PAM LABORDE SAYS UP TO THREE-THOUSAND OF THE FIVE-THOUSAND INMATES MAY HAVE TO BE RE-LOCATED. TODAY IT WILL BE THE INFIRMED. AS FAR AS THE MOST VIOLENT CRIMINALS GO, THEY WILL STAY PUT IN A TENT CITY ON THE HIGHER GROUNDS OF THE FACILITY. LABORDE SAYS SOME OF THE INMATES WILL BE TRANSPORTED TO OTHER STATE PRISONS THAT HAVE EXTRA SPACE. SHE SAYS PUBLIC SAFETY IS THEIR TOP PRIORITY.

YEAR AFTER YEAR, DESPITE BUDGET CUTS AND DEFICITS, LAWMAKERS PACK MONEY FOR FAIRS, FESTIVALS, LOCAL BEAUTIFICATION PROGRAMS AND OTHER PET PROJECTS INTO STATE SPENDING PLANS BY LAWMAKERS. BUT THIS YEAR'S BUDGET SHORTFALL MIGHT FINALLY BE THE TIPPING POINT FOR LEGISLATIVE EARMARKS. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL HASN'T THREATENED TO RID THE 2011-12 BUDGET OF THE EARMARKS WITH HIS LINE-ITEM VETO, INSTEAD SAYING HE WON'T SUPPORT THE PROJECTS IF IT MEANS ADDITIONAL CUTS TO EDUCATION OR HEALTH SERVICES. HE'S ALSO CALLED FOR ANY ADDITIONS FOR NONGOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS, OR "NGOS," TO MEET REPORTING CRITERIA AND REGIONAL IMPACT REQUIREMENTS, STANDARDS HE'S APPLIED IN PREVIOUS YEARS.

GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL RELEASES HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE WHICH SHOWS HE WAS BORN IN BATON ROUGE TO IMMIGRANT PARENTS FROM INDIA. THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE RELEASE OF JINDAL'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS IN RESPONSE TO A "BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP" BILL AUTHORED BY U-S SENATOR DAVID VITTER.

ST. LANDRY PARISH AUTHORITIES SAY A 30-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO STABBED A MOTHER OF TWO AND THEN SET HER HOME ON FIRE HAS TURNED HIMSELF INTO THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE. CAPTIAN JIMMY DARBONNE SAYS DASHON DAVIS OF MORROW FACES THREE COUNTS OF ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED ARSON. DARBONNE SAYS A FEMALE VICTIM WAS STABBED SEVERAL TIMES BY DAVIS. HE SAYS THE SUSPECT THEN SET FIRE TO HER HOME, WITH HER TWO CHILDREN INSIDE. DARBONNE SAYS CHILDREN WERE UNINJURED AND THE VICTIM WAS TRANSPORTED TO A LOCAL HOSPITAL. THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE COULD NOT GIVE AN UPDATE ON HER CONDITION.

A NEW SURVEY BY SOUTHERN MEDIA AND OPINION RESEARCH SHOW NEARLY 52 PERCENT OF THOSE RESPONDING HAVE A POOR OPINION OF THE LEGISLATURE. POLLSTER BERNIE PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS BELIEVE THEIR LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING OUT FOR THEMSELVES RATHER THAN FIXING THE LONG TERM PROBLEMS FACING THE STATE. PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS HAVE LONG MEMORIES WHEN IT COMES TO LEGISLATORS ASKING FOR A RAISE AT THE HEIGHT OF A RECESSION. HE SAYS 86 PERCENT OF VOTERS ARE READY TO VOTE AGAINST THEIR CURRENT LAWMAKERS. PINSONAT SAYS VOTERS HAVE AN OVERALL NEGATIVE OPINION OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT. HE SAYS THE PEOPLE SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING IS GETTING DONE.

A STATE JUDGE HAS BARRED THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE & FISHERIES FROM RENEWING A PERMIT ALLOWING AN I-10 TRUCK STOP TO KEEP A LIVE TIGER ON DISPLAY. THE DECISION'S A WIN FOR THE ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, WHO'S BEEN TRYING TO GET TONY THE TIGER AWAY FROM THE GROSSE TETE TRUCK STOP. ALDF LAWYER MATTHEW LEIBMAN SAYS THE TIGER LIVES IN POOR CONDITIONS. THE JUDGE'S ACTION MEANS TIGER TRUCK STOP OWNER MIKE SANDLIN WILL HAVE TO GIVE TONY UP IN DECEMBER, UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES.



News For Friday 050611


HE’S BACK, FOUR YEARS AFTER RETIRING AS SHERIFF OF RAPIDES PARISH, WILLIAM EARL HILTON IS RUNNING FOR HIS OLD JOB. HE RETIRED IN FEBRUARY 2008 AFTER 16 YEARS IN OFFICE AND 37 IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. ON THURSDAY, HE TOLD ABOUT 100 SUPPORTERS AT THE SAI CONVENTION CENTER IN ALEXANDRIA THAT HE DOESN'T THINK SHERIFF CHUCK WAGNER IS DOING A GOOD JOB. SHERIFF WAGNER SAYS HE'S LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SHERIFF'S RACE AND RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION ON HIS RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS. THE ELECTION WILL BE OCT. 22.

IN GRANT PARISH, STEVEN MCCAIN OF COLFAX HAS ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY FOR GRANT PARISH SHERIFF IN THE OCT. 22 PRIMARY ELECTION. THE 33 YEAR OLD MCCAIN HAS BEEN IN LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR 14 YEARS AND IS CURRENTLY AN INVESTIGATOR WITH THE GRANT PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE. PREVIOUSLY HE SERVED AS A LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER AND A GRANT PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPUTY.

ALEXANDRIA REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS ROY SAYS A LAST MINUTE AMENDMENT, BY REP. HERBERT DIXON, TO HIS HOUSE BILL 315, WAS A SURPRISE TO HIM. THE BILL WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THE ALEXANDRIA-PINEVILLE AREA CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU TO MOVE INTO ITS OWN FACILITIES. DIXON'S PROPOSED AMENDMENT WOULD PROHIBITED USING ANY REVENUES FOR CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENTS FOR THAT PURPOSE. DIXON SAYS THOUGH THAT WAS NOT HIS INTENTION WITH THE AMENDMENT. HE SAYS, IT WAS MEANT TO TIGHTEN THE LANGUAGE, NOT PROHIBIT THE BUREAU FROM SECURING A NEW FACILITY. IT IS UP TO THE VISITORS BUREAU NOW TO WORK OUT THE LANGUAGE WITH DIXON. WHEN THAT'S DONE, ROY SAYS HE WILL BRING THE LEGISLATION BACK TO THE COMMITTEE.

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DEE DRELL HAS REFUSED BRENDA KIMBALL'S REQUEST TO DELAY HER SENTENCING SET FOR TODAY IN A FEMA-FRAUD CASE IN WHICH THE FORMER TOWN OF BALL CLERK AND FORMER MAYOR ROY HEBRON FACE UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON. DRELL'S ONE-SENTENCE ORDER ALSO INDICATES HE WILL NOT ALLOW KIMBALL TO WITHDRAW HER GUILTY PLEA, WHICH SHE MADE IN FEBRUARY, TO ONE COUNT OF CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. KIMBALL IS ONE OF FOUR DEFENDANTS WHO PLEADED GUILTY AND WILL BE SENTENCED TODAY. ANOTHER DEFENDANT, LAVERNE JAMES, PLEADED GUILTY IN 2009 AND ALSO WILL BE SENTENCED TODAY.

ALLEN PARISH RESIDENTS WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR TO DECIDE WHETHER TO REINSTATE VIDEO POKER. POLICE JURORS WANTED THE ISSUE ON THE OCT. 22 BALLOT. BUT POLICE JURY PRESIDENT BUDDY FARRIS SAYS THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO GET IT ONTO THE BALLOT BECAUSE THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS FOCUSED ON FINANCES. HE SAYS THEY'LL TRY NEXT YEAR. PARISH OFFICIALS SAY VIDEO POKER MACHINES COULD BRING IN $160,000 A YEAR, WITH THE LARGEST SHARE GOING TO THE POLICE JURY. ALLEN PARISH WAS AMONG 33 PARISHES TO PULL THE PLUG ON VIDEO POKER IN REFERENDUMS IN 1996.

LOUISIANA IS PREPARING TO DEAL WITH RECORD HIGH MISSISSIPPI RIVER CRESTS IN THE DAYS TO COME. GOVERNOR JINDAL HAS ACTIVATED NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS TO HELP IN LEVEE SHORING, SANDBAGGING AND POSSIBLE DISASTER RESPONSE. MEANWHILE U.S ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS COLONEL ED FLEMING SAYS THEY WILL OPEN THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY--JUST UPRIVER FROM NEW ORLEANS--TO RELIEVE PRESSURE ON LEVEES. THAT WILL HAPPEN MONDAY. FLEMING SAYS THEY STILL DO NOT EXPECT THE RIVER WILL GET SO HIGH AS TO OVERTOP LEVEES. GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS A DECISION WILL BE REACHED SOON ON POSSIBLY OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY IN POINTE COUPEE PARISH FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1973. THAT MOVE COULD MEAN FLOODING FOR RESIDENTS LIVING IN THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER FLOOD PLAIN.

MEANWHILE, MUCH FARTHER UPRIVER, OFFICIALS IN CONCORDIA PARISH ARE BRACING FOR RECORD-HIGH RIVER LEVELS TO COME. HYRAM COPELAND IS MAYOR OF VIDALIA. HE SAYS STEPS ARE UNDERWAY TO PROTECT BUSINESSES ON THE RIVER SIDE OF THE LEVEE WITH MAKESHIFT INSTANT LEVEES. HE SAYS THERE'S NO NEED FOR EVACUATIONS AT THIS TIME. ENGINEERS FEEL THERE'S NO DANGER OF THE RIVER OVERTOPPING LEVEES, BUT THEY ARE CAUTIOUS OF SANDBOILS THAT CAN WEAKEN THEM.

ALTHOUGH SOME WORK REMAINS TO BE DONE ON THE JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BRIDGE OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, THE LONGEST CABLE-STAYED SPAN IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE OPENED FOR TRAFFIC YESTERDAY, A MONTH EARLY, AFTER FIVE YEARS OF CONSTRUCTION.
THE $409 MILLION BRIDGE REPLACES THE FERRY ON THE MISSISSIPPI BETWEEN WEST FELICIANA AND POINTE COUPEE PARISHES.

THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HAS DELAYED PLANS TO DEBATE THE MERGER OF SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS. THE COMMITTEE HAD SCHEDULED A HEARING ON THE DIVISIVE PROPOSAL, BUT CHAIRMAN, SENATOR BEN NEVERS OF BOGALUSA, SCRAPPED THE HEARING PLANS, SAYING THE MEASURE INSTEAD WILL BE DISCUSSED NEXT WEEK.

THE STATE SENATE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT PROVIDES BENEFITS TO THE FAMILIES OF 32 LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS WHO DIED IN THE WAR ON TERROR. LIVONIA SENATOR ROB MARIONNEAUX SAYS THE BILL WILL COST THE STATE $8-MILLION DURING TOUGH BUDGET TIMES, BUT THAT SHOULD NOT KEEP THE STATE LEGISLATURE FROM APPROVING IT. THE BILL, BY BENTON SENATOR ROBERT ADLEY, GRANTS $250-THOUSAND TO FAMILIES OF NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS KILLED IN ACTION SINCE SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001. IT ALSO GRANTS $100-THOUSAND TO SOLDIERS TOTALLY DISABLED IN SERVICE.

DEMOCRAT CAROLINE FAYARD SAYS SHE WILL RUN FOR SECRETARY OF STATE THIS FALL, AGAINST REPUBLICAN TOM SCHEDLER, WHO CURRENTLY HOLDS THE POSITION. FAYARD RAN UNSUCCESSFULLY FOR LT. GOVERNOR LAST YEAR. U.L.-LAFAYETTE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR PEARSON CROSS SAYS IT'S NOT A FAVORABLE CLIMATE FOR DEMOCRATS TO RUN FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE, WHICH COULD HURT FAYARD'S CHANCES.

POWER PROVIDER CLECO CORP. POSTED A FIRST-QUARTER PROFIT. FOR THE JANUARY-THROUGH-MARCH PERIOD, CLECO EARNED $29 MILLION, OR 48 CENTS PER SHARE, ON REVENUE OF $253.7 MILLION

THE PRICE OF CRUDE OIL DROPPED NEARLY $10 THURSDAY; DROPPING TO BELOW $100-A-BARREL. WILL THAT MEAN SOME RELIEF FOR MOTORISTS AT THE PUMP? AAA FUEL ANALYST MIKE RIGHT SAYS PROBABLY SO, BUT UNDER CURRENT MARKET CONDITIONS ALL ANYONE CAN DO IS GUESS. CRUDE OIL CLOSED AT 99.80 A BARREL THURSDAY; A ONE-DAY DROP OF NEARLY $10. RIGHT SAYS THE DROP IN OIL - COUPLED WITH CURRENTLY LOW DEMAND FOR GAS WILL PROBABLY MEAN SOME MUCH NEEDED RELIEF FOR CONSUMERS STRUGGLING TO
PAY FOR GAS AND MAKE ENDS MEET. HOWEVER, RIGHT SAYS, HOWEVER, THE MARKET COULD REVERSE AT ANY TIME; PUTTING OIL AND GAS PRICES ON THE RISE AGAIN.

ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION, LOUISIANA'S GAMBLING INDUSTRY REVENUE FELL BY NEARLY 4 PERCENT IN 2010. LOUISIANA CASINO ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WADE DUTY SAYS THE NATIONAL RECESSION IS MOSTLY TO BLAME BUT LOUISIANA HAS OTHER FACTORS HURTING THE INDUSTRY HERE. DUTY SAYS MANY OUT OF STATE GAMBLERS ARE SIMPLY OPTING NOT TO TRAVEL LONGER DISTANCES AND HIGH GAS PRICES ARE ALSO A FACTOR. HE SAYS HE DOES EXPECT TO SEE SOME IMPROVEMENT SOON AS CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RETURNS.

SPORTS..

THE LSU BASEBALL TEAM TAKES A FIVE-GAME WINNING STREAK TO TUSCALOOSA WHERE THEY'LL FACE THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. IT SHOULD BE AN EMOTIONAL SERIES AS THE TOWN OF TUSCALOOSA IS RECOVERING FROM LAST WEEK'S DEVASTATING TORNADOES. COACH PAUL MAINIERI SAYS STAYING FOCUSED ON BASEBALL COULD BE A PROBLEM. LSU NEEDS TO WIN THIS SERIES TO KEEP ITS HOPES ALIVE FOR AN SEC TOURNAMENT BERTH. MAINIERI'S TEAM HAS LOST EIGHT STRAIGHT CONFERENCE GAMES ON THE ROAD.

 

News For Thursday 05/05/11


NEWS FOR THURSDAY 050511
BY DAVE GRAICHEN

ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY WILL MEET WITH MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL ON MONDAY TO DISCUSS THE LATEST BUDGET PROPOSAL ON THE TABLE. THE CITY HAS BEEN OPERATING WITHOUT A BUDGET SINCE SUNDAY THE 1ST. UNTIL A NEW BUDGET IS ADOPTED, THE CITY WILL MOVE FORWARD WITH A BUDGET THAT IS 50 PERCENT OF THE 2010-11 BUDGET.

SOME MEMBERS OF THE RAPIDES PARISH POLICE JURORS ARE UPSET OVER INCREASED SPEED LIMITS ON SOME STATE ROADS. A MOTION, MADE BY JURY PRESIDENT RICHARD BILLINGS, REQUESTS "THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT TO LOWER THE SPEED LIMITS BACK TO THE ORIGINAL SPEEDS THROUGH OUR SMALL COMMUNITIES. BILLINGS SAYS HE BELIEVE THE NEW SPEED LIMITS HAVE MADE SOME COMMUNITIES A DEATH TRAP. HE GAVE THE TOWN OF MCNARY AS AN EXAMPLE. BILLINGS SAYS HE THINKS THE HIGHER SPEED LIMITS WILL BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE DRIVING PUBLIC.

STATE OFFICIALS WILL RECEIVE UPDATED MODELS FROM THE U-S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TODAY REGARDING POTENTIAL FLOODING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS WATER IS ALREADY OVERTOPPING THE OUTER LEVEE IN SOME AREAS ALONG THE RIVER AS THE STATE BRACES FOR RECORD WATER LEVELS ON THE MISSISSIPPI. JINDAL SAYS TO HELP WITH FLOOD FIGHTING EFFORTS, THE STATE HAS ACTIVATED 150 LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS. THE GOVERNOR HAS ALSO REQUESTED A FEDERAL ACTIVATION OF AN ADDITIONAL 15-HUNDRED SOLDIERS. JINDAL SAYS DURING TODAY'S MEETING WITH THE CORPS, THEY MIGHT FINALIZE PLANS TO OPEN THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY, WHICH IS LOCATED NORTH OF NEW ORLEANS. HE SAYS THEY WILL ALSO DISCUSS OPENING THE MORGANZA SPILLWAY, WHICH COULD LEAD TO FLOODING FOR AREAS ALONG ATCHAFALAYA RIVER.

THE STATE IS MAKING PREPARATIONS TO DEAL WITH EXPECTED RECORD-HIGH MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVELS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS A BRAND NEW BRIDGE ACROSS THE RIVER WILL BE OPENED AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. HE SAYS THE HIGH WATER IS FORCING THE CLOSURE OF THE NEW ROADS-ST. FRANCISVILLE FERRY TODAY. HOWEVER, GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BRIDGE, CONNECTING ST. FRANCISVILLE TO NEW ROADS, WILL OPEN TODAY, RIGHT AFTER THE FERRY'S CLOSURE.

A LEADING BUSINESS MAGAZINE RANKS LOUISIANA AS ITS MOST-IMPROVED STATE FOR BUSINESS OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS. "CHIEF EXECUTIVE" MAGAZINE RANKS THE STATE #27 OF 50; UP FROM 41ST LAST YEAR AND 44TH IN 2009. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY STEPHEN MORET SAYS IT'S ANOTHER NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT FOR LOUISIANA.
MORET SAYS THE MAGAZINE ARTICLE WILL BE READ BY THOUSANDS OF HIGH-PLACED COMPANY EXECUTIVES AND WILL MEAN MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO COMPETE FOR HIGH-QUALITY PROJECTS, AND THE GOOD JOBS THAT COME WITH THEM.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE SIGNS POSTED IN ABORTION CLINICS THAT DESCRIBE THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO PREGNANT WOMEN. PLANNED PARENTHOOD SPOKESPERSON JULIE MICKLEBERRY SAYS WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTRUSION. SHE SAYS THE SIGNS POST CONDESCENDING MESSAGES. THE LEGISLATION NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR MORE DEBATE.

THE CADDO PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS A 71-YEAR-OLD PILOT DIED WHEN HIS LIGHT PLANE CRASHED NORTH OF SHREVEPORT. HE'S IDENTIFIED AS DAVID WILLIAMSON OF BOSSIER CITY. SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESWOMAN CINDY CHADWICK SAYS WITNESSES SAW THE PLANE FLYING LOW AND IN DISTRESS ABOUT 11:40 A.M. WEDNESDAY, AND A DRIVER CALLED SHORTLY AFTER NOON TO REPORT A CRASH. SHE SAYS WILLIAMSON WAS DEAD WHEN EMERGENCY CREWS FOUND THE EUROPA EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT BETWEEN SEVERAL OAK TREES ON A PRIVATE FARM.

A STATE TROOPER IS RECOVERING AFTER A BULLET GRAZED HIS HEAD EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING IN WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH. THE TROOPER WAS SHOT WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ARREST A SUSPECTED DRUNK DRIVER. THE TROOPER'S INJURIES ARE NOT CONSIDERED TO BE LIFE THREATENING.

WITH THE MISSISSIPPI RISING TOWARD HISTORIC HIGHS, SHIPPERS, PORTS AND INDUSTRIES ALONG THE RIVER'S SOUTHERN REACHES ARE HOPING THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CAN KEEP THE SOUTHWEST PASS TO THE GULF OF MEXICO UNCLOGGED. CORPS OFFICIALS SAY FOUR DREDGES ARE CURRENTLY DEPLOYED TO MAINTAIN THE CHANNEL'S 45-FOOT DEPTH.

THE STATE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED A BILL TO EMPOWER THE STATE'S FIGHT AGAINST THE EXPLOSION IN FERAL PIG POPULATIONS. THE BILL BY NEW ROADS REPRESENTATIVE MAJOR THIBAUT WOULD ALLOW WILD HOGS TO BE TRAPPED YEAR ROUND WITHOUT PERMIT. IT CHARGES WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES TO CREATE RULES FOR TAKING THE NUISANCE ANIMALS AND WOULD EVEN ALLOW NIGHT HUNTING.

THE NAACP WANTS A CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG FLYING OVER THE CADDO COURTHOUSE TO COME DOWN. THE GROUP SAYS THE FLAG IS A SYMBOL OF A GOVERNMENT THAT EMBRACED SLAVERY AND HAS NO PLACE IN THE 21ST CENTURY. THE STATE SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR THE ARGUMENT NEXT WEEK.

LEGISLATION TO PROHIBIT SOME SEX OFFENDERS FROM USING FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITES RAN INTO PROBLEMS IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE, AFTER CONCERNS WERE BROUGHT UP ABOUT ENFORCEMENT AND THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF THE PROPOSAL. CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER LOBBYIST RICK SCHROEDER SAYS THE PROPOSED LAW IS TOO VAGUE AND OVERREACHING. THE BILL IS SPONSORED BY OPELOUSAS REPRESENTATIVE LEDRICKA THIERRY AND IS A PART OF THE GOVERNOR'S PACKAGE TO CRACK DOWN ON SEX OFFENDERS. METAIRIE REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPH LOPINTO SAYS THE LEGISLATION NEEDS TO BE REWORDED FOR IT TO HAVE A CHANCE TO PASS DURING THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION
THIERRY SAYS SHE'LL MAKE CHANGES TO HER BILL AND BRING IT BACK TO THE COMMITTEE FOR THEIR APPROVAL AT A LATER DATE.

RIVERBOAT CASINOS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI ARE LOOKING AT CLOSING UP, WHILE RECORD HIGH RIVER CRESTS RUN THEIR COURSE. IN NATCHEZ, THE ISLE OF CAPRI CASINO SAYS THEY'LL CLOSE THEIR DOORS SUNDAY. TWO BATON ROUGE CASINOS ARE MAKING THEIR HIGH WATER DECISIONS NOW. THE MISSISSIPPI AT BATON ROUGE IS EXPECTED TO CREST WELL ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY MAY 21ST.

TODAY MARKS TWO MONTHS SINCE THE DEADLY TORNADO THAT STRUCK THE ACADIA PARISH TOWN OF RAYNE, AND RECOVERY IS STILL UNDERWAY. RAYNE MAYOR JIMBO PETITJEAN SAYS THEY STILL HOPE FOR FEDERAL FUNDS TO HELP HUNDREDS OF HOMEOWNERS AFFECTED BY THE STORM. PETITJEAN SAYS THEY'VE FORMED A LONG-TERM RECOVERY COALITION FOR RAYNE THAT'S ASSIGNING CASE WORKERS TO FAMILIES, TO ASSESS INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.

THE LOUISIANA SPCA IN NEW ORLEANS IS SENDING 60 PUPPIES AND SMALL DOGS TO ATLANTA FOR ADOPTION THIS WEEK. IT'S THE LATEST STEP TAKEN TO COPE WITH WHAT SPOKESWOMAN KATHERINE LEBLANC SAYS IS A POPULATION OF STRAYS AND ABANDONED PETS THAT HAS GROWN STEADILY SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA HIT IN 2005. LEBLANC SAYS TWO FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM. ONE IS THAT PEOPLE ARE STILL FAILING TO HAVE PETS SPAYED OR NEUTERED. WHEN THEIR DOGS BECOME PREGNANT, THE OWNERS BRING THE PUPPIES TO THE ORGANIZATION'S SHELTER. ALSO, SAYS LEBLANC, STRAYS LEFT BEHIND AFTER KATRINA HAVE BEEN REPRODUCING STEADILY.

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR SAID WEDNESDAY THE STATE COULD SEE MONUMENTAL FLOODING WHEN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER CRESTS LATER THIS MONTH, AND HE'S URGING PEOPLE TO EVACUATE LOW-LYING AREAS, PARTICULARLY IN THE SOUTH DELTA. BARBOUR SAID ALL COUNTIES ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI ARE PREDICTED TO HAVE SOME FLOODING IN MID-MAY. HE SAID THE WORST COULD BE IN THE YAZOO BACKWATER IN A TRIANGLE FORMED BY VICKSBURG, ROLLING FORK AND THE YAZOO RIVER IN YAZOO COUNTY. "THESE ARE GOING TO BE HISTORIC LEVELS OF FLOODING," BARBOUR SAID. THE STATE WON'T PROVIDE ASSISTANCE FOR THE EVACUATIONS, ALTHOUGH AUTHORITIES WILL PREPARE TEMPORARY SHELTERS FOR SEVERAL THOUSAND PEOPLE WHO COULD BE OUT OF THEIR HOMES FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, HE SAID. NURSING HOMES AND HOSPITALS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE EVACUATION PLANS. RESIDENTS WHO NEED HELP MOVING THEIR BELONGINGS AND SECURING THEIR PROPERTY SHOULD RELY ON FRIENDS, RELATIVES OR EVEN STRANGERS WILLING TO LEND A HAND.
 

NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY EVENING 05/04/11


THE STATE IS MAKING PREPARATIONS TO DEAL WITH EXPECTED RECORD-HIGH MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVELS. GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL SAYS A BRAND NEW BRIDGE ACROSS THE RIVER WILL BE OPENED AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. HE SAYS THE HIGH WATER IS FORCING THE CLOSURE OF THE NEW ROADS-ST. FRANCISVILLE FERRY THURSDAY AT 10A . HOWEVER, GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BRIDGE, CONNECTING ST. FRANCISVILLE TO NEW ROADS, WILL OPEN, RIGHT AFTER THE FERRY'S CLOSURE.

THE HOUSE HEALTH AND WELFARE COMMITTEE APPROVES LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE SIGNS POSTED IN ABORTION CLINICS THAT DESCRIBE THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO PREGNANT WOMEN. PLANNED PARENTHOOD SPOKESPERSON JULIE MICKLEBERRY SAYS WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS WITHOUT GOVERNMENT INTRUSION. SHE SAYS THE SIGNS POST CONDESCENDING MESSAGES. THE LEGISLATION NOW MOVES TO THE HOUSE FLOOR FOR MORE DEBATE.

A SMALL PLANE CRASHED YESTERDAY, DURING THE LUNCH HOUR, JUST NORTH OF SHREVEPORT. AUTHORITIES SAY NO ONE HAD REPORTED A PLANE MISSING UNTIL A MOTORIST CALLED 911 TO REPORT A PLANE WAS DOWN ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. POLICE SAY THE UNIDENTIFIED PILOT WAS KILLED IN THE CRASH.

A STATE TROOPER IS RECOVERING AFTER A BULLET GRAZED HIS HEAD EARLY TODAY IN WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH. THE TROOPER WAS SHOT WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ARREST A SUSPECTED DRUNK DRIVER. THE TROOPER'S INJURIES ARE NOT CONSIDERED TO BE LIFE THREATENING.

WITH THE MISSISSIPPI RISING TOWARD HISTORIC HIGHS, SHIPPERS, PORTS AND INDUSTRIES ALONG THE RIVER'S SOUTHERN REACHES ARE HOPING THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CAN KEEP THE SOUTHWEST PASS TO THE GULF OF MEXICO UNCLOGGED. CORPS OFFICIALS SAY FOUR DREDGES ARE CURRENTLY DEPLOYED TO MAINTAIN THE CHANNEL'S 45-FOOT DEPTH.

THE STATE HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED A BILL TO EMPOWER THE STATE'S FIGHT AGAINST THE EXPLOSION IN FERAL PIG POPULATIONS. THE BILL BY NEW ROADS REPRESENTATIVE MAJOR THIBAUT WOULD ALLOW WILD HOGS TO BE TRAPPED YEAR ROUND WITHOUT PERMIT. IT CHARGES WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES TO CREATE RULES FOR TAKING THE NUISANCE ANIMALS AND WOULD EVEN ALLOW NIGHT HUNTING.

THE NAACP WANTS A CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG FLYING OVER THE CADDO COURTHOUSE TO COME DOWN. THE GROUP SAYS THE FLAG IS A SYMBOL OF A GOVERNMENT THAT EMBRACED SLAVERY AND HAS NO PLACE IN THE 21ST CENTURY. THE STATE SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR THE ARGUMENT NEXT WEEK.

RIVERBOAT CASINOS ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI ARE LOOKING AT CLOSING UP, WHILE RECORD HIGH RIVER CRESTS RUN THEIR COURSE. IN NATCHEZ, THE ISLE OF CAPRI CASINO SAYS THEY'LL CLOSE THEIR DOORS SUNDAY. TWO BATON ROUGE CASINOS ARE MAKING THEIR HIGH WATER DECISIONS NOW. THE MISSISSIPPI AT BATON ROUGE IS EXPECTED TO CREST WELL ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY MAY 21ST.

 

NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY 050411


ALEXANDRIA MAYOR JACQUES ROY PRESENTED A COMPROMISE BUDGET TO THE CITY COUNCIL YESTERDAY. THE MAYOR'S "CONCILIATION" PROPOSAL WOULD GENERATE NEARLY $2 MILLION, THE AMOUNT NEEDED TO ELIMINATE FURLOUGHS AND BALANCE THE BUDGET. THE MAYOR’S PLAN WOULD REQUIRE SMALLER FEE INCREASES FOR THE ALEXANDRIA ZOO, THE CITY'S TRANSIT SYSTEM AND THE CITY'S RESIDENTIAL GARBAGE PICKUP AND STORM WATER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. THE MAYOR ALSO SAID HE WOULD USE $865,000 IN SURPLUS FUNDING, AS WELL AS ANY ADDITIONAL FUNDS LEFT OVER AT THE END OF THE 2010-11 FISCAL YEAR, WHICH WOULD GO TO HELP OFFSET INCREASED EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE. THE NEW FISCAL YEAR BEGAN LAST SUNDAY. THAT LEAVES THE CITY WITH NO OPERATING BUDGET AT THIS TIME.

THE LAFAYETTE BOY SCOUT TROOP THAT HAD BEEN STRANDED IN AN ARKANSAS FOREST FOR SEVERAL DAYS IS BACK HOME. EVANGELINE AREA COUNCIL DIRECTOR ART HAWKING SAYS THERE WAS ONLY ONE MINOR INJURY AMONG THE BOYS. HAWKINS SAYS SAFETY AMONG THE BOY SCOUTS IS A TOP PRIORITY AND THE BOYS WERE ALL WELL TRAINED. HE SAYS THE TROOP'S HIKE PLAN THAT WAS PUT TOGETHER BEFORE THE BOYS LEFT MADE THE SEARCH MUCH EASIER. THE SCOUTS WERE RESCUED BY A NATIONAL GUARD HELICOPTER. HAWKINS SAYS THE GUARD RETURNED THE SCOUTS TO A STAGING AREA YESTERDAY MORNING WHERE THEY WERE REUNITED WITH THEIR PARENTS.

EVEN THOUGH THERE'S AN NFL LOCKOUT IN PLACE, OVER 30 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS' PLAYERS MET ON THE TULANE CAMPUS YESTERDAY TO WORK OUT. QUARTERBACK DREW BREES SAYS THEY WILL CONTINUE TO PRACTICE AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. BREES SAYS HE ORGANIZED THE SESSIONS IN ORDER TO PREPARE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS EXPECTED TO HIT A RECORD CREST IN VICKSBURG ON MAY 18TH. THE CREST IS EXPECTED TO BE AROUND 57.5 FEET, OVER A FOOT HIGHER THAN THE GREAT FLOOD OF 1927. 5TH LOUISIANA LEVEE DISTRICT PRESIDENT REYNOLD MINSKY SAYS THE LEVEE SYSTEM HAS BEEN IMPROVED TO SO MUCH SINCE 1927 THAT HE IS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT THE RIVER COMING OVER THE TOPS OF THE LEVEES. WHAT DOES WORRY HIM IS WATER FINDING ITS WAY UNDER THE
LEVEES CREATING WHAT ARE CALLED SAND BOILS. MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR REQUESTS DISASTER DECLARATION IN ANTICIPATION OF MISS. RIVER FLOODS.

AS MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATERS CONTINUE TO RISE, GOVERNOR JINDAL ORDERS PRECAUTIONARY STEPS TO DEAL WITH HIGH WATER, INCLUDING A PLAN TO EVACUATE ANGOLA STATE PRISON. THE GOVERNOR SAYS EVACUATION OF SICK AND INFIRM PRISONERS FROM ANGOLA WILL START MONDAY. GOVERNOR JINDAL SAYS THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY MAY OPEN AS EARLY AS MONDAY, TO RELIEVE PRESSURE ON LEVEES DOWNRIVER. HE SAYS RIVER CRESTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE AT RECORD LEVELS AND REMAIN THAT WAY FOR 7 TO 10 DAYS.

FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR RAY NAGIN IS SET TO RELEASE A MEMOIR TITLED,
"KATRINA'S SECRETS: STORMS AFTER THE STORM." A PRESS RELEASE SAYS THE
BOOK WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR SALE ON JUNE 8TH.

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS POSTPONED A TRIAL FOR AN OFFSHORE SERVICE COMPANY'S LAWSUIT AGAINST THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT OVER A MORATORIUM THAT HAD SUSPENDED DEEPWATER DRILLING IN THE GULF OF MEXICO AFTER BP'S OIL SPILL. THE TRIAL FOR ENSCO OFFSHORE COMPANY'S LAWSUIT WAS SCHEDULED TO START MAY 16, BUT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE MARTIN FELDMAN AGREED LAST WEEK TO GIVE BOTH SIDES MORE TIME TO SUBMIT BRIEFS ON PRE-TRIAL MATTERS. A NEW TRIAL DATE HASN'T BEEN SET, BUT IT WON'T START BEFORE JULY 22. ENSCO HAS ACCUSED THE GOVERNMENT OF WRONGFULLY DELAYING THE ISSUANCE OF PERMITS FOR DEEPWATER DRILLING SINCE IT LIFTED A MORATORIUM ON THE PROJECTS IN OCTOBER.

THE METROPOLITAN AREA OF NEW ORLEANS LOST MORE PEOPLE THAN ANY OF THE NATION'S BIGGEST URBAN AREAS, ACCORDING TO A NEW ANALYSIS OF CENSUS DATA.
THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS COMMUNITY DATA CENTER, A NON-PROFIT THAT ANALYZES CENSUS DATA, FOUND THAT THE NEW ORLEANS METRO REGION LOST 11 PERCENT OF ITS POPULATION BETWEEN 2000 AND 2010. IN 2000, ABOUT 1.3 MILLION PEOPLE LIVED IN NEW ORLEANS AND THE SURROUNDING PARISHES BUT THAT DROPPED TO UNDER 1.2 MILLION IN 2010.

LEGISLATION TO MERGE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AT NEW ORLEANS AND UNO GETS ITS FIRST HEARING BEFORE THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TODAY. POLITICAL ANALYST JOHN MAGINNIS AGREES WITH HOUSE SPEAKER JIM TUCKER THAT THE BILL SHOULD EASILY CLEAR COMMITTEE. HOWEVER HE THINKS THE LEGISLATION WILL FACE A MUCH GREATER CHALLENGE ONCE IT FINDS IT'S WAY TO THE MORE MODERATE SENATE.

A HOUSE HEALTH COMMITTEE WILL HEAR A PROPOSED BILL INTENDED TO FURTHER DISCOURAGE WOMEN SEEKING ABORTIONS FROM ENDING THEIR PREGNANCIES. WEST MONROE REP. FRANK HOFFMAN SAYS HIS BILL WOULD REQUIRE VISIBLE MATERIALS BE POSTED IN CLINICS THAT COULD HELP CHANGE A WOMAN'S MIND. HOFFMAN SAYS HIS BILL WOULD REQUIRE SIGNAGE AT WOMEN'S CLINICS, WHERE ABORTIONS ARE PERFORMED, TO ASSURE WOMEN THEY'RE NOT OBLIGATED TO GO THROUGH WITH THE PROCEDURE. THE HOUSE HEALTH & WELFARE COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE UP HOFFMAN'S BILL TODAY.

AN ATTORNEY FOR A FORMER ASSUMPTION PARISH SHERIFF'S EVIDENCE CLERK HAS ASKED A JUDGE TO THROW OUT 14 OF THE COUNTS HIS CLIENT FACES. FORMER SHERIFF'S LT. LOUIS B. LAMBERT IS ACCUSED OF TAMPERING WITH ABOUT 540 EVIDENCE ENVELOPES IN DRUG CASES. LAMBERT ALSO WAS INDICTED ON 14 COUNTS OF ILLEGALLY POSSESSING A FIREARM.

THE ORLEANS PARISH CORONER'S OFFICE CONFIRMS THAT BODIES FOUND IN LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN LAST WEEK ARE THOSE OF 13-YEAR-OLD HALF-BROTHERS MISSING SINCE EASTER. THE BOYS DISAPPEARED WHILE WALKING A NEIGHBOR'S DOG NEAR LINCOLN BEACH. FAMILY MEMBERS REPORTED THEM MISSING A DAY LATER.

STATE WILDLIFE & FISHERIES SAY A SPECIAL SHRIMP SEASON WILL OPEN AT
6 FRIDAY MORNING, IN AN AREA WEST OF THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. RECENT
SAMPLINGS IN THAT AREA SHOW MARKETABLE -SIZE WHITE SHRIMP IN
ABUNDANCE IN THOSE WATERS.

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