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Suit filed to halt Common Core

Common Core opponents file a lawsuit in an attempt to keep the state from adopting the controversial education standards. 17 state lawmakers are banding together under the name "The Concerned Citizens of Louisiana" to challenge the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's adoption of Common Core on procedural grounds.

Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann says BESE did not keep the public informed when they adopted Common Core in 2010.

"The reason we filed the court action today is because we believe that the parents and the educations and the public were left out of the process. "
Governor Jindal has used executive authority to halt the use of Common Core in Louisiana. Jindal also claims BESE did not follow the law when adopting Common Core. White disagrees with Jindal's assertion and the lawsuit claiming BESE didn't follow state mandated procedures.
"So the law says, BESE you have to approve the standards that the department establishes. It dose not say anything about the Administrative Procedures Act."


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Mainieri all smiles over new assistant coach and recruiting class

Former Tulane star Andy Cannizaro has been introduced as LSU's new recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. Cannizaro was a standout shortstop for the Tulane Green Wave in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Cannizaro has worked as a scout for the New York Yankees since 2009 and the Mandeville native is pumped up to join the purple and gold. 

"I loved working for the New York Yankees," Cannizaro said. "I felt the expectations and the demands of that organization were greater than an organization in Major League Baseball. Now coming to the college baseball scene, I feel like I'm going to work for the New York Yankees of college baseball."
Cannizaro replaces Javi Sanchez, who left LSU earlier this month to pursue a business career. LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri is excited about Cannizaro joining his staff and he's also thrilled with his 2015 recruiting class, which features some power arms and some very good everyday players.
"We've been fortunate enough to have the number one ranked class twice in my tenure," Mainieri said. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is another number one recruiting class."
LSU has also released its schedule for next season. It all starts with a three-game series against Kansas on February 13th. Mainieri says his team will be challenged right away. 
"This maybe the toughest opening series in my nine years here," Mainieri said. "Kansas is a real and upcoming program. They made the NCAA Tournament last season."
LSU will also travel to Houston’s Minute Maid Park to play in the Houston College Classic. The three teams they’ll play are Houston, Nebraska, and Baylor. The Tigers SEC schedule begins March 13th at home against Ole Miss. And they’ll play the Ragin Cajuns on Wednesday April 1st in the Wally Pontiff Junior Classic at Zephyr Field in Metairie.
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State lawmaker seeking public input on immigration

The tens of thousands of children crossing over into neighboring Texas is raising concerns Louisiana may face an immigration problem of it's own. Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges, a member of the House Committee on Criminal Justice, is calling on the state leadership to develop a plan of action for immigration in Louisiana. She says the crisis next door is spreading to states across the country.

 "We have a major crisis that is going on in Texas, but it's not just effecting Texas, its going to effect the rest of the United States."
With Texas shelters currently overflowing with the unaccompanied children, Hodges is concerned that Louisiana facilities may be used to house the immigrants. Hodges says she would like citizens to visit her Facebook page and take a survey, to voice their concerns.
"A lot of these aliens are being sent to other states. We think that they will be sent here, and i just want to hear the pulse of the people"
The tens of thousands of children crossing the border into the US are being driven, in large part, out of their Central American homes by escalating violence related to gang warfare and drugs. Hodges says she is concerned that the immigrants may be brining that violence with them.
"There's gang members, there's drug cartels. It's a humanitarian crisis, but what you are seeing in a lot of these pictures is older teenage young men."

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Racial discrimination lawsuit filed against ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert

Michelle Southern reporting.
ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert is facing a federal racial discrimination lawsuit alleging he made working conditions unbearable for African-American Employees. J. Arthur Smith III is a Baton Rouge attorney who has filed the suit on behalf of Charles Gilmore, Daimian McDowell and Larry Hingle.

"Mr Hebert has engaged in a systematic effort to rid African-American employees from the ranks of the supervisory level within the enforcement division," said Smith.

Smith says Hebert was trying to force out his clients in every conceivable way. The ATC Commissioner says it's an injustice to all races when people use the race card to hide laziness.

But Smith says his clients have exemplary records and were stellar employees.

"He just decided that he was going to get rid of them and we even have conversations in which he references their race," said Smith.

Smith says Hebert was adamant about making the work of his clients so miserable that they would either resign or have a complete meltdown.

"And he was successful in that," said Smith. "The problem is that it was overtly racially discriminatory."

Hebert says it is not a secret that he inherited a troubled agency with problem employees, but he's very proud of the way they've turned things around.

"As far as performance, I think the tax payers deserve an honest days work for an honest days pay and as long as I'm commissioner I'm going to make sure they're getting that," said Hebert.

A hearing date has not been set.


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Arrest made in Lafayette Parish fatal hit and run

State Police says they've made an arrest in the case of the cyclist who was found dead on the side of the road earlier this month in Lafayette Parish. Master Trooper Brooks David says on July 7th, 30-year-old Lon Lomas of Youngsville was struck from behind by a vehicle believed to have been driven by Fitzpatrick Doucette.

"Hours after after Mr. Lomas was struck, Mr. Doucette's vehicle was suspected in that crash," said David.

Brooks says the body of Lomas was found in a ditch on the side of the road around 7am the day of the incident and it wasn't long before they heard from the Kaplan Police Department.

"In reference to a vehicle that sustained a good amount of damage that was brought to their station," David says.

Brooks says Doucette's vehicle sustained a significant amount of damage to the front and there was sufficient information obtained by investigators to issue an arrested warrant.

Doucette is being charged with negligent homicide, felony hit and run, driving under suspension and limitations on passing bicycles.

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Vitter files bill to stop flow of illegal border crossings

Republican US Senator David Vitter files legislation that he says will stop the flow of illegal border crossings. Vitter's measure would implement mandatory detention near the US-Mexico border and expedited deportation of unaccompanied minors from Central and South America.
"That's what we need to be doing, not simply housing and accepting these folks in and giving them housing and help. That will increase the flow, not stem the flow." 
Between October and this past June, an estimated 57-thousand unaccompanied children were apprehended by Border Patrol. The Obama administration says that number could reach 90-thousand by the end of September.
Vitter admits his legislation will have a difficult time getting a debate in the Senate, because Senate leader Harry Reid will not be in support of this legislation. 
"Reid is trying to block effective enforcement measures like this. However, in the midst of this crisis, there's a clear growing consensus in this country for this sort of effective enforcement."
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Police looking for man who allegedly beat man with stick

The Monroe Police Dept. says they are looking for a man they believe is responsible for hitting another man over the head with a large stick during an argument over a cell phone. Assistant Police Chief Don Bartley says the victim was walking out of the laundry room at an apartment complex when he was approached by Christopher Robinson.

"A verbal argument occurred there and the suspect in this case picked up a stick and struck the victim in the head," said Bartley.

Bartley says investigators were able to talk to the victim, 48-year-old Jimmy Atwell, who told them Robinson was mad because because Atwell informed police the suspect had stolen his cell phone.

He says Atwell was hit hard.

"The victim was taken to hospital where his condition continued to worsen," said Bartley.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Robinson with bond set at $50,000. Barley says the case is under investigation.

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Nov. 4th Qualifying one month away

The three day qualifying period for the November 4th election is now one month away. Thus far the US Senate race between the incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy has been an extremely close one according to most polls. LSU Political Science Professor Dr. Wayne Parent says it's a toss up.

"Most outsiders see this in big terms, and in big terms this is the 6th year of and incumbent Democrat," said Parent. "Democrats shouldn't do well in the south, but Senator Landrieu is a strong candidate."

Parent says we can expect the strong campaigning really start to ramp up but the ground work for both Landrieu and Cassidy's platform has already been laid.

"Senator Landrieu is running on her track record..running on Louisiana," said Parent. "Any Republican and Congressman Cassidy is going to run on national politics and run on the Republican brand in the state which is doing quite well."

In the race for the 6th Congressional District, Parent says even though it's majority Republican, former Governor Edwin Edwards will most certainly make the runoff.

"The likelihood that he actually wins the race is less than 50/50 but you don't want to count him out," Parent says. "He's one example where all publicity is good publicity. He's everywhere."

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CABL: Common Core debate likely to be settled in court

We're another day closer to the start of the school year and because of the dispute over Common Core a standardized test is not in place for the upcoming school year. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says a lawsuit needs to be filed, so the judicial system can determine who has constitutional authority over education policy. 

"I think this is an issue of such importance it needs to  be decided by someone independent and that would be the courts," Erwin said.
Erwin says BESE leaders believe they are the ones who should decide what kind of assessment test is used in public schools, but the Jindal administration believes they should be involved in that process. He says a lawsuit to settle this dispute could be filed by BESE. 
"I think there is still some question that's circulating about whether BESE is going to go forward with that itself or maybe a third party that does have standing."
Meanwhile, good government group, the Public Affairs Research Council, has issued a commentary criticizing Governor Jindal for creating a "crisis in education." PAR President Robert Travis Scott says Jindal's actions call into question whether he's a reliable leader. 
"There are a lot of solutions to try and get a contract so that we can do test assessments for the upcoming school year," Scott said. "The problem is that a lot of these have been blocked by the governor's office in a way to use executive over reach to determine educational outcomes."
Scott says Jindal regularly criticizes the federal government for this type of executive over reach. He says court action could be avoided if the governor could demonstrate he has the skills to work with others. 

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Researcher receives grant for potentially cancer-preventing gum

A Shreveport researcher has a grant to help produce a potentially cancer preventing gum. Dr. Cherie-Ann Nathan, with the LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport, received a $50,000 grant from the LSU System's LIFT2 Program.

Nathan says she will use the funds to help produce a gum that contains curcumin.
"It has the potential, I think, to generate a large market opportunity in the prevention of cancer."
Curcumin is a food substance, found in the spice turmeric, that reportedly has cancer-preventing qualities. Nathan says curcumin is in one of the top selling supplements on the market.
"There's been a lot of literature showing that it prevents, not only cancer, but also Alzheimer's and diabetes because it is an anti-oxidant as well."
One problem with curcumin is that it is not absorbed well in the stomach. Nathan hopes this gum will allow for direct absorption of the substance and help prevent head and neck cancers. She says, once the gum is manufactured, they will enroll 16 healthy volunteers for a clinical trial.
"They'll first get the chewing gum.  And then, a few weeks later once the curcumin has been eliminated from their body, they'll get the capsule with the exact same dose.  And we will compare whether we got much higher levels of curcumin with the chewing gum compared to the capsule."
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Donelon meets with State Farm over hurricane deductibles

State Farm has announced the hurricane deductible for home owner policy holders will go up from 2 to 5 percent. Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon met with State Farm officials and requested that they allow policy holders in Louisiana the option to buy back down to the two percent deductible in their policy by paying a higher insurance premium.

"They have done that for their policy holders in Mississippi and I asked, in the interest of fairness, for them to do the same for policy holders in our state."
He says State Farm allowed policy holders in Mississippi to buy back down to the two percent deductible and he wants the same option for policy holders in Louisiana.  Donelon says a typical policy holder with a two percent hurricane deductible on a $150,000 home would pay $3,000 out of pocket before their insurance took effect.
"In the case of a five percent, $7,500 out of pocket before your insurance would kick in."
He says higher hurricane deductibles became prevalent in every coastal state after Hurricane Katrina. State Farm says they are considering Donelon's request.  Donelon says the real solution of this problem is for Congress to enact a bill that creates "Named Storm Deductible Savings Accounts".
"So this higher deductible can be prepared for by policy holders in a pre-tax way instead of an after tax dollar expense."

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Louisiana's unemployment rate back up to 5%

The state's unemployment rate has inched upward for a second consecutive month. 

According to the U-S Labor Department, the state's jobless rate in June was five-percent up from 4.9 percent in May. But the state's unemployment rate is still much lower than it was in June 2013, when it was 6.4 percent.

Another survey shows the state added 25-hundred jobs in June, which is a good number, but it doesn't compare to the 85-hundred jobs added in May.
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Stress easily spreads to others

Don Ames reporting.
According to new research, stress can be passed on to another person as easily as the common cold. Michele Many, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the LSU School of Medicine says people tend to tune in to the moods and feelings of others.

"We are by nature empathetic and driven to support each other," says Many.

Many says it's collectively good for us to be empathetic because when we naturally know how another person is feeling, we can react better to them.

"So if we can sense each others stress levels and anxiety, we can be more responsive and supportive and helpful to each other," said Many.

Many says you shouldn't let yourself be dragged down by someone else's mood as it just spreads the stress.

She says you should first focus on your own wellness, then pull people into that.

"Don't allow people to pull you into their storms, invite them into your calm," Many says.

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Slidell man pays for prostitute with company check while at work

The Slidell Police Department has made an arrest in the strange case of a man who stole a company check to pay for a prostitute while at work. Detective Daniel Seuzeneau says the store manager was investigating a missing company check when he made the discovery. Seuzeneau says video surveillance cameras caught the whole thing.

"It's kinda funny when you initially read it but how someone would think they'd get away with this boggles my mind," said Seuzeneau.

24-year-old Charles West was seen on video talking with a female Monday night around closing time.

Seuzeneau says the two then went into a back room of the business.

"He turned off the lights thinking that would prevent the cameras from seeing what was about to happen," said Seuzeneau. "The video surveillance ended up showing the woman performing oral sex on Mr. West."

He says the tape then shows West taking a company check, forging the manager's signature, and giving it to the woman.

Seuzeneau says Slidell Police were waiting on West when he arrived at work Wednesday morning.

"He was charged with  theft, forgery, and solicitation of a prostitute," said Seuzeneau.

Police are still working to identify of the woman and ultimately she will be charged with prostitution.

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Still no agreement over standardized testing plans

A meeting between Governor Jindal and Education Superintendent John White does not produce an agreement on where to go from here when it comes to having a standardized test in place for the upcoming school year. White says who has the ability to determine which questions are on the test is keeping them from moving forward with testing plans.

"The unfortunate thing is that superintendents, principals, teachers, parents and most importantly students of Louisiana also find themselves caught in the middle of that debate."
This dispute erupted when Governor Jindal used executive authority to keep tests associated with Common Core out of Louisiana. White says BESE leaders believe they have the legal authority to determine the type of standardized test students should take, but the Jindal administration has made it clear they should be involved in that process. 
"Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols shared that she believes the governor and the procurement support team should have a say in the education policy and it's my sense that BESE will not agree with that."
White says legal action may be needed to settle this impasse.
Jindal's office released a statement after the meeting which said it's important the department of education follows state law when it comes to acquiring testing services. The statement made no mention of Common Core or what questions should be on standardized test.


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