The Times-Picayune and NOLA.dot com endores Republican David Vitter for governor. NOLA's editorial staff says Vitter is committed, a resolute chief executive that has a desire to govern and lead on many fronts. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a big deal for Vitter's campaign, who is facing attacks from the three other candidates and supporting groups.
"With the credibility of a newspaper saying that David Vitter is our guy, it ends up being a huge plus for David Vitter," Pinsonat said.
Pinsonat says newspaper endorsements don't guarantee victory on election day, but it's definitely a boost for a candidate that has endured many personal attacks.
"It's an endorsement of not only his candidacy, but also his character, which has been under attack," Pinsonat said.
Republicans Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne have brought up Vitter's past and his involvement in a prostitution scandal. Democrat John Bel Edwards has also questioned whether Vitter is the right leader for Louisiana.
There will be a lot of hype leading up to Saturday’s showdown in Tiger Stadium between 6th ranked LSU and 8th ranked Florida. Players from the two teams were in a twitter war over the summer, over which school can lay claim to D-B-U, which stands for defensive back university. Coach Les Miles doesn’t want see any more trash talking leading up to the game.
"Certainly, there's no reason for Twitter. The game is always played on the filed, not in the media chat rooms. So it would be my guess that our guys would recognize that."
Both teams are undefeated heading into Saturday’s contest. The Gators have allowed just 13 points in their last two SEC games and they are one of the best teams at defending the run. Miles is interested to see if LSU can have success running the football against the Gators.
"I think it's certainly a very competitive match up. They're big, strong, fast guys that you're going to have to use great technique to block. It's going to be a war. Both the offensive line and the defensive line that play against each other on both sides of the ball are talented and very capable."
An achilles heel for LSU has been special teams. This past week they gave up a 96-yard kick off return for a touchdown. Their kicking game has also been flagged on numerous occasions. Miles says they are looking at making personnel changes and kicking the ball in different spots, but in the end it comes down to the players.
"We're really going to bring it to the team because the team's got it get it fixed. If they want to be something special, if they want to play in more significant games than---and very much like this Saturday's game, then they're going to have to correct it."
The State Department of Education released “preliminary” results to Common Core tests Monday, and found that just 22-40 percent of Louisiana students show “mastery” in skills it says are needed for the next grade. The tests were administered to grades 3-8 in the spring. State Superintendent John White says the results are not surprising.
"They are consistent with roughly how students have performed on LEAP tests and NAEP tests in the past," said White.
The results showed that, on average, 37 percent of students are at the needed skill level in English Language Arts, while nearly 30 percent show mastery skills in mathematics.
White says in November they will be releasing specific data from the tests that will show performance on groups of standards for individual students.
"To the standards review committees and to the accountability commission as well as to all districts," said White. "This will show them as to how well statewide each district did with these individual skills."
BESE will vote tomorrow on whether or not Louisiana will adopt the same skill scoring levels as other states, called cut scores, that determine mastery, advanced, basic, approaching basic and unsatisfactory.
White says cut scores are a key point in declaring who did well and who didn’t.
"The students did fine. They did as we might expect them to do," said White. "The cut scores though assign responsibility to us as adults."
A recent poll conducted for WWL-TV and The Advocate shows that less than half of Louisiana African-American voters are in favor of removing or renaming monuments that honor Confederate leaders. The Clarus Research Group survey shows only 46-percent of black respondents support removal of the monuments.
Pollster Ron Faucheux...
"The support level was significantly higher among African-Americans than it was among whites. But even having said that, there was a significant percentage of African-Americans who opposed it as well."
The poll shows 31-percent of African-Americans oppose the removal of the monuments. Overall, only 18-percent of voters support removing or renaming the monuments while 68-percent oppose the move. Faucheux says Louisiana voters are attuned to the issue of Confederate monuments.
"They're interested in the issue and they have opinions about the issue and they are very strongly against making those changes."
Faucheux says he expected a larger number of black voters to be in favor of removing the monuments. He says the poll shows voters are more certain about the Confederate monuments issue than they are about the governor's race.
"At the time we took the survey, there were twice as many people who were undecided on a governor's candidate than they were undecided on the Confederate monuments issues."
State Police is investigating an officer involved shooting in Lake Charles which claimed the life of a male suspect. Sgt. James Anderson says the Lake Charles Police Department responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence early Sunday morning.
"They encountered the suspect's wife and got her to a safe location," says Anderson. "The suspect retrieved a handgun."
Anderson says officers saw the suspect, 44-year-old Kevin Lau, standing in the doorway of the house with a gun.
"It appears at this point that he pointed it at police officers, and would not drop the gun despite commands to do so," said Anderson. "He was subsequently shot."
Anderson says Lau died at a local hospital. No officers were injured in the incident.
The Lake Charles Police Department requested that State Police conduct the investigation into the incident.
"We will conduct a complete investigation and turn those findings over to the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's Office," said Anderson.
Fall is definitely in the air and so are allergies. LSU Health Sciences Center Professor, Dr. Sanjay Kamboj, says ragweed is, by far, the biggest allergy trigger of the season.
He says ragweed plants produce a lot of pollen as autumn gets underway.
"Actually one plant can produce up to billions of pollen and they are mainly responsible for fall allergies."
Kamboj says they are seeing an increase of patients coming in for allergy problems than in years past. He says warm temperatures and high humidity levels help increase pollen production so Louisiana can have a longer pollen season compared to other parts of the country. Kamboj says if you're allergic to ragweed, you are quite familiar with the symptoms.
"Patients can have blocked nose or runny nose, sinus congestion, post nasal drip, watery eyes, and some people can even have itching of the skin."
He says over-the-counter allergy medications, such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin, can help manage symptoms and it's also important to rinse nasal passages with a saline rinse. Kamboj says pollen production peaks daily between 9 and 11AM so it's important to avoid contact at that time.
"So don't try to get fresh air, don't open your windows in the morning. If they have to drive, drive with the windows closed, AC on. Stay inside and try not to do yardwork, wear a mask."
The Student Senate at LSU has passed a resolution asking Facility Services to change the signs on single stall restrooms on campus to read "gender neutral." Matthew Patterson, with Equality Louisiana, says this is a cost effective way of ensuring that all students, faculty and staff feel safe when using the restroom.
"It's not asking for new construction. It's literally not asking for anything other than updating the signs on facilities that are already there," said Patterson.
Patterson says there are several single occupancy bathrooms on campus, designed for people with mobility issues, that are obviously gender neutral facilities but they aren't marked that way.
He says often times transgender people don't feel safe or are denied access to the bathroom of the gender they identify as, because it makes others uncomfortable.
"That is wrong. You should probably be minding your own business in the restroom and not policing who else is using it," said Patterson.
Patterson says this doesn't mean transgender people are trying to make a statement, they are just trying to use the bathroom.
"It's unfortunate that we have to spend so much time talking about people having a safe place to pee because that's something you take for granted," said Patterson.
Voters in Louisiana will have the opportunity to vote on some Constitutional amendments on the October 24th ballot. Robert Scott, President of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, says the ballot will feature four new amendments to the Louisiana Constitution.
Scott says if you know nothing about these amendments, it could be overwhelming.
"It's gobbledy-gook language when you read it on the ballot. If you go into the booth and this is the first time you've faced these amendments, you might very well be confused."
He says this is better than last year when 14 amendments were on the ballot. Scott says Amendment number one is the one that would probably have the most impact for the state. It would create a new transportation fund for the state in addition to the existing one.
"It does not create a new tax or a new revenue. It simply takes money that would have flowed into the rainy day fund and puts it into a transportation fund."
You can find a guide to all four amendments at parlouisiana-dot-org. Scott says Louisiana's Constitution has been changed 181 times since 1974. He encourages voters to do a little research on these amendments before entering the voting booth.
"Get to know what these amendments are about beforehand because they're way down the ballot after you've voted for governor, your state representative and senator, and so on."
The four candidates for Lt. Governor are slated to be at a forum hosted by the Baton Rouge Press Club today. Political Analyst Clancy Dubos says it’s a very close race between the Democrat Kip Holden and Republicans John Young and Billy Nungesser, because they have the most money and name recognition.
“Elbert Guillory really hasn’t made that much of a splash and does not appear to be that much of a factor. Although, it’s certainly foreseeable that this will go to a runoff. I think any two of the top three candidates could make it to the runoff.”
Dubos says the odds favor the only democratic candidate, Kip Holden, entering the runoff. He says the trouble for Nungesser and Young is trying to differentiate themselves from each other because they come from similar backgrounds.
“I think it could go either way. The polls have constantly shown Young slightly ahead but that’s a race where a lot of the support is soft and it could change fairly quickly in the final two to three weeks.”
Dubos says nothing is certain in Louisiana politics, so it’s very difficult to predict how anyone will do. He expects Nungesser and Young to go after each other during the forum.
“I would expect to see John Young and Billy Nungesser butt each other’s records, and each other’s promises and platforms in the final two weeks of the campaign.”
The Saints are now 1-4 on the season after a dismal performance in Philadelphia. The Eagles scored 29 second half points to beat New Orleans 39-17. The Saints turned it over four times, quarterback Drew Brees was sacked five times and New Orleans only ran the ball for 96 yards, while the defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense.
"Really struggled to stay on the field offensively, defensively you get that many plays and pretty soon you begin to wear down," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "We talked about the keys heading into this game, was to control that rushing game, we didn't really compliment each other today."
The Eagles rushed for 186 yards and recorded 34 first downs.
Up next for the Saints, it's a Thursday night home game against Atlanta. The Falcons are 5-0 after winning in overtime over the Washington Redskins.
LSU tried to be as accommodating as possible on Saturday for South Carolina, who was forced to play its home game at Tiger Stadium, because of flooding near their campus. The Tiger band played their fight song and alma mater and the South Carolina flag flew at Tiger Stadium.
But on the field, LSU was not a very good host as a balanced offensive attack led to a 45-24 victory over the Gamecocks.
For once, LSU didn't have to rely on running back Leonard Fournette for all of its offense. Quarterback Brandon Harris threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Malachi Dupre had six grabs for 74 yards and a touchdown, while Travin Dural caught 4 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Fournette missed out on his fourth straight 200-yard plus performance, but he still provided an electrifying moment. On the second play of the 2nd half, Fournette ran through the middle of the South Carolina defense for an 87-yard touchdown run. During that run, Fournette went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season, the fastest in school history.
Fournette finished with 158 yards on 20 carries for the day and didn't play in the 4th quarter.
It was a break out game for freshman running back Derrius Guice. The Baton Rouge native had several nice runs and finished with 161 yards and a touchdown.
LSU's defense played well, but had a couple of blown assignments that led to touchdowns in the 2nd half. South Carolina Quarterback Perry Orth threw 43 and 36 yard TD passes in the 3rd quarter.
The Tigers special teams were not very good again. Trent Domingue sent the opening kick-off out of bounds. In the 2nd quarter, South Carolina's Rashad Fenton returned a kick 96-yards for a touchdown. LSU was also offsides in the 2nd half on a kickoff.
But all and all a good victory for the Tigers, as they now get ready for a big home game against Florida.
State Treasurer John Kennedy says state revenues for the first quarter of this fiscal year are down 13% compared to the first quarter of last year. Kennedy says tax collections from individuals and businesses are down, while sales tax receipts are flat.
“Overall, I’m disappointed. I think we’re starting to see more of the bite from the declining oil revenues, that’s part of it.”
Kennedy says the national economy and the fact that the legislature raised taxes 800 million dollars last spring are some other factors in play with Louisiana’s declining revenue. He says you can’t raise taxes without having economic implications and the state is still spending more money than we take in.
“The longer we delay dealing with this, the worse it’s going to get. We’ve got to come up with a plan to deal with it without gutting higher education like a fish.”
Kennedy believes the Jindal administration created much of the revenue problem and it has a moral obligation to deal with it. He says Jindal should at least try to come up with a plan to deal with the reality right now.
“These are not good revenue numbers. You cannot put lipstick on a pig here, it’s still a pig. And while I hope it doesn’t happen, it could get worse.”
After a lengthy investigation, authorities in St. Martin Parish have busted a cockfighting ring in Breaux Bridge. Major Ginny Higgins says three men were arrested for their part in cockfighting and were booked into the St. Martin Parish Correctional Center.
“Investigators launched an investigation into that allegation. They were able to obtain a warrant, they executed the warrant and when they did they arrested three gentleman in connection with the cockfighting.
Higgins says animal cruelty is taken very seriously. She says on the property authorities found and confiscated 48 roosters and over 300 hens and chicks.
“They were taken into custody by the St. Martin Parish Animal Control.”
Higgins says 30-year-old Dallas Grossie of Butte La Rose and 28-year old Brandon Cormier of Breaux Bridge are both charged with 24 counts of Cruelty to Animals and 24 counts of Cockfighting. She says 50-year-old Patrick Stelly of Washington is charged with 48 counts of Cruelty to Animals and 48 counts of Cockfighting.
“You look at the charges, one of the gentleman was charged with 48 charges. That’s because there is one count for each rooster that he had in his possession.”
A television ad targeting Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards has been released by the Republican Governors Association. In the commercial, the RGA tries to link Edwards to President Barack Obama.
Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this is a strategy that has worked for Republicans for the last several years.
"Republican run against Barack Obama and the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she is, like Mary Landrieu, it's not about them it's about their ties to Barack Obama."
The ad claims Edwards has repeatedly supported President Obama and that he plans to raise taxes. The RGA is reportedly spending $1 million to spread this message across the state. Pinsonat expects that Edwards' negative ratings will increase as more people view this commercial.
"He will lose a lot of his white support that appears right now because voters don't know a lot about John Bel Edwards, but they're getting ready to find out a lot about him."
In a statement, Edwards says this is a last ditch effort to stop the only candidate for governor that will truly expose and change Governor Jindal's broken policies. Pinsonat feels Edwards will fight the ads by focusing on what he plans to do as governor to make things better in Louisiana.
"What's wrong with that is Louisiana voters, a vast majority of white voters, they don't look at what's happening locally. They're turned off by Democrats at the national level and what Barack Obama's doing with national Democrats."
David La Certe has resigned as secretary for the state Department of Veterans Affairs. La Certe did not provide a reason and neither did the governor's office, who named Thomas Enright as interim secretary. But Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera says his office has investigated the department and its handling of the state's five nursing homes for vets and uncovered problems.
"What we found was, when the homes would do their quality assurance reviews, they didn't always look at those high-risk areas and the department did not know that because they weren't collecting the data," Purpera said.
It's been reported there have been complaints about physical and sexual abuse inside the Veterans homes, and excessive drinking by some of the residents. Purpera would not comment on specific allegations, but said their report found 531 areas of noncompliance.
"About half the time when they had a deficiency they would note, about half the time they didn't have an action plan to follow up on it and correct the deficiency," Purpera said.
Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street also says they are investigating the state Department of Veterans Affairs, but would not go into anymore details. Purpera, who appeared on the Jim Engster Show, says they are still investigating the state agency as well.
"My auditors are continuing to look at some things there at the department and some of the homes," Purpera said.
During Saturday's game versus LSU and the Gamecocks in Tiger Stadium, the Red Cross will be on hand collecting donations for flood relief efforts in South Carolina. The game was moved to Baton Rouge while Columbia continues recover.
Nancy Malone with the Red Cross in Louisiana says LSU has always stepped up in disasters.
"So the Red Cross will be out there, we'll be outside the stadium before the game at the gates," said Malone. "We'll also have six vehicles so if you want to drop by and drop off your donation we'll make sure it gets where it needs to be."
Malone says the American Red Cross is working hard on a massive relief operation in South Carolina -- making sure people have shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on.
She says devastation like this is personal to LSU fans who know what it's like to deal with flood waters and the destruction that goes with it.
"We're a caring group down here in Louisiana and everybody wants to help," says Malone. "So this is an easy way to do it. You can write out your check in advance, make it out to the American Red Cross and note South Carolina floods on it so we can get it directly to them."
She says Tiger fans have always helped when our friends needed it.
"We've seen it with baseball fans before Oklahoma's Super Regional after there were tornadoes there. Similarly when there were tornadoes in Alabama during a game," said Malone. "We also did it at Tiger Stadium after Hurricane Isaac."
Malone says in addition to donating on the LSU campus Saturday, you can always make a gift to Red Cross disaster relief online at redcross.org or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Early voting for the October 24th election begins Saturday and runs through October 17th, excluding Sunday. Secretary of State Spokesperson Meg Casper says early voting is becoming quite popular among voters.
"I think it's just because people are busy on election Saturdays and so early voting gives them the option to go and vote on their time and on their schedule."
Early voting will be available from 8:30AM to 6PM daily at registrar of voters offices across the state and other select locations. Casper says there's a lot on this ballot in addition to the governor's, lt. governor's, and attorney general's races.
"All of the state legislators are up for re-elction, there are four statewide constitutional amendments on this ballot, and there are 73 propositions in about 27 parishes statewide."
She says you can go online to geauxvote-dot-com to find out where to vote and what's exactly on your ballot. Casper expects early voting for this election to be busy.
"I think people just need to be prepared for a little bit longer lines than normal, this is a highly anticipated election. And don't forget to bring your photo ID with you so you can get through the line quickly."
State Police announces they will use the Louisiana Department of Transportation’s website, twitter accounts, and smart phone app to relay information about traffic crashes, congestion and roadway construction. Trooper Dustin Dwight says LSP currently uses the Nixle alert system to provide notifications but now they’ll work even more closely with DOTD to give traffic updates.
“I think it’s a benefit for Louisiana motorists. This new system and the partnership with DOTD really allows more useful ways for us to get out traffic notices to the traveling public and I think it’s going to be a significant improvement.”
Dwight says State Police and DOTD are teaming up to give drivers a more unified message about what’s going on in your specific region. He says drivers can see real time traffic updates on the “Way to Geaux” app, which is available in the iTunes App store and Google Play.
“This Way to Geaux application can actually look at your GPS location, tell where you are and then give you live feedback on whether there is construction, a closure in that area, in your vicinity.”
Dwight says DOTD has eight twitter accounts for different regions across the state to give the most current updates. He says motorists can additionally receive quick access to traffic conditions by visiting 511LA.org.
“The benefits of just going to the 511LA.org, you can pre-plan a trip and look and see that traffic is backed up in Slidell, maybe I need to utilize an alternate route.”
To make South Carolina feel as much at home as possible when playing in Tiger Stadium, LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland will play USC’s fight song tomorrow. LSU Band Director Roy King says the Tiger Band is full of talented musicians and hopes they can play it as well as USC’s band performs it.
“It’s very similar to other music that we play but every school has its own way of playing their own fight song. We’re listening to their recording and we’re trying to play it as well as they play it.”
King says we’re going to play South Carolina’s alma mater, "We Hail Thee Carolina," during the pregame show before the LSU alma mater. He says the Tiger Band felt this was an appropriate gesture considering the circumstances.
“I’m so proud of my students here at LSU and their willingness to be here to support all our fans and in this case all the South Carolina fans, as well.”
King says they’re excited to get the chance to plan for an extra home game. He says many students in the Tiger Band had plans to visit family or be out of town but every member agreed to play in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.
“We have to sort of deal with these things. Every time in the past this kind of thing has occurred, the Tiger Band has answered the bell and this weekend it’s their turn.”
Three people are dead and two others seriously injured from an explosion and fire at the Williams Partners' natural gas facility in the Terrebonne Parish town of Gibson. State Police spokesperson Evan Harrell says the workers were performing maintenance on the facility, which was not operational at the time and did not have gas flowing through the system.
"We don't know what actually caused the explosion," Harrell said."Everything right now is going to be under the investigation of what led up to the explosion and what actually caused the explosion at that facility."
Two of the people killed have been identified, 40-year-old Samuel Brinlee of Berwick and 36-year-old Casey Ordoyne of Larose. They worked for Danos, which is a construction company in Larose.
Harrell says the two workers who were seriously hurt are now in the care of doctors who treat burn victims.
"We are talking about serious, life threatening injuries," Harrell said.
One of the victim's was transferred to Baton Rouge General's burn unit and is listed in critical condition.
"Anytime you have something like this, you always have to think about those workers and the families of those workers and what they are going through," Harrell said.