Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Louisiana lags in technology
Louisiana ranks No. 44 - only ahead of Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, and West Virginia. The 2007 State New Economy Index, follows up on its two previous reports issued in 1999 and 2002, using 26 indicators to assess how states are transforming from industrial economic models. (The PDF of the report is 92 pages long and 18 MBs.)
Iberia audit becomes official today
LUS to hold public input session
Update: The public input session will be held March 8 at 5:30 in the City Hall Atrium.
Champion buys Versailles Centre
La Niña arrival could mean more 2007 hurricanes
NOAA will continue to monitor the developing La Niña conditions, and issues its detailed Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook in May.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Happy Birthday, Henry
To commemorate the occasion, at 11 a.m., today, St. Martinville dignitaries will erect a plaque next to a bust of the poet, in the shade of the Evangeline Oak. A festival reenacting the arrival of the Acadians in St. Martinville will be held on March 17. For more information contact the Acadian Memorial center. Happy Birthday, Henry, and 200 more.
Showdown at the Top 28
From 21 to none
"Today's a vindication," Odom said outside the courthouse, flanked by his wife, daughter and several supporters. "I haven't done anything but try to do good for the people of this state, and the next campaign will prove that."
Odom told The Advocate:
"If you're not guilty of anything, how can you worry?"
Michot asks state to halt horse barn demolition
Michot says he does not have enough information to make an informed decision and hopes UL President Ray Authement will give the public more time to devise a plan for saving the structure, which was the mission of a small group of Save the Horse Farm members who traveled to Baton Rouge Friday, Feb. 23, to address the Board of Supervisors for the UL System. Authement asked the board for permission to tear down the barn, but Save the Horse Farm members took issue with what they called UL's "hasty attempt to bring this issue up during the holiday week of Mardi Gras when the public is otherwise attending the ongoing festivities and/or [is] out of town on vacation." The group is exploring ways to protect and restore the barn — which they claim was built in the early 1900s — for functional use.
Saints re-sign Hollis Thomas
Signing period for NFL free agents starts in three days.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Odom trial gets under way
Read The Times-Picayune's coverage, as well as The Advocate's.
Update: The judge tosses Odom's case
Williams to run for District 44 seat
New Orleans Journal is a must read
Down but not out
Save the Horse Farm has been fighting since mid-2005 to preserve the 100-acre tract on Johnston Street as greenspace. Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel says he's interested in acquiring the land and eventually developing it into a park. He'd also like to board the city's mounted police unit in the barn, which may date back to the early 1900s.
The group has a Tuesday meeting with Durel and is attempting to set up a meeting with Authement this week. Authement says the barn is falling apart and has become a liability issue for the university.
St. Martin Parish declared major disaster area after tornadoes
The same storm system that spawned the tornadoes hit other areas of the state, and President Bush has also declared Orleans and Jefferson Parish as disaster areas.
Friday, February 23, 2007
ASO spring events
FEMA flood maps, round two
Michot and Robideaux's battle cry
In a recent letter that has gone out to Lafayette area residents soliciting donations of up to $10,000 - for which donors will be awarded a seat on the committee's advisory panel - Michot writes the committee will promote "quality leadership, clean campaigns and a return to common sense in state government." He also notes that "the outcome of this election has very real, unusually high-stakes consequences for our area. Please give us the tools and resources we need to do battle for Lafayette and Acadiana."
Rock tour of the year coming to Louisiana
It's official: The Police will be playing The New Orleans Arena on June 30. Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers have buried the hatchet and are launching what promises to be the biggest tour of the year. If you're interested in going, you're gonna have to be quick on your toes; the first tour dates sold out within minutes of going on sale. Visit the official Police reunion Web site for announcements of on-sale dates and times for New Orleans tickets.
If it was the Van Halen reunion tour with David Lee Roth you've been waiting for, looks like that trainwreck isn't even leaving the station.
Son of former UL prez named to system board
Along with Renee A. Lapeyrolerie of New Orleans and attorney Paul G. Aucoin of Thibodaux, Rougeou is being sworn in at today's (Feb. 23) regular meeting of the board. Ironically, among the newly-constituted board's first order of business is consideration of a request from UL Lafayette officials for permission to tear down the historic barn on the university's Johnston Street horse farm property. The dentist, son of former UL President Clyde L. Rougeou, Ray Authement's predecessor, lived on the farm with his family and likely has a sentimental connection to the barn.
A small group of Save the Horse Farm members is traveling to Baton Rouge today to convince the board's facilities planning committee to give the community activists more time to study options for preserving the structure, which may date back to 1903, rather than put the issue to a vote of the board.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
LCG wins fiber battle
The Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that issuing $125 million in bonds to fund the project would violate the Local Government Fair Competition Act. LCG's plan was challenged by Lafayette resident Elizabeth Naquin, a mysterious plaintiff who has repeatedly filed suit against LCG and Lafayette Utilities System but never appeared in court.
Though expensive in terms of legal fees — local government thus far has spent north of $3 million on the project, most on the legal challenges — the almost three-year delay will actually save LCG $4 million to $5 million because the price of technology and equipment has come down. "Because of the legal battle we're going to save money," City-Parish President Joey Durel says.
"At the same time, the technology has gotten 10 times faster," notes LUS Director Terry Huval. He says interest rates in that time period have remained south of 5 percent, another factor lending viability to the original business plan.
Huval says among the first order of business will be a trip to New York to visit with bond rating agencies. LCG will then decide where to lay the initial fiber infrastructure and should be offering Internet, phone and cable service to its first customers within 18 months of securing its financing.
Durel maintains that the project will put Lafayette in a unique position as a national leader in broadband deployment. "When we started this project, America was 12th in broadband deployment, then we were 14th, then 16th," Durel says. "I saw something last week that we are now 20th in the world."
Durel is far from the only person still singing fiber's praises. At January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell challenged the technology industry to deploy more fiber-to-the-home, according to a Jan. 9 online story in the Wall Street Journal. He said despite the buzz around the "digital home," the concept hasn't caught on in part because broadband in the country isn't mature enough yet. He said to get faster broadband, customers need fiber-speed network connections to the home. "I challenge the telecom industry to accelerate the deployment of fiber-to-the-home," Dell said.
Save the Horse Farm heads to Baton Rouge
UL Lafayette officials are on the agenda asking the Board of Supervisors for the UL System's permission "to demolish the barn at the Equine Center."
"Save the Horse Farm strongly disagrees with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's hasty attempt to bring this issue up during the holiday week of Mardi Gras when the public is otherwise attending the ongoing festivities and/or [is] out of town on vacation," the group writes in a press release. The group will ask the board's permission to explore ways to protect and restore the barn, whose age is in dispute, for functional use. The university estimates the barn was constructed in 1946, but Acadiana businessman/environmentalist Harold Schoeffler says his great uncle, Matthew Mucha, built the barn around 1903 for his wife after they moved to Louisiana from Nebraska.
Save the Horse Farm claims the university has allowed the barn to deteriorate. Its principal founders, Danica Adams and Elizabeth "EB" Brooks, are planning to attend Friday's meeting, as is Kolleen Verlander. Verlander is part of the nine-member board of directors for the Historic Preservation Commission of Lafayette. In 2002 she saved the 106-year-old Denbo-Montgomery home from demolition by purchasing it and moving it from downtown Lafayette to Girard Park Drive in six pieces. It now operates as a successful bed and breakfast.
"The barn may be in disrepair, but that does not mean it needs to be torn down," Verlander says. "We're at a point in Lafayette's history where we need to look at preservation, not tearing down, so that this city can celebrate its past."
The group is also rallying the support of people, most of whom have a connection to the university, who either grew up on the horse farm or spent time there. Some have already offered financial support for preservation of the barn. Verlander says the group has located at least one person whose history on the property is more consistent with Schoeffler's estimates of its age.
Because of Save the Horse Farm's efforts, City-Parish President Joey Durel has expressed interest in purchasing the property, transforming it into a public park and housing the city police department's horses in the old barn. Save the Horse Farm is exploring funding for such a project.
(photo courtesy of www.savethehorsefarm.com)
Last chance for Morgan and Lafaye show
A closing reception will be held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts (101 W. Vermilion in downtown Lafayette) this Saturday, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Both Morgan and Lafaye will lead tours and discussions of their exhibitions. A silent auction for a piece by both artists will also end that evening at 7:30 p.m.
Rosy prospect for hurricane-hit gardens
I was convinced that the rose deserved to be widely available and enjoyed by gardeners. It's disease resistance, thornless stems and colorful displays of bright, pink flowers along with a graceful vining form make it a logical choice. The lush growth of her thornless climber rose is a testament to its toughness and status as a true survivor.Welsh propagated the cutting and the newly named Peggy Martin roses are now for sale at five nurseries as a fund-raiser for restoring hurricane damaged gardens.
LITE Center UK
Opened last Spring, LITE is a $27 million state of the art supercomputing and data visualization center, set up to serve government, university research, and private industry. LITE's executive director and chief scientist is Dr. Carolina Cruz, who became one of the co-inventors of the CAVE Virtual Reality Environment while working on her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the mid-90s.
Results of investigation into fatal Hurricane Rita evacuation released
A synopsis of the NTSB's report and subsequent recommendations can be found at www.ntsb.gov, under "Board Meetings."
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
French provincial cuisine coming downtown
The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and plans to also cater to a late-night crowd with eclectic music and a limited menu of hors d'oeuvres.
Russo Ad Group purchased the building in January 2006 and completed its renovation last May. The 7,472-square-foot building also houses Gallery R, where the agency displays art for ArtWalk and related special events downtown. BoCo on the Parc, which is being designed by Lafayette architect David Courville, will occupy 2,750 square feet on the first floor. Russo says a second floor is being added for the restaurant — another 1,500 square feet under roof and 1,000 square feet of terrace space.
Ultimate date movie at Bayou Bijou
Salon.com sees Louisiana turning red
If Louisiana once provided the Democrats' silver lining in cloudier moments, it is perhaps fitting that this most contrarian of states is now trending away from Democrats at the very moment they have regained majorities in both chambers of Congress, among governors and in the state legislatures. What's more, it is ironic that Hurricane Katrina -- the event that finally demolished the claims of governing competence long advanced by George W. Bush and national Republicans -- has accelerated the collapse of the state's Democrats.
Whether she's driving with her newborn son on her lap, nearly dropping him while walking, or partying it up with Paris Hilton, Spears just can't stop making headlines these days.
Update: Britney's on the loose! (12:40 am)
Saints designate Charles Grant as franchise player
Since he's only 28 years old, if Grant has another good year and stays injury-free, a long-term contract is probably in the cards.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Reggie named top wedding photographer in world
Reggie moved to Lafayette from Crowley in 1980 and began pioneering a documentary style of photography he calls "wedding photojournalism." He relocated to Atlanta in 1986, and he and his team of photographers have covered more than 1,700 weddings in this documentary style, which captures the event without posing or prompting.
Reggie, who continues to shoot weddings in his native Acadiana, has just returned from Washington, D.C., where he photographed the wedding of Chris Heinz and Sasha Lewis. Chris is Teresa Heinz Kerry's son and U.S. Sen. John Kerry's stepson. Though his list of clients reads like a Who's Who of celebrities and public figures (Oprah Winfrey called him "the best in the business"), Reggie says such high profile clients are only a small part of his portfolio.
Two years ago Reggie was featured in a BBC documentary that followed the world's top five wedding photographers on real wedding assignments.
State of the City-Parish Address on A.O.C.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel's third annual State of the City-Parish Address, which was given Wednesday, February 14, 2007, will air on the Acadiana Open Channel on the following dates.
Friday 2/16/2007, 12:00 PM, Channel 15
Mardi Gras mania
Over at Cajun Field, Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette will run every day through Mardi Gras. There's a carnival midway, food and 24 bands providing music – with the likes of Lil' Nathan, The Molly Ringwalds, Jamie Bergeron, Terry & The Zydeco Bad Boys, CajuNation and even a Battle of the Bands competition. Admission is free to the festival, but parking is $10.
Breaux still bringing in coastal money to Louisiana
Amid increased speculation that Breaux might be interested in running for governor, the continued success of the Breaux Act – on an issue so crucial to Louisiana's future – is a feather in Breaux's cap.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Cecil Picard passes away
Tyron Picard made this statement on behalf of the Picard family:
After a mighty fight against a heartbreaking disease, we are sad to announce that our beloved father, husband, friend and State Superintendent of Education, Cecil J. Picard died this afternoon, Thursday, February 15, 2007. In his final days he was surrounded by our family and his closest friends who all knew of his love for the state of Louisiana and especially its children. As a family, we ask that the public respect our privacy as we mourn his loss. We will soon release the details of the funeral arrangements and hope that all who loved him will join us in remembering this great educator and statesman.
Miami Haitians call for Creole immersion classes
"It was a little bit of a controversy. Creole is more of a language of — I don't want to say peasant — but of the working class in Haiti."
Morningside is offering Creole to kindergarten and first-graders, but at another school in Broward County with a seventy-five percent Haitian student body, principal Jacquelyne Hoy defends her decision to teach only standard French.
"When you think of French, you think of education, sophistication, culture."
It would serve Miami's Haitian population well to observe south Louisiana's struggle to keep Cajun and Creole French alive. Without Cajun and Creole spoken as a living language we lose our connection to our past, and slowly, what is authentic about Acadiana, or Little Haiti, will become a caricature of our heritage. Culture is imbued in language.
IberiaBank makes historic $100 million investment in SMHA
IberiaBank and Southern Mutual Help Association have a long history of working together to help end poverty. The first time they collaborated, in 1989, the bank pledged $50,000 in loans for housing to rural self-help organizations under SMHA's wing. The relationship was a good match: the low-interest loans guaranteed by SMHA rarely defaulted, and people without the economic wherewithal to put a down payment on a house suddenly found themselves first-time home owners. In 2000, SMHA created a partner nonprofit, Southern Mutual Financial Services Inc., as a community development financial institution. IberiaBank pledged $10 million to SMFS on Aug. 25, 2005, four days before Hurricane Katrina hit.
Thirty-seven years of experience in developing housing for the poor put SMHA in a unique position to move swiftly following the storms, and it immediately began helping Louisiana communities rebuild through private funding. That success led to IberiaBank's latest investment. "It is a blessing to have businesses that care, and IberiaBank is a shining example of the best," says SMHA Executive Director Lorna Bourg. "I believe theirs to be the largest investment by a bank in a not-for-profit community development corporation in Louisiana's history."
Downtown convenience store opens
Retail sales soar 15 percent in 2006
Durel believes that factor may have permanently expanded the retail base, which should pay dividends for years to come, but he predicts smaller increases and a possible leveling off over the next few years as rebuilding abates. In other words, expectations for sustaining this level of growth are simply unrealistic.
Even before the storms, however, sales in the parish had been climbing steadily — albeit by much smaller margins — since 2002. In fact, minus a couple of hiccups, they've be on the rise since 1989, according to the Lafayette Parish School Board's Sales Tax Division.
According to The Louisiana Economic Outlook: 2007 and 2008, the Lafayette area took in about 34,336 evacuees after the 2005 storms, and about 4 percent, or 8,960, have remained in the community. The publication's co-authors, economists Loren Scott and James Richardson, derived those figures from postal records.
Sales at mid-year 2006 were actually outpacing 2005 by 25 percent but began to taper off in the last few months — the possible result of displaced people returning home or relocating elsewhere. December's sales, in fact, were down slightly, falling from $499 million in 2005 to $492 million last year.
Durel says retail sales increases since 2002 indicate Lafayette's economy was expanding before the hurricanes accelerated the pace. "People were moving into Lafayette before the storms, and the storms just exposed what Lafayette had to offer to a lot of people and brought a lot of positive attention to our area," he says.
Pine Leaf Boys release new album
The album was recorded in Lafayette at La Louisianne Studios and is the band's second release for traditional folk label Arhoolie Records.
Last year, the up and coming Lafayette quintet was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered and on the cover of New Orleans' Offbeat Magazine. In its Jazzfest preview, Offbeat called the Pine Leaf Boys "one of the most talented aggregations to emerge in some time with Creole fiddler Cedric Watson and two progeny from accordion building families, Blake Miller (bass) and Wilson Savoy (accordion). Their auspicious debut is not only true to the roots but has the balanced blend veterans shoot for."
Gulf Coast's recovery is a mixed bag
Industry and manufacturing are recovering quicker than small businesses, and Scott points to major construction projects in New Orleans, underway and in the planning stages, that could lead to long-term recovery.
The 120-page report, "Advancing in the Aftermath IV: Tracking the Recovery from Katrina and Rita," is Scott's fourth and final installment of a study to provide benchmarks for the recovery of the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
A quick response to tornadoes
All Acadiana VOAD members, which includes private groups and non-profit agencies committed to disaster and recovery, are encouraged to attend. UW of Acadiana and the Red Cross founded the local VOAD in 2001 to streamline response to disasters in the area.
Tuesday's weather damaged homes and businesses throughout Acadiana, including the cities of Breaux Bridge, New Iberia and Parks. While a disaster has not yet been declared, VOAD plans to help organize resources, volunteers and recovery efforts. For more information, contact Sarah Berthelot at UW of Acadiana at (337) 706-1221.
The kids of Katrina and their cameras
So how can the media effectively continue to tell a story after the initial impact?
CNN's Soledad O'Brien may found a novel way to bring citizen journalism to the forefront of the national news and with fresh sets of eyes. In order to keep the national attention on New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina, O'Brien is enlisting the help of the city's youth and filmmaker Spike Lee. O'Brien has handed out DV cameras to New Orleans teenagers still living with the effects of Katrina, so they can tell their own stories. For future air times of these stories, see O'Brien's "American Morning" page at CNN.
Waste company eyes Weeks Island salt cavern
CCS has facilities in Morgan City, Port Fourchon, Intercoastal City, Cameron, Venice and Theodore, Ala. They collect waste from offshore oil exploration and production companies, which currently is treated in their Morgan City facility. Currently, the waste, including--drilling mud, completion fluids, sludge from tank bottoms and produced water is separated into solids and liquids. The solids are shipped to landfills where they are used as cover for household and industrial garbage. Liquids are disposed of in an injection well.
The proposal to dispose of the entire waste stream in a salt cavern is a technologically advanced system, says CCS Director of Engineering Rob Moseley. "This is the best and most secure disposal of E&P waste on the market. It's better for the environment," he says. CCS plans to ship the waste by barge to Weeks Island, where they will slurry it with salt water then pump it into the cavern. Moseley anticipates disposing of 150,000 to 200,000 barrels of waste a month.
The cavern, with a capacity for an estimated 11.6 million barrels, is located in the same salt dome as Morton Salt and the former Weeks Island Strategic Petroleum Reserve facility. The cap of the Weeks Island salt dome rises to the surface of the island, and ground water was starting to dissolve the exposed salt, causing a fissure or fracture in the dome. The Department of Energy felt that problems could arise from the fracture, according to Joe Ball, director of state Office of Conservation's Injection and Mining Division. The SPR cavern once had a capacity of 72 million barrels of crude oil. The SPR site was decommissioned in 1999 and the crude oil was piped to two other salt domes, the Texas Big Hill site and and Bayou Choctaw south of Baton Rouge.
Once the oil was piped out of the SPR facility, the Department of Energy stabilized the empty mine by filling it with brine, which was created by dissolving salt from deep in the salt dome, leaving a cavern. It is this cavern that CCS is proposing to use to store waste.
Aside from the integrity of the salt dome, other concerns involve the content of the waste. While the chemical content of the oil-laced sludge, brine, and drilling fluids is technically hazardous waste, a loophole in federal law allows it to be categorized as non-hazardous and therefore exempt from the Louisiana Hazardous Waste Regulations and the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
CCS plans to file for an application the first week of March. The process will include public hearings for comment in Iberia and St. Mary parishes, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
John Breaux joins LHC Group
Since leaving Congress in 2004, Breaux has been working with the Washington lobbying firm Patton Boggs. While in the U.S. Senate, he was a leading authority on healthcare policy, chairing National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare in 1998. More recently, he has become a leading proponent for reforming Louisiana's public healthcare system. Breaux fills the vacancy created by LHC board member Patrick Malloy's resignation last year.
Hearing on SBA's Rita and Katrina loans in Washington, D.C. today
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Local docs buying out Heart Hospital partner
Though it did not yet disclose terms of the deal, MedCath Corp. says the two parties have signed a letter of intent in which the local physicians, who currently own 49 percent of the hospital, will own 100 percent of it. Pending a definitive agreement and satisfaction of other conditions, the terms of the transaction will be disclosed — in about 90 days.
Included in the local group of physician owners are primarily cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists, among them Drs. Ed Nagem, Edgar Feinberg, David Baker, and Jon Leleux.
Heart Hospital of Lafayette serves patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. The 32-bed hospital has two operating suites, two heart catheterization labs and an 11-bed heart emergency department. MedCath, which has interest in 11 hospitals, focuses primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
In September MedCath finalized the sale of its interest in Tucson Heart Hospital to Carondelet Health Network. Carondelet acquired MedCath's 59 percent stake in that facility for $40.7 million.
NY Times says to waive Stafford Act for Gulf coast
Yet somehow the Bush administration has not found it necessary to forgive the local match for Gulf Coast states after the double-whammy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, except for costs associated with debris removal and some emergency services -- despite the fact that the two storms wreaked roughly $6,700 worth of damage per capita in Louisiana. This inaction is particularly surprising, given that such a large proportion of the damage can be attributed to the failure of the federal levees that were supposed to protect the New Orleans area.
The editorial concludes by adding:
Last week a group of Democratic senators led by Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, sent a letter urging President Bush to make this change, however belatedly. They called that step "not only prudent, but vital to the recovery."
We agree. And if President Bush won't do it, Congress should legislate the change.
Easton: "I'm not a child, I'm not a boy."
I will not stop saying what I believe to be the truth. I will not cease doing what I believe to be the right thing. I'm not a child, I'm not a boy. I'm an adult human being and can't be threatened or cowed or humiliated into shutting my mouth when it comes to the children of my community.
Read the entire letter in a PDF format.
Monday, February 12, 2007
City Council to vote on pet limit
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote tomorrow on placing a limit on the number of pets residents can keep in their yards. Councilman Bruce Conque has introduced the ordinance which will make it illegal for city residents to "keep, maintain or harbor outdoors on the property more than four dogs, or more than six cats, or a total of six dogs and cats." Conque, who modeled the ordinance after a similar law in Shreveport, says the restriction is a "good neighbor issue" and was brought to his attention by a constituent who found out a lady moving into his neighborhood planned to bring 15 to 20 dogs with her.
Conque notes the ordinance does not apply to any animals that are kept indoors. "You can have 30 cats, if it's inside a residence," he says. The law also provides an exception for a litter of puppies or kittens for up to five months following birth. Another provision allows anyone wishing to own more animals a way to apply for an exemption, provided they show they have ample space and the animals are not a nuisance to neighbors. Conque's ordinance comes on the heels of another city law, passed last year, which allows the city's animal control division to fine pet owners whose yards produce "offensive odors" up to $250. If it passes, Conque's ordinance would be enforced by animal control picking up animals deemed to be in violation.
Congratulations to Louisiana Grammy winners
Savoy to sing for Valentines
Either way, fear not. Ann Savoy and her friends are getting together to perform love songs at the Bourques Social Club in Scott (1012 Saint Mary St.), starting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Scheduled performers include Anya and Richard Burgess, Jane Vidrine and Joel Savoy.
Teche Ridge plans expand
Friday, February 09, 2007
Reggie Bush & Joe McKnight
The L.A. Times is reporting that USC is investigating whether its football program violated NCAA recruiting violations in landing John Curtis High School tailback Joe McKnight out of New Orleans, regarded by many as this year's top high school football recruit. McKnight announced Wednesday he would be attending USC over LSU. He told reporters at the announcement that part of what finalized his decision was a phone conversation he had with both USC coach Pete Carroll and former USC star tailback Reggie Bush, in which they put his mind at ease about USC possibly being sanctioned by the NCAA for possible violations regarding gifts that were given to Bush's family while he was at USC.
NCAA rules prohibit former university athletes from being involved in recruiting high school players. McKnight now says he misspoke during the press conference and that he never was put on the phone with Bush. It seems unlikely that anything will come of the McKnight issue, even though that isn't stopping LSU fans from hoping for his release. However, this does re-raise the question of whether Bush's family did receive improper gifts - an issue the NCAA is yet to rule on.
1 more day to weigh in
For more information, or to take the survey, visit louisianaspeaks.org
Humane Society sues Amazon over cockfighting magazines
Cockfighting appears to be on its last legs in New Mexico …
In the United States, cockfighting is only legal in New Mexico and Louisiana.
Yesterday, the Humane Society of the United States filed suit against Amazon for selling cockfighting magazines – namely The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock. HSUS claims Amazon is in violation of federal animal cruelty laws. A third magazine aimed at cockfighters, Grit and Steel, was not named in the lawsuit, nor were other materials about cockfighting sold on Amazon. John Goodwin, an HSUS spokesman, says in recent years Grit and Steel has altered its content and no longer promotes illegal cockpits, making it difficult to argue that it promotes cockfighting in places where it's illegal.
Verna Dowd, the owner and editor of The Feathered Warrior, told the Associated Press:
"The Humane Society are crazy people … They want total control, evidently, over everything people do or think or says, or anything. I don't know what's wrong with them."
"We're not trying to get them to stop things that we simply disagree with," Goodwin says. "What we're trying to do is to get them to stop selling things that help facilitate the breaking of the law. When they're running advertisements for people that are selling illegal cockfighting pits in states where it's banned, when they're selling birds for the expressed purpose of fighting - where it states their fighting ability in the advertisement and it says, 'We ship worldwide' when in fact transporting an animal over state lines or for foreign export for an animal fighting venture is illegal - then they're going beyond any sort of conduct that would be First Amendment-protected and getting into the realm of helping people break the law. That's the issue. This is not about what's controversial. This is about what's legal and what is illegal."
Amazon told the AP it will continue selling the magazines.
Diggin' Dick Dale
Some four years after its close, the sign from the Rinky-Dink Dancehall still hangs by the Blue Moon Saloon's stage. Last night, it stopped Dick Dale dead in his tracks in the middle of his performance of "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Speechless, Dale stared at the sign for a few seconds before he could compose his thoughts. Before hitting it big and packing large venues, Dale's first gig was at a tiny California ice cream and coffee shop named the Rinky-Dink Ice Cream parlor.
Dale's incredible performance was likely one of the loudest ever at the Moon's back porch, with Dale and his bassist and drummer ripping through his surf rock originals, covering "Fever," Johnny Cash and playing odes to Louis Armstrong and the troops (via the night's closer "Amazing Grace"). Between songs, Dale injected anecdotes from his many years of touring and flirted with nearly every lady in the audience, warning them if he wasn't chewing up to calm him down, they'd be in trouble.
Gazing at The Dink's woodcut sign, Dale pondered there must be some bigger force drawing him to play here and "… It's not just what I heard about the women."
Lafayette Middle School pepper-spray incident making statewide news
A police officer used pepper spray to break up a fight between two eighth-grade girls at Lafayette Middle School yesterday, sparking a controversy that's already being picked up by statewide news outlets. The Times-Picayune carried this AP report this morning, which recounts how an officer on school patrol sprayed the girls, who were reportedly fighting over a basketball. The students then had to be treated by an ambulance crew.
Lafayette Middle School principal Rick Poulan said he will recommend that both girls be expelled from the school.
A number of parents are outraged by the incident. Lafayette Middle School parent Deirdre Rideaux has a sixth-grader at the school.
"That's very scary," she said. "Pulling them apart with force is OK, but pepper spray? No, I don't think so."
Thursday, February 08, 2007
It's story time
Hosted by KRVS 88.7 FM, the StoryCorps MobileBooth will be in Lafayette through March 3. If you're interested in recording an interview to archive at The American Folklife Center in The Library of Congress, make a reservation by calling (800) 850-4406. For more information, read The Independent Weekly's Jan. 31 article, "What's Your Story?"
Pat Leblanc surveys Lafayette
Pat Leblanc, President of LCS Corrections Services Inc, which operates several private prison facilities across the Gulf coast, including correctional centers in Basile and Pine Prairie, has recently completed a comprehensive political survey of Lafayette Parish residents. The eight-page survey, mailed out last December, asks residents their opinion on everything from local and national politicians, the UL horse farm, minimum wage and their favorite local restaurants.
Leblanc does a Q & A this week with Daily Advertiser "Rightblog" columnist Don Bertrand and says he mailed out 2300 surveys to residents across Lafayette parish, whose addresses were randomly pulled from voter rolls purchased from the secretary of state's office - the only condition being that the residents had all voted in the past three parish elections. Leblanc says about 575 residents mailed the surveys back in, equaling roughly a 25 percent return.
Leblanc says he conducted the survey "to get a true read from our Parish residents/voters, and not a sanitized version from some media agency or political group." He says the poll shows that President Bush's favorability is well above 60 percent in Lafayette. On the topic of the Iraq war, his survey showed that 17 percent opposed the war and favored getting out now, while 26 percent favored staying "until the job is done." The majority, 56 percent, checked the middle box which stated "I don't think we should cut and run, but do think we need an exit strategy." Leblanc, who is widely rumored to be eyeing a run for either sheriff or state rep. in Lafayette Parish, plans to release the full survey in the coming months.
Boo: Lafayette's Survivor
Lafayette resident and 34-year-old construction work Ken "Boo" Bernis will star in the 14 season of CBS' reality show "Survivor," filmed in Fiji. The Daily Iberian, The Daily Advertiser, and even The Times-Picayune have run articles about the three Louisiana residents starring on the show, including Lake Charles' Eric Durousseau and Slidell's Jessica deBen.
"Survivor: Fiji" airs on KLFY TV-10 tonight at 7 p.m.
Banker runs for State Rep
Barras, who has served as a board member and volunteer on Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce, the Council for a Better Louisiana, Shadows-On-The-Teche, United Way of Iberia Parish and the Sugar Cane Festival Association says that economic development will be his primary focus as a legislator. As a banker, Barras says his knowledge of finance will offer the foundation for the best decisions for the parish and the state. "With this election, Louisiana has an historic opportunity for change," he says.
Opelousas Daily World sports editor fired after falling for Saban hoax
"LSU was nothing before I arrived. Academically, athletically, physical plant, nothing. I made LSU. I was LSU. Their current success is due solely due to my recruits. Coach Miles, while a fine man, does not fill my shoes, fit my desk, or cast a taller shadow. Our coaching staff is superior to anything in Baton Rouge. We will go into Louisiana and take each and every player we want. LSU will not, nor can not stop me. Mark my words."
Saban's said and done some questionable things in recent months by leaving the Miami Dolphins to coach the Crimson Tide, but even a casual sports fan would know that Saban would never utter such a quote. (There were other numerous tip-offs that the story was fake, including Saban supposedly saying that Mississippi State funds scholarships "by collecting pop bottles and aluminum cans along the highway.")
But the Daily World's Dodge didn't bother to check any of the sources for the fake story, and wrote a column blasting Saban for the quotes. The newspaper removed the column from its Web site on Monday and replaced it with this note: "The column that had appeared in this space was inaccurate and has been removed."
A Daily World representative confirmed this morning that Dodge was fired after the incident.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Is Lincoln really a cesspool?
A contingent of 15 officials from Lafayette, La., visited Lincoln in November and apparently thought they'd stumbled into some kind of utopia.
After citing a string of quotes from Stubbs' piece, Winter unleashes this zinger:
"The way it's set up with them, if you develop a subdivision out of the area, you're in trouble 'cause you can't get sewage or water to it," Lafayette Planning Commissioner John Barras told the Independent.
(No wonder they think it's so great here — apparently they deliver sewage to their subdivisions.)
Apparently the Midwestern humor in Lincoln overfloweth. One reader added this comment to the paper's Web site:
Pretty sure any town is progressive compared to Lafayette.
Festival International 2007
A national news anchor who gets it
Kudos to NBC's Brian Williams, who anchored his nightly newscast from New Orleans' Lakeview neighborhood last night. Williams reported on NOLA firefighters still living in trailers who remain committed to their jobs, responding to as many as nine fire calls a night.
Williams sums up his commitment to the region perfectly in this NY Daily News story:"New Orleans needs it," he said. "If we, of all people, ever turn our backs on this story, we're worthy of scorn and much blame. … It's everyone's story," Williams said. "It doesn't matter who worked the most hours, or when. As an American, looking at a million displaced Americans, this is our story, it's an American tragedy caused by nature and exacerbated by bad decisions and inaction."
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Cameron Parish - 7,403 (down from 9,991 in '00 census)
Calcasieu Parish - 189,768 (up from 179,030 in '00 census)
Vermilion Parish - 58,114 (up from 53,040 in '00 census)
Monday, February 05, 2007
Louisiana: Cockfighting's last holdout?
Gov. Bill Richardson - who is aspiring to win the Democratic Party nomination for president - is now rallying behind banning the sport. And a key Senate Conservation committee, that had previously blocked anti-cockfighting legislation, has just approved the ban.
The AP story notes how, for many years, the debate over cockfighting was much more heated:
Over the years, attempts to ban cockfighting have drawn big crowds to the Capitol, and emotions have sometimes run high.
Republican Sen. Joseph Carraro of Albuquerque, who was given the bill to sponsor as a freshman in 1985, recalls the angry cockfighter who came into his office and shouted, "This is my livelihood" as he stabbed the desk with a knife for emphasis.
Ex-senator Christine Donisthorpe remembers catching a glimpse of a knife strapped to a cockfighter's ankle during a heated debate in a small committee room. She left and asked state police officers to sit in.
"It was the only time I was really afraid," said Donisthorpe, a Bloomfield Republican who served from 1979-96. "I cannot think of any other bill that created that emotion."
The Humane Society has also put out this release on the pending bill in New Mexico which also states that political momentum has been building for a similar ban in Louisiana
The hip hop candidate?
Modern touches to Horne's campaign include a video montage with music by rapper Lil Nuke, also of Franklin.
The video is posted on http://www.youtube.com. Search for 'Lee Horne" to find his campaign site. Horne said Lil Nuke is a fellow member of Full Gospel Community Church of Franklin.Here it is, in all its glory:
Friday, February 02, 2007
On Saturday, Feb. 17, Bourque's Social Club will host a membership drive and fundraiser. UL's Dr. Pat Rickels will discuss the work of Harry Oster and the prison recordings he made at Angola. Movies will run from noon until 3 p.m., with folklore presentations at 6 p.m., and the band kicking off at 7:30 p.m.
General admission is $15, $10 for students, and $5 for club members. (But if you donate a instrument, you can waive the fee altogether.) Bourque's Social Club is located at 1012 Saint Mary St. in Scott. For more information, call (337) 247-0164.
Super Bowl airing in HD on Cox
Rev. Brown enters Governor's race
"Gov. Blanco, as you know, she was slow to respond to [Hurricane] Katrina. The governor, excuse the expression, is a no-good bitch. That's not a curse word, we say that in church. She's no good."
Brown also called the local clergy who worked with the city and Sheriff's Department "Uncle Toms, bootlicking and tap-dancing, scratch-where it don't-itch preachers" and threatened violence, saying the New Black Panther Party knew how to use weapons of warfare and could take over the streets of New Iberia.
In announcing his bid for Governor, Brown said he wants to help small businesses, ban the Confederate flag, and make the public use of certain racial slurs a civil penalty. He also said Gov. Blanco has been an ineffective leader and called on her to step down. However, Brown, who has already publicly apologized to Blanco for his previous comments about her, said he would not resort back to name calling
"I'm not going to call her that name because I believe that's an insult to women, and I love women."
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Nick Saban vs. Warren Perrin
Talk about a headline you'd never imagine writing. But Nick Saban, former LSU/Miami Dolphins head coach and now-head coach of the Crimson Tide, keeps finding ways to put his foot in his mouth. Just weeks after his self-made debacle of denying he was leaving Miami for Alabama and then disgracing himself by going back on his word, Saban's giving LSU fans and Louisianans a brand new reason to despise him even more.
Yesterday, an audio tape of off-the-record comments Saban made to Alabama boosters started circulating on the Internet. Saban, apparently trying to be funny and endear himself to his new supporters, told a story about an LSU booster and used the word "coon-ass."
The issue quickly snowballed, and Saban has now issued one of the dumbest non-denial denials ever:
"It was brought to my attention this afternoon that some comments attributed to me are being disseminated on the internet and in the news media, comments including wording that can be taken as derogatory by some people," Saban said. "Those comments need to be placed in the proper context, so as to understand the meaning of what was said. The words were used in paraphrasing a story told to me by a friend. I was simply using the same wording used by the person who told me the story. The term in question is not language that I use or condone, and I can understand how some would take offense. However, I think it must be noted that those comments were made 'off the record' and the words merely reflected an anecdote that was told to me using that language."
So, if someone tells me a story using offensive words or a word that can be viewed as an ethnic slur, it's OK if I tell the story since I'm just repeating their words? Saban might be able to diagram a defensive scheme, but he's apparently having trouble using common sense.
Saban's "statement" prompted this rebuke from Warren Perrin, president of the Council for Development of French in Louisiana."I routinely state that the use of that term is highly offensive to descendants of Acadians, who are commonly referred to as Cajuns," Perrin said.