Thursday, May 31, 2007
Road Home despair
But it has stirred something close to despair among some Louisiana residents, who were already bemoaning the sluggish way the program has given out the money it does have; only 22,000 families statewide, out of 140,000 applicants, have received grants so far, for a total of $1.3 billion.
Something "close" to despair? Consider the case of New Orleans' Basin Street Records' founder Mark Samuels, who's been chronicling his Road Home trials on the Basin Street Records blog:
Sept 21: 2 hour meeting with Road Home program advisor.
October 9th: Inspection at my home.
Jan 3rd: finally received grant award letter (I expected $115,000-$150,000 but letter says my grant award will be $43,000.)
Jan 4th: after 30 minutes on hold got cut off when as they transferred me to an advisor to discuss my concerns (as the grant letter suggested). Called back and left a message on an answering machine that said my call would be returned within 2 days.
Jan 5th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 8th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 9th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 10th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 11th: called and left message on an answering machine (after first getting cut off)
Jan 12th: Ditto
Jan 15th: Ditto
Jan 16th: Ditto
Jan 17th: Ditto, but I also sent them a letter.
Jan 18th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 18th: called and left message on an answering machine
Jan 22nd: Ditto
Jan 22nd: Ditto
Jan 23rd: Ditto
Jan 24th: Called and spoke to Monica, yea! She told me that they received my letter and that I should expect a revised grant award letter. However, the revised numbers only addressed one of my concerns and I asked her to review the calculations again. As we were wrapping things up, my connection (perhaps my cell phone) ended. I called right back and got through again! I was not allowed to speak to Monica again, but I spoke to Ewell, who was able to confirm that Monica had input the information that I should expect a new calculation, and that another inspector would call me to come out to the house. He was not able to tell me when that might happen. Congratulations Governor Blanco...I am home (in the upstairs of my house and have caught two rats so far in the gutted downstairs), but if my appeal doesn't result in a lot more grant money, I am about to decide to leave again.
I spoke with Samuels this morning; he still hasn't received his Road Home funds. "My main criticism is of Gov. Blanco," says Samuels. "And I'm critical of ICF, too, because they obviously weren't equipped to handle this program. … If the Road Home program isn't fully funded, Gov. Blanco needs to figure out how to take care of the promise she made and get us our money, or businesses like ours are going to fold or leave. I had a meltdown with Road Home on March 29 and broke into tears on the phone. I told the rep, ‘I have three talented children in the city. I'm going to leave if I don't have my money before the end of the school year. I'm not going to live another year like we did this year, with no furniture, cooking in a microwave and a toaster oven.'
"The next day I got a phone call from a Road Home rep who was very helpful," continues Samuels. "I sent her a bunch of additional photographs, and she told me she's done what she needed to do so I can now get the full $150,000 award amount. But it's now two months later, and I haven't gotten a letter or any more calls – nothing. And I'm one of the fortunate ones who can conduct his business on a computer, and can spend time emailing and calling Road Home constantly. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who's in Jackson and has to work a 10-hour job.
"I love New Orleans and I really don't want to leave, but I feel like I need to take a stand," says Samuels. "I don't know what that might be – maybe shutting the doors to my business for a few months, or staging a hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol. I don't know what I'm going to do."
UL's Landry "strongly" eyes top post;
state's Savoie non-committal
Before becoming commissioner, Savoie was vice president for university advancement for five years. Now 53, he was the youngest commissioner in the country when he took over the job — he's now the third longest serving.
Landry, however, isn't as distracted. "I'm watching for the ads and the timeline," he says. "I'm getting encouragement from some of my colleagues … from faculty." Landry has served in his current post since 2000; prior to that, he was vice president for research after having been director of research and sponsor programs. In the 1980s he was a faculty member in the computer science department and head of the department.
Both Landry and Savoie have doctorates and classroom experience, which is favored by members of UL's faculty. While a nationwide search is under way, they are viewed as top contenders for the post, but many believe they may represent the status quo due to their loyalty to retiring UL President Ray Authement. Whether the search committee will seek candidates who represent significant change in the direction of the university has yet to be determined.
Long considered the heir-apparent, Savoie acknowledges such "rumors have been around for several years." Saying he is "flattered" by the speculation, Savoie is adamant there is no basis for it. "If there have been any arrangements made, I haven't been a part of them," he says.
(Photos: Landry, top; Savoie, left)
Opelousas bans 24-hour booze, again, kinda
For a first time in four years, Opelousas residents living near late night bars will not hear noise, revelry or commotion past 2 a.m. after the city's latest amendment to its liquor ordinance went into effect Wednesday.
The law, which now forbids liquor sales and consumption from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. at establishments where 15 percent or more of its sales are derived from alcohol, was temporarily placed on hold last week by 27th Judicial District Judge Donald Hebert until he could review arguments on the constitutionality of the law.
Bar owners contend that the 15 percent rule is being used to allow Evangeline Downs to serve alcohol throughout the night and force other bars to stop serving at 2 a.m. The Advocate reports that Police Chief Perry Gallow says enforcing the ordinance will be difficult and that tax records, sales records, and liquor purchases will all have be analyzed to determine which establishments fall within the 15 percent exclusion.
Gallow also said violence in the city has increased with the all-night hours allowed under the 2004 ordinance. Most of the complaints filed are in connection with a group of establishments in an area of Opelousas known as "The Hill."
Gallow said police don't receive similar complaints about the casino.
Resident Reginald Tatum told the Daily World that he's only 500 signatures short of submitting a petition to the St. Landry Parish Registrar of Voters that seeks to ban on all sales and consumption of alcohol every night at 2 a.m. until 10 a.m.
AMI juvenile center could be derailed
AMI is seeking to build the 10,000 sq. foot facility, to be called Acadiana Marine Institute, on 40 acres of land it acquired on Hoffpauir Road. Earlier this year, the state Office of Youth Development agreed to terms to pay AMI $1.75 million a year to house adjudicated juveniles, deemed to be nonviolent offenders, at the facility once it is built. Residents in the area have been opposed to the project because they believe it threatens safety in their rural neighborhood and say that AMI officials have not been upfront with them about the facility.
No Lake Peigneur drilling ban
Acadiana food bank joins statewide lobbying effort
In south Louisiana alone, the food system has been severely compromised, says Natalie Jayroe, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Acadiana. School lunches are inconsistent, emergency feeding programs no longer exist, food stamp offices are closed and many of community centers that served seniors and children prior to the hurricanes have been destroyed. "Thousands of families who have lost everything and are struggling to rebuild, who may never have needed our help before, deserve our help now," she says. -- Jeremy Alford, Independent Weekly contributing writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
FEMA's 4,000 no-bid contracts
A FEMA spokesman said the majority of the no-bid contracts were awarded under emergency conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The list probably totals about 3,600 contracts, he added. He said FEMA has greatly improved its contracting practices under the leadership of Director David Paulison, who replaced the embattled former chief, Michael Brown. "We share the frustration of the number of no-bid contracts that were awarded in the heat of battle during Hurricane Katrina," the spokesman said.
FBI investigates La. film industry
Under state law, bricks-and-mortar film projects, such as studios and soundstages, are eligible for state tax credits worth up to 40 percent of the value of the project; investors backing productions of films and videos in Louisiana may receive credits of up to 25 percent. Additional tax credits are available for hiring Louisiana resident workers for film production.
Bernie Cyrus, former director of the Louisiana Music Commission, filed a whistleblower lawsuit in February "alleging that his former boss at the Department of Economic Development took bribes from a New Orleans film production firm in exchange for steering more tax credits toward the company."
The most explosive allegation in Cyrus' suit is that representatives of the New Orleans production company, known as LIFT, paid kickbacks to Mark Smith, who until 2005 headed the economic development department's film division and who was Cyrus' boss. Smith steered film productions and tax credits to LIFT, the suit says.
Pine Leaf props from Rolling Stone
The Pine Leaf Boys are a biracial Cajun band — no common thing — steeped in tradition (singer-accordionist Wilson Savoy is the son of Cajun performer-scholars Marc and Ann Savoy) but with free-range ambitions in soul, Canned Heat-style boogie, zydeco (the country funk of black Louisiana) and Mardi Gras Indian chants. They did it all — sometimes all at once — in their Jazz Fest set with the tight, headlong delight that makes Blues de Musicien (Arhoolie), their second album, the next best thing to a Saturday night dance in Lafayette.
Speaking of Saturday night dances in Lafayette, here's the Pine Leaf Boys performing "Keep Your Hands Off It" at Blue Moon:
Prince rounds out UL prez search committee
All search committee meetings are open to the public, with the first scheduled for June 14 at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of Moody Hall at UL, followed by a 1 p.m. public hearing. The tentative schedule calls for another public hearing on the campus this fall. "The purpose of the public hearing is to receive input from faculty, staff, students and community members about their desired characteristics of a new president," says UL System President Sally Clausen, who serves as non-voting chair the search committee. "It is essential that every university stakeholder feels part of the process."
Authement is the longest serving president of a public university in the country. After 33 years at the helm, he announced his retirement April 27. For a timeline and list of the 14-member search committee, click here.
Montesano gets his lifeline
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
More bubbles at Lake Peigneur
Tomorrow morning, supporters will meet at Rip Van Winkle Gardens at Jefferson Island at 6:30 a.m. and caravan to the state capitol to attend a Natural Resources Committee Hearing in support of House Bill 617, which would protect the salt dome from future drilling. On Thursday, a public meeting will be held at Rip Van winkle Gardens to discuss Lake Peigneur at 7 p.m.
KATC's Tonya LaCoste joins Faith House
The news of her departure was not a big surprise to the station's management. "Tonya informed us several months ago that she was looking to take some time off from broadcasting after her wedding to Sean Trcalek [a former KATC account exec now at KADN Fox15]," says station General Manager Andrew Shenkan.
LaCoste, who grew up in Morgan City, joined KATC in 1999 and has anchored weekend newscasts since the fall of 2005. In her newly-created post at Faith House, a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, LaCoste says she will concentrate on enhancing the organization's three outreach offices in Evangeline, Acadia and Vermilion parishes.
More accounting problems found at Citizens Insurance
The audit also found Citizens picked up a $3,522 tab for several hunting trips at the Bon Amis Hunting Club in Ville Platte. These trips included Faser, former state Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley, deputy insurance commissioner Chad Brown, and other state and private insurance officials. Faser told the auditors that these trips "nurture and enhance relationships with persons and agencies involved in insurance regulatory matters and others."
The global warming/hurricane strength question
"Global warming is as real is it gets," but as far as its link to hurricanes, "I don't think it's been proved conclusively," says Richard A. Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Meanwhile, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that the increased frequency of Category 4 and Category 5 storms since 1970 is "directly linked to the trend in sea-surface temperatures."
The Times acknowledges the dichotomy:
This kind of he-said-he-said debate often leads people to dismiss a subject as one about which nothing will ever be known with confidence. In fact, the give and take is an example of the way scientists tug and haul at their own and others' findings until a consensus takes shape. … In the current debate over global warming and hurricanes, the problem is relatively new and the data are hard to obtain and analyze.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Airport chair says Roberts to retire or face termination
Airport Director Greg Roberts' rude personality hasn't endeared him to many people in Lafayette, and now it's part of the reason he may lose his job. Carroll Robichaux, chairman of the Lafayette Airport Commission, says Roberts is being given the opportunity to retire or face termination. "If Mr. Roberts doesn't retire or resign, it'll probably be the first thing on the [June 7] agenda," says Robichaux, who wants to see Roberts replaced. "There are four [additional commissioners who support his termination] for sure," the chairman adds.
Robichaux says the airport commission's questionable spending and the subsequent legislative auditor's review is a "minute" reason the commission wants him to go but would not elaborate on other issues for legal reasons. He did, however, cite Roberts' discourteous personality as a compelling reason for his pending departure. "That's one of the things [Commissioner Don] Higginbotham and I talked to him about Monday. The way he asserts himself. He's got the military attitude," Robichaux says. "I can deal with him, but it's the way he handles himself in the public eye."
The commission is made up of seven members, and Robichaux votes only in the case of a tie. Roberts does have at least one adamant supporter in immediate past chair Jim Nunn. "Greg is imminently qualified for his job based on his past performance," says Nunn, noting increases in passenger boardings, air freight business and airport rental income.
In typical fashion, Roberts was abrupt in responding to a request for an interview about his job security. "I really don't have any comment at this time," he said.
Republican Sen. Ted Stevens sneers at Louisiana
He's also irritated because apparently he hasn't even taken the time to see how the Road Home program is designed, acting incredulous that affected homeowners would receive checks directly. Stevens says, "We never give checks to applicants, only contractors," before the testifying panel educates him on Road Home program requirements and the concept of elevating homes.
To watch the video of the hearing, click on this link, then click under Recent Programs on "Senate Homeland Security Subcomte. Hearing on Gulf Coast Housing (5/24/2007)." Once Realplayer launches the video clip, fast-forward to around the 1:32:30 mark to watch Stevens start his grandstanding. He sticks around for about 10 minutes before
I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens is the man who last year described the internet as "a series of tubes."
Archive Aid 4
Shipwreck found in Gulf of Mexico
To date, the ship is unidentified and the possibilities are legion. In the years following les Sieurs d'Iberville and Bienvielle's claim of the Louisiana territories for France, in 1699, Louisiana flew the flags of France, Spain, and finally America when the territory was purchased by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. Traders, pirates, smugglers, and warships all plied Gulf waters. Artifacts collected by the Texas A&M team will be studied at the university's Conservation Research Laboratory, before being sent to the Louisiana State Museum for display.
White House spars with state over Road Home shortfall
In response, Louisiana Recovery Authority executive directory Andy Kopplin testified, "When the president said he would do what it takes and stay as long as it takes, he didn't say except if you had wind damage." Kopplin also noted that the federally-approved Road Home application includes the statement that all applicants "deserve a fair and independent estimate of projected damages from the storm, regardless of the cause of damage." "That's been our policy since the beginning," Kopplin said.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter has also stepped into the fray, writing in a letter that state lawmakers should be using a "sizeable percentage" of this year's $2 billion state budget surplus toward the Road Home shortfall. "If leaders at the federal level are going to be any part of the solution, they absolutely want to see leadership and action at the state level first," Vitter wrote.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Lafayette Middle hosts NOAA
24-hour booze back in Opelousas
Bridging the gap
New Iberia resident Chris Burton, a member of Friends of Vita Shaw Bridge, says that the bridge should be added to the list of tourist attractions in the parish. "It's been an unofficial tourist attraction for years. It's time we made it an official stop on Iberia Parish's list of historic sites." State rep. Troy Hebert, who is running for state senate from Iberia Parish, stepped into the controversy, asking Fontenot to slow down bidding out the job until the matter can be addressed in public forums. Danny David Jr. another member of Friends of Vita Shaw Bridge says he has a petition with about 800 signatures to save the bridge.
(photo of Vita Shaw bridge by Chris Burton)
KATC news director leaving
Warner believes he is leaving KATC with a much better news product that makes it a stronger contender for the top spot in local TV, a position still held by KLFY. "It's a horse race," he says. "I'm real proud to have had a part in that."
KATC General Manager Andrew Shenkan hopes to announce an interim news director before Warner leaves May 31 and says a nationwide search will be conducted for his successor.
Introducing the 1st Annual Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival
To get you primed, check out this video of Houma bayou bluesman Tab Benoit – recently crowned with the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award at Memphis' Blues Music Awards -- doing an impromptu version of "Fever for the Bayou" on the streets of the French Quarter.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Houndstooth: a great place to spit on opposing coaches
Alabama fans, always classy.
"Jena Six" trial postponed
"Adolescents play pranks," said Breithaupt, the superintendent of the LaSalle Parish school system. "I don't think it was a threat against anybody."
A string of fights between black and white students followed – allegedly a white student beat up a black student at an all-white party, a white student pulled a gun on three black students at a convenience store, and an unknown arsonist set fire to the school. But on Dec. 4, a group of black students allegedly jumped a white student and knocked him unconscious. After a few hours in the hospital, the student was released.
But the LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters, opted to charge six black students with attempted second-degree murder and other offenses, for which they could face a maximum of 100 years in prison if convicted. All six were expelled from school.
On Monday, the trial for three of the students was postponed, moved back to June 25. The Town Talk reports that the father of one of the accused students, Marcus Jones said the black students are being held to a different standard than the white students.
"But this fight, with black boys against a white boy, there are attempted murder charges," Jones said. "There are racial tensions, and it started with those nooses."
The six students are being dubbed the "Jena Six," reminiscent of another high school racial matter in central Louisiana in 1981. When three students refused to be bused across the Red River to the integrated Jones Street Junior High in Alexandria, instead of the predominantly white Buckeye High School, local media referred to the students as the "Buckeye Three."
Pattern Book garners award
NOAA's 2007 hurricane forecast and a Chertoff flashback
Mello Joy on the move?
Though Mello Joy did not indicate where it plans to locate, sources say the company may be considering several north Lafayette sites, including one on Moss Street near Schilling Distributing's headquarters. The zoning issue represents a new development in a plan that has been in the works for several years. Company officials told The Independent Weekly in late 2003 that they hoped to begin roasting here within a year.
Mello Joy officials — among whom are businessmen Wayne Elmore and Clark White — declined to comment on the planned move, and it's unclear how many jobs the new facility would create. Read more in today's Turk File.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Climate Project comes to Lafayette
The Weather Channel returns to affordable Cox tier
"When we moved The Weather Channel from basic last year, many expressed concerns, and we promised that we would look for a solution," says Cox spokeswoman Sharon Kleinpeter. "It has taken almost a year, but all parties have worked together on a plan to bring all Cox Greater Louisiana customers The Weather Channel's unique programming on the basic lineup beginning in time for the 2007 hurricane season."
The change is effective June 23, but customers may start receiving the signal before then as Cox begins to make the transition. Cox basic subscribers, who pay $12.97 for channels 2-24, will catch the national 24-hour weather network on Channel 22. Customers with Cox's expanded basic service — channels 2-72 for $47 a month — will receive The Weather Channel on channels 22 and 55 until Cox works through programming and contract issues to replace the latter.
Audubon focuses on critical bird habitat
The Important Bird Areas Program in Louisiana is an integral part of Audubon's Mississippi River and Gulf Coast Initiatives. These programs are Audubon's effort to advance the conservation and restoration of coastal Louisiana and restore the overall health of the Mississippi River ecosystem. Through its river, gulf, and IBA conservation efforts Audubon hopes to address significant threats to birds including the loss of habitat, degradation of water quality, decline of critical bird populations, and global warming. Global warming is predicted to result in significant sea level rise, leading to the inundation of critically important areas of coastal wetlands and barrier islands.
The six areas identified are Catahoula Lake and wetlands; Breton National Wildlife Refuge and Chandeleur Islands; Maurepas Swamp; Evangeline Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest; Vernon Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest and the Mississippi River Birdsfoot Delta.
Tommy Michot, a biologist at the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette has spent 25 years documenting bird habitat at the Chandeleur Islands and Catahoula Lake. His work is included in the Audubon IBA documentation. Michot said that while identifying the areas does not protect bird habitat, it's an important first step. "If the sites become threatened in any way--and they are always under various threats from all sorts of things--the science is already done. An agency can use the IBA identification to help protect endangered habitat."
Scientology in Baton Rouge public school system?
LEAP scores are up since Hubbard's "study tech" was instituted at Prescott – registering a 1-point gain in English and language arts, and a 7-point gain in math. Principal Elida Bera says she's very happy with those scores, though they're still below state and district averages. No other Baton Rouge politicians, educators and administrators disassociated from Scientology are quoted, while professors from Southern University and The University of Missouri praise the program.
Dave Touretsky, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University described by the SPJ as one of Scientology's harshest critics, isn't buying it. He says that study tech is "covert religious instruction" and unconstitutional to teach in public schools.
The idea, he said, is probably not to convert people directly, but rather to establish Scientologists as "do-gooders" and then to "slip in more Scientology down the road."
Video of South College fire
Monday, May 21, 2007
Corps says dam MRGO
School board to challenge Trahan ruling
At issue is a clause within all school employees' contracts stating, "If the Board decides not to renew this agreement, the decision must be based on the recommendation of the Superintendent." In the case of Trahan, Superintendent James Easton recommended renewal of her contract, despite complaints from several board members that she is directly responsible for the district still having not received nearly $12 million in Title funds from the state. On Monday, District Judge Ed Rubin issued a writ of mandamus forcing the school board to renew Trahan's contract, which it did at its Wednesday meeting. Rubin also stated that the board still has the power to transfer or terminate Trahan, though it must have just cause to do so.
Board members point to Louisiana Revised Statute 17:81, which grants the general powers of the school board, and states "Nothing shall prevent a school board from rejecting the recommendations made by the superintendent and requiring the superintendent to submit additional recommendations." "We're going to move forward with whatever legal means we have at our disposal," LaCombe says. "This case goes far beyond just that individual in this circumstance. It brings to the forefront the issue of what do we do if this happens again. Are we going to be in the same position when the Superintendent and the board are at odds?"
New Times of Acadiana movie critic is psychic
This was a bit curious, considering that The Times comes out on Wednesdays, Shrek the Third didn't open until last Friday and Lafayette is too small a market for advance screeners. There's no way Domingue could have seen the movie before reviewing it and assigning it a grade.
Lo and behold, tucked at the end of 11 more capsule reviews with assigned grades, the following appears:
Ah, mystery solved. Rather than actually see the movie before giving it a grade, The Times' new critic will simply guess what the movie is like! Award-winning Independent film critic Shala Carlson has been working too hard. To think she spends hours watching a movie and then countless hours writing her reviews, when she could just use a Magic-8 ball. And all these years I've been actually listening to records and reading books before reviewing them, when I could just make stuff up and make readers think I've listened to them or read them.
Fats Domino takes the stage
The audience was given a brief moment of pause when, after the fourth song, the applause was cut short by silence as the 79 year old Fats stood up from the piano and attempted to leave the stage. Reggie Hall quickly led him back, setting him back down in front of the Steinway and Sons baby grand, and whispered song titles in his ear for the remainder of the evening.
On this Monday morning, check out this clip of Fats performing "Blue Monday" in the the 1956 film "The Girl Can't Help It."
Montesano changes his mind, will appeal to council
It was actually a bit closer than that. "They met our deadline by two minutes," says council Clerk Norma Dugas. Requests for appeals must be on the agenda 11 days before the regular meeting, Dugas says. The deadline was noon Friday.
Even though he's trying to negotiate a compromise with the council, Montesano is still sweating it out. His financing, $48 million, expires May 29. "We're trying to get the bonding company to extend us a few days," he says.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Transportation bill could mean $150 million for Lafayette
A bill being pushed by the Lafayette state delegation along with City-Parish President Joey Durel and State Treasurer John Kennedy could provide much more of a boost to Lafayette roads than originally anticipated. When the team announced the plan – to let parishes keep money generated from state motor vehicle sales taxes to use for road projects – legislators based their projections off of 2005 motor vehicle sales taxes, which totaled $283 million. In 2006, those revenues shot up to $382 million, with Lafayette Parish vehicle sales tax figures almost doubling from $11 to $21 million. State Rep. Joel Robideaux, who authored the House bill, says that if it were to pass, Lafayette Parish would be able to bond out that revenue stream for eight to 10 times that amount to do road construction and maintenance projects. "It's going to be in the neighborhood of $150 million [for Lafayette Parish]," he says, anticipating the post-hurricane numbers will drop a bit, "which would solve a whole lot of problems." The legislation - along with another bill from Lafayette state Rep. Don Trahan to dedicate state registration and drivers license fees into a transportation trust fund - is slated to be heard on Monday by the appropriations committee.
NIMBY: residents oppose facility to help at-risk youths
"I did not acknowledge that it's not a jail," maintains Meaux, a cattleman who says he lives near the planned facility. Meaux argues that any juvenile who goes through the court system, whether for truancy or simple theft, and is sentenced to AMI's facility is a criminal — and thus believes the facility is a jail. The facility will not house any violent criminals or sex offenders. "I don't care what they are," he says, insisting he doesn't want the youths in his neighborhood, a sparsely populated remote area of southwestern Lafayette Parish. Meaux, who is president of the board of SLEMCO, referred The Independent Weekly's questions to public relations consultant Sandy Kaplan, whom he has retained along with attorney Jimmy Davidson to fight the facility. Kaplan, however, was unavailable for comment.
AMI's programs consist of residential and day treatment centers for adjudicated youth and six alternative schools for at-risk students in Florida and Illinois. The nonprofit operates 50 facilities, seven of which are in Louisiana, though the Hoffpauir Road location will be its first residential center in the state. AMI was awarded the bid to construct and run what it will call Acadiana Marine Institute by the State Office of Youth Development. It will provide therapy, counseling and high school equivalency degrees to older students. The program's success rate in Louisiana in 2006 was 87 percent. "This means 87 percent of AMI graduates have no further contact with the juvenile justice system," Money says.
To address concerns of residents like Meaux, AMI and its local board members — among whom are Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom, DA Mike Harson, District Judge Tommy Duplantier, Dru Milke, Dr. Kenneth Odinet, Hank Perret, Lenny Lemoine, Jerry Prejean, Glenn Decou, Greg Ellison and Kyle Love — volunteered to hold a public forum tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Ridge Elementary. "We just want to give them the opportunity to ask questions and answer those questions directly, and clear up any misinformation," says Money, who expects at least half of the local board members to be in attendance.
A day late and a vote short
This has sent a message across America to the insurance industry that says, ‘Do not come to Louisiana.'
However, on Thursday, on the floor of the House, the bill was defeated by a vote of 52-45. (It takes 53 votes, half the House, to pass.) The Advocate front page headline reads "Building code bill fails." Pinac, relieved after the vote, quipped about Fannin's bill:
His bill is on life support.
Fox's post-Katrina cop series gets greenlighted
"You don't want to do a show that's a Hallmark card to New Orleans, because then you're not writing about real people. You want to make them flawed. If you have them too flawed, you run the risk of lapsing in the cliché of the corrupt cop in New Orleans. If you make them too good, then you're not telling good stories. It's a very delicate balance to make the characters seem rich and real and sympathetic, while at the same time operating in a context that is inherently depressed."
Bois Sec Ardoin dies at 92
Visitation will be held Sunday night, May 20, at St. Mathilda Catholic Church in Eunice from 5 until 10 p.m. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday. May 21 at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Eunice, with the burial to follow at Ceaser's Cemetery in Duralde.
In memory of Ardoin, Fontenot and the other Creole musicians who paved the way for zydeco, here's a clip of the two men performing the Eunice Two-Step and Bonsoir Moreau, recorded in 1966 at the Newport Folk Festival.
(Image of Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin courtesy of David Simpson, LSUE)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Dolphins players rip Nick Saban
Saban is now head coach of the Crimson Tide, and LSU fans are counting down the days ‘til Nov. 3, when the Tigers face their SEC rivals and old coach at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Alabama. Saban's disgraceful and dishonorable jump from the Dolphins to the Crimson Tide was bad enough, but after Saban's infamous "coonass" story he told to Alabama reporters, he's fortunate he doesn't have to return to Tiger Stadium this season.
Video poker plays to full house
Unsurpassed quality, state-of-the-art technology and player appeal, the MegaPlex series of video poker machines from Summit Gaming has certainly set the benchmark for what great video poker is all about in the state of Louisiana.
Lafayette Police plans downtown substation
The downtown office has been a part of the department's long-term plans, but was moved up to this year's budget following concerns expressed by area business owners about a spike in assault crimes. Four muggings have been reported downtown since February. Craft says the department has made arrests in three of those cases and has also stepped up its patrol of downtown, with two full-time officers now assigned to the area. He says the new substation will further augment their presence. "We want to get back to more community-oriented policing," he says, "with officers assigned regular beats and a storefront-like presence in the area."
DA meeting with airport attorney, reps today
"The only challenge the legislative auditor leveled was that meals after commission meetings were ‘unnecessary,'" notes Edwards, "and in the spirit of compromise, we agreed — and agreed not to do that anymore." At times, those gatherings — some costing $500 to $600 at upscale local restaurants — violated the state's open meetings law because a quorum of commissioners was present and airport business was discussed. Edwards maintains that the airport, which receives some of its funding from property taxes, has not paid for commissioners' post-meeting meals since October.
The attorney says commission Chairman Carroll Robichaux and airport Director Greg Roberts will also attend today's meeting with Harson.
Louisiana residents' interest in rebuilding wanes
We continue to see public attention shifting away from rebuilding and toward other issues. Yet, no other problem has replaced rebuilding as the most important problem.
The survey also indicates that half of the residents surveyed feel that Louisiana is headed in the wrong direction, a third believe the state's headed in the right direction, and 17 percent aren't sure.
Read the summary PDF or the PDF of the 54-page report.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Texas Hold 'em bill back before legislature
Borel's win shines light on south La.
Louisiana-born jockeys have made their mark at the highest levels of American racing. Eric Guerin of Maringouin won the 1947 Kentucky Derby on Jet Pilot; Hall of Fame rider Eddie Delahoussaye of New Iberia won consecutive Derbies in 1982 and 1983 on Gato Del Sol and Sunny's Halo; Craig Perret of New Orleans rode Unbridled to victory in the 1990 Kentucky Derby; and Kent Desormeaux, a native of Maurice, captured the 1998 Derby on Real Quiet and the 2000 Derby on Fusiachi Pegasus. …
The cautionary tale is that the breeding grounds of the great Cajun riders have all but disappeared. It used to be that bush tracks -- in reality, just straight-ahead two-lane tracks with rails on each side -- dotted the sugar cane fields of southwest Louisiana, providing an Ivy League education in how to ride. It was a democratic system: the best and brightest pupils, the ones with vision, strength and courage, survived and advanced to the big tracks.
That's how Delahoussaye and Borel earned their spurs. …
Stopping sagging not a cinch
It shall be unlawful for a person in a public place to be found in a state of nudity or partial nudity or in a dress not becoming to his or her sex or any indecent exposure of his or her person or undergarments.
If passed, anyone caught violating the ordinance will be fined up to $500 or imprisoned for six months or both. While the ordinance tracks an Opelousas law, which city clerk secretary Lisa Anderson says dates back to the 1940s, a 1999 attorney general opinion requested by the city of New Iberia in its attempt to regulate sagging clearly states that municipalities are prohibited from passing an ordinance on the criminal offense of obscenity which exceeds the scope of Louisiana statute 14:106, "Offenses affecting the public generally."
The state obscenity laws cover indecent exposure of the body, but stop short of calling unbecoming clothing or undergarments indecent. "I concluded that government cannot tell people how to dress as a general rule," Simon says. "I don't think you can regulate clothing."
TPL's Schmidt "confident, encouraged" after meeting with Authement
The trio did not discuss specifics of the option agreement TPL is in the process of drafting — not even the duration of it. TPL should have it ready to be presented to Authement next week. Before signing the agreement, however, Authement would need the approval of the UL System's Board of Supervisors. Schmidt says Authement explained his need for property closer to campus, and that at least a partial swap may be part of the plan, which will likely include a variety of government and private monies.
TPL plans to pay fair market value for the 100-acre tract. The organization assumes the cost of conducting an appraisal and other due diligence on the property. The transaction would likely also require legislative approval, according to Jerry Jones, head of the state Office of Facility Planning and Control.
Neither Authement nor Durel could be reached for comment.
Editorial: Greenspace and greenbacks in Lafayette
[UL Lafayette President Ray] Authement's actions to date [regarding the UL Lafayette horse farm property] and The Independent's recent discovery that City-Parish President Joey Durel considered selling the greenspace on Camellia Boulevard to developers suggest that some of our city's leaders still don't understand the economic, environmental and sociological impact of preserving what little greenspace remains in Lafayette. It's a mindset that conjures up the classic Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi":
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Here in Lafayette, however, we know what we've got, and we don't want to see it gone. Read the whole editorial.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Montesano pulls plug on golf course development
Miers says a group of property owners who had initially agreed to sell Montesano acreage backed out of the deal, which had a ripple effect. "That property would have given him access to additional property he needed to acquire," Miers says. The developer was forced to find alternate land and successfully negotiated deals for property on the north side of Ridge Road. He submitted a revised plan to the Planning Commission last night, and the commission approved it but wanted him to pay to extend Curran Lane, which runs on the side of the Ambassador Caffery Wal-Mart, and make additional road improvements. "They told John he needed to build it and dedicate it," says Miers, who notes that the road would go no where. "It dead-ends short of tying into Domingue Road." Montesano, who is willing to dedicate the land for the road but doesn't want to pay for its construction, could appeal the decision to the City-Parish Council, which Miers thinks he could win. That won't work, however, because Montesano has until May 29 to close on his loan but wouldn't be able to get on the council's agenda until June. "He loses his financing at the end of this month," Miers says.
As for the $2 million Town Center Parkway he built and agreed to dedicate to local government, Montesano says he's changed his mind about handing it over. "It's going to be a toll road, the first toll road in Lafayette," he told The Advocate.
School board member running for city council
Hefner - who now often finds himself in the minority on the new school board which took over this year - says he's excited about the fresh opportunities in city-parish government, which will soon help oversee a state of the art fiber network throughout the city. Next year's city council will also have at least six new members. "The stars have kind of aligned," Hefner says. "If I win, it will be tough to leave the school board. With my background, I just feel like I could get more done for the parish on the council than the school board." He adds that he hopes to try and facilitate more coordination between the two local government bodies. Hefner is the first candidate to announce a run for the District 5 council seat. Other potential candidates said to be looking at the race include planning commissioner John Barras and Linda Duhon, who lost a bid for the seat four years ago to Broussard.
Diana's got it made in the shade
A rare white alligator, bred by a commercial alligator farmer in Cut Off, has joined the Knoxville Zoo for a summer vacation. Announced yesterday, her name, Diana, is the result of a local contest. Diana is a true albino unlike the leucistic, blue-eyed white alligators owned by the Audubon Zoo. True Albinos have red eyes rather than blue and are the result of a double recessive gene. Her parents produce a clutch of eggs annually and the young white alligators are regularly purchased by the Alligator Farm Zoological Park in St. Augustine, Fl.
In a shady exhibit made to look like a Louisiana bayou with tree stumps and hanging Spanish moss, Diana basks in the warmth of a heat lamp. Her delicate skin lacks the pigment to protect her from the sun. According to legend, states an article about Diana in National Geographic News, gazing into a white alligator's eyes will bring good fortune. Assistant curator of herpetology for the Knoxville Zoo Phil Colclough told reporters that Diana fascinates zoo visitors. "Nobody believes she's real. They stare until she takes a breath or moves her eyes or jumps into the pool."
(photos from National Geographic News)
CABL presses for "quantum change" in Louisiana government
The challenge now is getting our gubernatorial candidates to present platforms that address these issues with concrete initiatives. If voters, the press, CABL and other government reform groups -- including Blueprint Louisiana, Louisiana Speaks, and La Ethics 1 -- can keep the spotlight on candidates' stances and demand real answers, it'll be a glorious political version of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run."
NY Times on divided New Orleans
When President Bush spoke to the nation soon after Hurricane Katrina, he was resolute that the city would be rebuilt. "We will do what it takes," he said. We — the federal, state and city governments; elected officials and the citizens who hire them — have failed spectacularly. Homes and schools remain empty or imaginary; evacuees and survivors wait in cramped trailers, unable to return or rebuild. A huge silence still hangs over the Lower Ninth Ward, a place every American should see, to witness firsthand how truckloads of promises have filled New Orleans's vast devastation with nothing.
The editorial cites recent findings about post-Katrina New Orleans, recently issued by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which show a "sharp divide in the way that African Americans and whites in the New Orleans area experienced the storm and perceive the recovery efforts, especially in hard-hit Orleans Parish." The editorial concludes:
Their faith must not be betrayed. Residents in the survey were keenly aware that their city's fitful recovery would be devastated if the levees failed again. They put strong levees above all other priorities, including fighting crime and even basic services like electricity and water. And yet National Geographic has reported that an engineer has found signs that levees were poorly rebuilt and are already eroding. There is no room for error here.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Crawfish disease detected in St. Martin Parish
LEDA's Gothreaux: park is highest and best use of horse farm
Gothreaux is encouraging the community to rally behind the effort to purchase and convert the 100-acre horse farm into a parish-owned community park. "It appears that the highest and best use of this land would be for that purpose," he says. Gothreaux is hopeful tomorrow's meeting between UL President Ray Authement, City-Parish President Joey Durel and The Trust for Public Land's Larry Schmidt will be fruitful. "Dr. Authement's tenure at UL has always been marked by great vision. I believe that if the community can put a plan in place and satisfy the university's needs for the funds, he would love this option."
Barry: the nation should care about La.'s coast
Generating benefits to the nation is what created the problem, and the nation needs to solve it. Put simply: Why should a cab driver in Pittsburgh or Tulsa pay to fix Louisiana's coast? Because he gets a stronger economy and lower energy costs from it, and because his benefits created the problem. The failure of Congress and the president to act aggressively to repair the coastline at the mouth of the Mississippi River could threaten the economic vitality of the nation. Louisiana, one of the poorest states, can no longer afford to underwrite benefits for the rest of the nation.
Blanco rips the feds
It's all political. You know, this country's run on politics. But when a disaster comes that is not what you expect, you expect a human reaction, not a political reaction. And I will tell you, there's a void, a total void of human response. And it's extremely discouraging as an American citizen. It makes me angry and extremely disappointed.
As the two-year anniversaries of Katrina and Rita approach, Blanco ends with an appeal to members of Congress:
They need to look in their own hearts to decide what they would want to happen in their own states if something of this magnitude did as much damage. Where would their people be?
Friday, May 11, 2007
ThyssenKrupp chooses Alabama for Gulf Coast steel mill
Just yesterday, the Louisiana state house upped its allocation for infrastructure build out for the plant to $400 million – matching bonds approved by the Alabama legislature. While Louisiana officials have been tight-lipped on its complete package of incentives offered to ThyssenKrupp, reports have put their total value at around $2 billion. Alabama has also doled out numerous incentives and tax credits, including one that allows the company to reduce its state corporate income tax bill by an amount that is as much as 5 percent annually of its initial capital investment.
ThyssenKrupp's statement today says "Due to its high cost efficiency, Mount Vernon [Alabama] is the ideal location" adding that "Decisive factors included logistical considerations of the company's supply chain from Brazil to our projected customers; operating costs such as electricity and labor; and site-specific capital expenditures."
Amidst the disappointment, Gov. Kathleen Blanco remained optimistic today saying "To be selected as one of two finalists from among 20 states and 67 sites for a project of this magnitude is a tremendous honor and proves that Louisiana is moving forward with extraordinary momentum."
All eyes still on Calvin Borel
After winning the Kentucky Derby, having dinner with the president of the United States, the Queen of England, and Super Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning, Borel has returned to the stable with Street Sense. On Wednesday, the horse bit Borel after he gave another horse a carrot before Street Sense got his. The reason? Borel explained quite frankly: "He got pissed off."
Authement: horse farm offers "verbal and confidential"
Included in the response to the public records request was the May 4 letter from the national nonprofit land conservation group The Trust for Public Land. TPL hopes to buy the property at fair market value and hold it until local government can pay for it and convert it into a park (where dogs would be welcome, too). The trust's Louisiana director, Larry Schmidt, is meeting today with City-Parish President Joey Durel and members of Save the Horse Farm and on Tuesday with Authement. Should Durel and Authement strike a deal with Schmidt's organization, the transaction will likely require legislative approval, says Jerry Jones, head of the state Office of Facility Planning and Control. Otherwise, Becnel, Hanks and other "confidential" parties would have to take their chances in a public bid process.
AOC wants your fest pics and videos
Ted Power leaves The Daily Advertiser, moves to Nevada
Best of luck in your new job and hometown, Ted. You're one person Gannett should have kept here.
The event, held tomorrow, May 12 at Parc International, starts at 11 a.m. with True Man Posse, followed by performances from Richard Revue (folk roots rock and alt. country), Lil' Nathan & The Zydeco Big Timers, Dustin Ray & Southern Groove (Cajun and swamp pop), Big Sam's Funky Nation (New Orleans funk), Travis Matte & The Zydeco Kingpins (booty-infused zydeco) and The Soul Rebels (jazz, funk). The day ends at 10 p.m. with The People's Band. Sticking to their grassroots approach, the People's band is made up of JCF organizers. For more info, check out www.injacobsmemory.org.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Meriwhether, Bruder on UL search committee
Sierra Club warns of toxic FEMA trailers
Terrebonne, Breaux Bridge in spotlight
Famous for its crayfish and Cajun cooking, Breaux Bridge is also ideal for an active holiday - with the Atchafalaya Basin the place to go for walks and canoe trips where you can see cypress trees, water lilies, beavers, wading egrets and alligators.
Meanwhile, Terrebonne Parish has been noted as one of America's most remote places. A new U.S. Geological Survey report, based on the number of roads in an area and the distance required to get around, named the coastal parish one of the wild places. Raymond Watts, lead researcher on the project, says he was surprised to see that many of the most remote areas in the country are located in Louisiana. While this might be an eye-opener to someone expecting remote places to be in Wyoming or Alaska, it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who knows the condition of Louisiana's roads.
Codrescu asks: Where's Lafayette's Gabriel Garcia Marquez?
The column's filled with Codrescu's signature subtle and dry wit, and includes a reference to his difficulty placing a classified ad with The Daily Advertiser. Codrescu ultimately asks, "Where is Louisiana's [William] Faulkner?"
Red Beans and Rice: cookin' again
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Camellia Green: Paradise Lost?
Three years later, grant money for the project is still tied up and Lafayette Consolidated Government has begun exploring other options. The city is now moving ahead with construction of a fence along the boulevard for residents, spending funds it had set aside in hopes of a local match for the Camellia Green grants. And at a recent meeting with area residents, City-Parish President Joey Durel floated an idea that infuriated many in attendance – the possibility of redeveloping the land. Read the full story in this week's Independent.
Fort Polk troops on Iraq stand-by
This morning, President Bush said he would veto a bill drafted by House Democrats that would only fund the war through the summer. If conditions do not improve in Iraq, the proposal gives Congress the option to cut off funding beginning in August. Bush asked for war funding of more than $90 billion through September.
ESPN films at Blue Moon tonight
Coastal restoration and protection master plan set for hearing
A joint committee of lawmakers is expected to hold the first hearing later today on the state's master plan for coastal restoration and protection, but hearing is all they will get to do. That's because Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 by Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Terrebonne Parish Democrat, does not allow for changes or amendments. What they'll see this afternoon is what they'll get. Sydney Coffee, chair of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the group that essentially drafted the plan, says it was introduced as a hands-off measure because officials wanted to avoid legislative tinkering.
However, trying to muzzle a lawmaker is easier said than done. Sen. Butch Gautreaux, a Morgan City Democrat, has filed a "comment box resolution" that will allow lawmakers to make recommendations and comments on the master plan. "This allows us to make our comments and keep the approval process of the master plan relatively clean," Dupre says. While the feedback and concerns will be part of the legislative record, the resolution is nonbinding and has no legal authority, but lawmakers will have their say. An actual vote on the two resolutions could come as early as tomorrow morning. -- Jeremy Alford, Independent Weekly contributing writer
Louisiana Speaks unveils regional plan tonight
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the A. Hays Town building at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum (710 East Saint Mary Blvd.). City-Parish President Joey Durel will deliver opening remarks.
BR pub: T. Joe in, Clausen gets his job, Clarke hers
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
T-P gives major props to Festival International
Clausen: Blanco, Authement no say in presidential search
New Orleans chooses new superintendent of schools
We've got to get qualified people in the classrooms. We not only have the problem of deep poverty; we have the problem of children who have been traumatized.
Facilities. Fixing schools. From what I've heard, it's facilities, facilities, facilities. Clearly the hurricane has done damage, but there has been neglect" even before the storm.
Of the original 128 schools that comprised the district, only 22 remain under the jurisdiction of the Orleans Parish School Board. Seventeen have become charter schools, the rest are shuttered. Vallas comes to New Orleans after making sweeping changes in Chicago and Philadelphia, ready for the challenge.
Why this job at this time? You've got an opportunity to create a new school system.
Boustany makes good on wager
Levees' stability questioned
Breaches in that 13-mile levee devastated communities in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, and the rapid reconstruction of the barrier was hailed as one of the corps' most significant rebuilding achievements in the months after the storm.
Bea has been studying the levees for National Geographic magazine:
Bea found several areas where rainstorms have already eroded the newly rebuilt levees, particularly where they consist of a core of sandy and muddy soils topped with a cap of Mississippi clay. "It's like icing on the top of angel food cake," Bea says. "These levees will not be here if you put a Katrina surge against them."
Visit A City's Faulty Armor for video and interactive graphics of Bea's findings.
Monday, May 07, 2007
UL dairy barn is history
"We need to move forward," said Save the Horse Farm co-founder Danica Adams from the Johnston Street site. "We can't be distracted by this setback. The loss of the barn itself is not so devastating. It's the implications of it." The group fears Authement, who is now seeking to clear two small homes off the property as well, has ulterior motives outside of his liability claims. "One hundred acres of land, once it's developed, can't be reclaimed as public greenspace," Adams says. The group has established a greenspace fund with the Community Foundation of Acadiana, and this week is accelerating its fundraising efforts. To donate to the fund, call the foundation at 266-2145.
(Photo By Philip Gould)
Jazz legend Alvin Batiste dies
The New Orleans musician learned from the iconic Sidney Bechet, taught the Marsalis brothers Wynton and Branford (kicking the later out of his program for not being committed to the music), played his first gig with Guitar Slim, and later played with Ray Charles.
Aside from his musical style and the compositions he penned, Batiste will perhaps be remembered most as an educator. He founded and taught at the Batiste Institute at Southern University before retiring in 2002. Former student and saxophonist Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson told The Independent in a March 21 interview that he opted to learn from Batiste instead of the Berklee School of Music, on advice from Branford Marsalis. Anderson said that Batiste's influence stretched far beyond the classroom:
Even now, when I'm teaching, one thing I learned from him, is to always be as true to the music as possible. When you're playing jazz music, you have to learn the whole history of it. So first I had to go back and figure out what made the early New Orleans jazz music sound good. The first thing he thrust me into, he said, "Instead of me trying to teach it to you, I want you to go down to New Orleans." And I went and marched in a parade in Mardi Gras for six hours. Right then I figured it out: this music is social. It was about musicians interacting with people. ...
Batiste died of a heart attack at the age of 74. His last CD was released in April, titled Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste and was produced by Branford Marsalis.
Acadiana's Borel is toast of the country
If you didn't see the Derby, click the play button to watch Borel and Street Sense make history.
Lake Charles votes for Smart Growth
Duany and Oubre also came up with plans for the small towns of Delcambre and Erath following Hurricane Rita. While those plans have been endorsed by the two towns, to date there is no funding to implement them. In Lafayette, Oubre is working with the city parish government on a Smart Growth plan for the entire parish. "It's slow going, kind of like herding cats," Oubre says. "We'll eventually get it done."
Friday, May 04, 2007
Horse barn coming down
Cockfighting to be phased out
Yesterday, the Humane Society of the United States announced that it was spending $75,000 on a radio ad campaign in support of immediately ending cockfighting in Louisiana. (Listen to the first and second commercial.) The group opposes legislation that phases out cockfighting and wants it banned immediately.
Festival blowouts in Breaux Bridge and New Orleans this weekend
If you're headed to New Orleans this weekend for Jazz Fest, stop by the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage / Lagniappe Stage on Saturday and say hello to Independent Weekly Editor Scott Jordan, who interviews drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio of New Orleans funksters Galactic from 12:20-1:05 p.m.
Swan song for theatre group
National Homebrew Day at Marcello's
Thursday, May 03, 2007
iDiDx offers insight to entertainment business
Coast plan goes to Legislature
IberiaBank shareholders re-elect four directors
LHC Group uncertain about Medicare changes
More than 80 percent of LHC Group's revenue is derived from Medicare, and it's too soon to tell how the Lafayette-based health care provider will be affected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' 311-page proposed guidelines. But company officials hope to know more soon. "We are already working diligently with the National Association for Home Care, outside consultants, other homecare providers and patient advocacy groups to ensure that our comments and recommended changes are effectively communicated to CMS and members of Congress during the comment period [60 days] for this proposed rule," says LHC Group President Keith Myers.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Presidential hopefuls in BR this week
Paging all book lovers
Blanco and Jindal, just like old times
Blanco responded yesterday afternoon with a letter opening, "Dear Congresman Jindal:
Welcome to Louisiana's reality. The reasonable explanation – and I'm sure that it does not come as a surprise to you – is that Louisiana is in need of additional federal recovery dollars. We have always said that Louisiana has been shortchanged in federal dollars. This is not news.
Blanco goes on to criticize Jindal for his recent vote against a supplemental spending bill in Congress, which included $6.9 billion in Gulf coast aid but also set a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Despite GOP opposition, the bill passed both the House and Senate only to be vetoed by President Bush yesterday.
Jindal spokesman Trey Williams has since responded to Blanco, stating:
It is disappointing that Governor Blanco has chosen to respond to Congressman Jindal's legitimate inquiry with unprofessional finger-pointing. Governor Blanco's letter admits she knew of the shortfall but still leaves some fundamental questions unanswered: when will the Road Home program run out of money and how much longer did Governor Blanco intend to cover up this fact?
Smithsonian's Cajun history lesson
Twenty-somethings with tattoos shared the floor with dancers in their 60s and 70s, all of them — no matter their age — swinging and swooping and hollering. Cajun culture, it would seem, is alive and well, and ready for another century.
More agonizing Katrina waste by the feds
And while television sets worldwide showed images of New Orleans residents begging to be rescued from rooftops as floodwaters rose, U.S. officials turned down countless offers of allied troops and search-and-rescue teams. The most common responses: "sent letter of thanks" and "will keep offer on hand," the new documents show.
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. "Tell them we blew it," one disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded."
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Grants administrator fires off lawsuit, complaints
Board member Hunter Beasley says Trahan's memo is the first he has heard of many of these issues and Trahan is yet to bring any action items before the board. "If these things were holding up the Title I funding, she should've been addressing these back in September," he says. However, Beasley says based on his own correspondence with the state's Title office, many of the points in Trahan's letter are not what has delayed the district's Title funding. "Nine-tenths of this stuff is not on that application," he says. "If she wants to keep us informed that's fine, but we need to be working on getting our Title money." The school system's Title funding, totaling about $12 million, has been held up since last fall over problems with the district's application to the state. Beasley plans to address his issues with the memo at tomorrow night's school board meeting.
"Focus on Louisiana" series debuts tomorrow
Baton Rouge lawmaker files Lafayette blight legislation
The public body would be able to use "resources to eliminate and prevent the development or spread of slum, blighted, and distressed areas," according to the legislation. The bill also gives the authority the power to levy various forms of taxes. Redevelopment authorities are common around the nation, and have been praised for their work with so-called "brownfield" properties, which are abandoned, contaminated or in poor condition. The redevelopment authorities are also controversial at times, due to eminent domain issues.
– Jeremy Alford, Independent Weekly contributing writer
Stone Energy cleared by SEC
Former UL QB hopes to back up Packers legend Brett Favre
"I felt like it's a good fit for me," Babb said. "There really is an opportunity. That's the thing; just go in there and compete. I think heading into this draft, all I really wanted was a shot to get into a camp to see what I can do, and that's what the Packers are offering."
Other Cajuns signing free-agent deals include Michael Adams (Arizona Cardinals) and Joe Bradley (Minnesota Vikings).
(Babb photo from UL Lafayette Athletic Network)
in case you missed it