Friday, November 30, 2007
NY Times rips presidential debate committee for New Orleans snub
Following up on a slew of editorials from the New Orleans Times Picayune, questioning the logic behind the decision, the New York Times weighed in last week with its own scathing commentary:
It was as if some tour-book-quality recovery from the debacle of Hurricane Katrina was the committee's principal yardstick. What the committee should have realized is that New Orleans, with all its scars, offers an unrivaled and inspiring setting for a badly needed discussion of government's responsibility to address the nation's domestic ills...
Committee members insist there was not intent to spare the Republican candidate from having to orate at such and infamous scene of President Bush's domestic bungling and neglect. The denial sounds believable; the rejection of New Orleans strikes us as fare more plainly stupid than political.
Coastal restoration plan garners $225 million
More funding will follow in 2009-2010 to finance a total of 168 projects the state submitted as a plan to the Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service. As a member of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Mary Landrieu secured the funding in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by creating the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, administered by the MMS, which disperses offshore royalties to six eligible Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas producing states – Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, California, Mississippi and Texas. Yesterday, Landrieu announced that Louisiana is the first state to receive funding approval:
There is no better hurricane protection system than a healthy and vibrant coastline. This approval is a key step in the process to restore Louisiana's wetlands, and I look forward to disbursement of the funds in the next few weeks. It has taken many years for our state to begin receiving its fair share, but we are ready to start putting this funding to good work.
World AIDS Day walk/event in Lafayette tomorrow
As a way to take note and action, Saturday is World AIDS Day, an annual day of awareness that has been observed since 1988 to expand and strengthen the efforts to stop the spread of the disease. This year, the selected theme of "Unite Against AIDS: Leadership" hopes to inspire a commitment in communities like Lafayette to take a leadership role in eliminating HIV and the stigma associated with the disease. Beth Scalco, director of the HIV/AIDS program in Louisiana, says events are planned all over the state, including Acadiana, to "open the doors of communication, and get conversation, and thus education, flowing."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Former LUS adversary now Jindal's legislative liaison
While working for BellSouth, Williams was a primary player in negotiating the 2004 Local Government Fair Competition Act, which placed a series of restrictions on LUS entering the telecommunications business and required a public referendum on the issue. While both sides agreed to the legislation, city officials later cried foul when BellSouth used the act to file a lawsuit against LUS' bond ordinance for the project. BellSouth eventually withdrew from the suit, which was also brought by Lafayette resident Elizabeth Naquin, whom city officials speculated was serving as a front for BellSouth. LUS prevailed in the case and now plans to begin offering telecom services in early 2009.
"[Tommy Williams] was always their primary contact whenever we dealt with BellSouth," says LUS Director Terry Huval. Tommy Williams' son, John, is also a former lobbyist for BellSouth, and was a frequent spokesman for the company throughout its confrontations with LUS. "It's notable that has taken place," Huval adds, "but Tommy Williams doesn't work for BellSouth anymore and BellSouth is no longer BellSouth, it's AT&T, so there's different management of that organization as well."
Huval says those past disputes aren't personal. "Tommy was always a fine person whenever we dealt with him," he says. "I think some of the issues that came up where BellSouth as a corporation acted in bad faith wasn't necessarily at his direction. It was folks beyond that point that I think were involved in it." Huval also praised Williams as a deft negotiator. "Tommy is very effective in dealing with legislative matters," he says, "and I don't blame the governor for choosing someone who has as good a reputation as he has had in dealing with legislative matters."
"Unless we see something otherwise," Huval continues, "I'm going to trust that Tommy's going to follow what the governor wants to do, and my hopes are that the governor wants to do the right things."
Acadiana Outreach to build TND
FEMA to close parks by May 2008
The Times-Picayune reports that the closures will affect 6,400 people still living in trailers at more than 50 sites.
The agency has been careful not to attribute park closures to concerns about formaldehyde, which has been found at dangerous levels in some trailers. In a "Frequently Asked Questions" flier released Wednesday, a question asked: "Is FEMA closing parks because of formaldehyde?" FEMA answered: "Trailers were intended as short-term housing solutions. Rental resources are increasingly available in Louisiana and are more appropriate for long-term housing."
The New York Times estimates that 3,000 Louisiana families will be affected by the closures, including Renaissance Village, with some 925 families in New Orleans camps expected to close within days.
"We're with them every step of the way," said Diane L. W. Perry, a spokeswoman for the agency here, who added that no one will be forced out of a trailer without a home in which to live. ...
Most of those still living in the FEMA parks — which occupy playgrounds, churchyards, parking lots and fields around southern Louisiana — had previously been renters, and little low-cost rental housing has been repaired or built since the storm. Many people in the trailer sites are elderly or disabled, and large numbers are living alone.
According to The Advocate, there are 32,823 FEMA trailers still occupied in Louisiana. The announced deadline will not affect those living in trailers on private property where homeowners are rebuilding.
USA Today high on Cajun Wells' new wetlands novel
Wells, now a senior editor at the new Conde Nast magazine Portfolio (Conde Nast also publishes The New Yorker and Vanity Fair), spent much of his career as a writer and features editor for Page One of the Wall Street Journal. A Pulitzer prize finalist, Wells grew up in the Cajun enclave of Bayou Black, La., and now lives with his family outside Manhattan. Other Wells novels include Meely LaBauve, Junior's Leg and Logan's Storm; he is also the author of a number of non-fiction books, among them Travels with Barley, Daniel Pearl and Katrina Stories.
Here's more of what Minzeheimer has to say about Wells' Crawfish Mountain:
It's a cautionary tale about the environment, set five years before Hurricane Katrina. It's both a political satire and a page-turning mystery. Like the best jambalaya, it's liberally spiced. Readers can almost taste the boiled crawfish and oyster po' boys with extra pickles and mayonnaise (pronounced MY-Nez, by one character).
Wells ... makes the most of Louisiana's legendary political corruption and its roguish politicians.
River delta symposium at Wetlands Center
What triggered the conference was the aftereffects of Katrina and Rita. Plans for restoring the Mississippi River's delta, in an effort to stop the subsidence along the coast will also be discussed. "Most of the scientists have the same problems in their own countries," says Wetlands Center deputy director Gaye Farris. "They have human populations living along river deltas. They have economic considerations, and many of the deltas have been engineered and it's causing problems. A big consideration has been global climate change and rising sea level, and what that will do to the world's deltas. The whole point is to learn from each other."
Marquis medal could command $10 million at auction
Estimated price to own this piece of American and French history? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $4-$10 million.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Blueprint Louisiana touts "super-majority" in state legislature
Blueprint Louisiana co-founder and Chairman Matt Stuller of Lafayette stated, "We've maintained throughout our existence that Blueprint is about helping to create the state we deserve. We believe we're well-positioned for progress on these key priorities for the state, but acknowledge the hard work associated with passing legislation." Blueprint's five-part agenda includes the issues of state ethics, public education, workforce development, health care and transportation. The organization says it has now convened six working groups, one for each agenda item as well as a sixth dedicated to coastal restoration and hurricane protection, to develop legislation to implement its agenda. Blueprint also says it is working with legislators as well as the administration of Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, who did not sign Blueprint's contract, in advance of next year's legislative session. "Our interaction with legislators during the past few weeks has been very productive," Stuller says. "So many of them are eager and they recognize the opportunities ahead of them to build a legacy of significant improvement in Louisiana."
Davidson gets his rezoning — now what?
The rezoning of a portion of the single-family residential property, located at the corner of Girard Park and Hospital drives, for commercial use clears the way for Davidson to erect a four-story condo complex and offices directly across from Girard Park. That's what he says he wants to do, and that's about as specific as he has been willing to get. The council, inexplicably, approved the rezoning without holding him to a firm plan.
"There are no contingencies, no conditional rezoning," says Douglas English, who lives on Girard Woods Drive and heads the neighborhood group that fought the intrusion of commercial development in the residentially-zoned area, which is buffered from the existing commercial. He maintains that the council employed flawed logic in determining that Davidson should be able to rezone his property for commercial use simply because it is near existing businesses. "To put a commercial facility in there now upsets that balance," English says, "especially since we don't know what the commercial is."
The lack of a master plan again is fueling speculation Davidson simply secured the rezoning in order to sell the property, now much more valuable because of its commercial classification, to UL Lafayette. His 4.1 acres, part of the failed horse farm land swap, were initially inaccurately appraised for their commercial potential and valued at $3.25 million by retired Lafayette appraiser George Parker. In the course of that proposed deal, The Independent Weekly discovered that Davidson had been operating a plastics manufacturing business on the residentially-zoned property, an entity that has since relocated. A new appraisal ordered by the state after questions were raised about the integrity of the first appraisal reduced the value to $1.5 million, but the rezoning would likely bring it more in line with Parker's original valuation. The state (or UL), however, would not be held to any zoning restrictions.
UL President Dr. Ray Authement, who was successfully sued by The Independent after refusing to release the state-ordered appraisal, has never wavered in his desire to acquire the property. "I just spoke with Dr. Authement and he said that because our campus is landlocked, he is absolutely interested in purchasing any available property near campus," UL spokeswoman Julie Dronet said this morning. "He has not, however, spoken to Mr. Davidson since the property was rezoned yesterday evening to discuss the availability of the property."
"We've always thought that that's in the background," English says.
Louisiana in tonight's Republican presidential candidates' debate?
More botched 2007 hurricane predictions
It marked the third year in a row that Gray's predictions were inflated, and also underscored their ridiculous practice of "revising" their predictions through hurricane season, the equivalent of a pro football handicapper changing their pre-season picks halfway to the Super Bowl. Klotzbach defended the Colorado forecasters' practice by telling the Miami Herald their long-term predictions satisfy the public's "inherent curiosity."
Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for The Weather Underground and a former NOAA hurricane researcher, said it best: "If Gray were honest, he would say they have no skill in making predictions that far in advance," he told The Herald. "It's just an interesting mental exercise." - Scott Jordan
Acadiana Business' December issue: Entrepreneurs of 2007
Landreth and Clapton on DVD
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Hardy to recommend Shelton Cobb for school board seat
Cobb, who recently made an unsuccessful bid for the District 3 city-parish council seat won by Brandon Shelvin, is the former director of the Louisiana Technical College's Lafayette campus. He also previously served as a regional director for the state's vocational and technical schools and is a former teacher, having taught Hardy at Paul Breaux High School. Hardy says Cobb's experience should prove invaluable in helping assist the board with several ongoing initiatives, including a proposal to house a technical school academy at a new high school in the parish. "I think Shelton will do a good job," Hardy says. "He has a lot of experience in the technical school system." Hardy says he will officially recommend Cobb to the school board at its next meeting on Dec. 5. The board will not be able to take action on the issue until after Hardy's resignation. The board will also be accepting letters from other interested applicants for the seat through the Superintendent's office.
UL search committee punts to Board of Supervisors
Two out-of-state finalists, Dr. Karen White and Dr. Raymond Flumerfelt, had withdrawn their names by the time committee met Monday.
Still in the running are Commissioner of Higher Education T-Joe Savoie (pictured), UL Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry and Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley, president and CEO of Scholarship America. Savoie, whose stellar work as commissioner has many hoping he stays put, is said to be the favorite of the Blanco administration (though he has indicated he may not accept the post if offered it), and Landry is widely speculated to be outgoing President Ray Authement's top choice. If Savoie gets the job, it is unclear whether Landry will stay at the university.
Hunt Slonem book signing Thursday
Americans for Prosperity in Lafayette tonight
"The other LA"
Monday, November 26, 2007
LWV urges action on school facilities
Melancon files immigration legislation
Melancon has filed legislation that offers "commonsense measures" to address the nation's continuing challenges with illegal immigration. The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, also known as SAVE, is a three-part plan to drastically reduce illegal immigration through stricter border security, employer verification and interior enforcement. "Illegal immigration is a threat to our communities and a burden on our local governments," says Melancon. "We must do something to solve this problem."
Melancon says it's estimated that more than 12 million people are in the U.S. illegally, and thousands more are coming in every week. "Americans are demanding a solution," he adds. Specifically, the SAVE Act would add 8,000 new patrol agents to the nation's border, require employers to verify legal status and further enforce existing laws that the congressman says lack any real bite. - Jeremy Alford
Vitter's testimony cancelled
... U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Wednesday canceled the much-anticipated hearing and ruled that Palfrey was using the forum to attempt "an end run" around evidentiary rules to get a sneak peak at the government's case.
Palfrey has been indicted for running a prostitution ring in D.C. Her attorneys were expected to question Vitter about his involvement with the escorts.
Another UL finalist drops out, citing Landry endorsement
The latest to drop out of the running for UL president is Dr. Raymond Flumerfelt, vice director of the Texas National Wind Energy Project and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston. Flumerfelt withdrew over the weekend, following in the footsteps of Dr. Karen White. Via e-mail to System President Sally Clausen, who also heads the search committee, he wrote:
On Friday I learned that the ULL Faculty Senate endorsed Dr. Steve Landry for the position of President and recommended that only one name be advanced for final consideration. As a longtime academic leader and faculty member, I respect and understand this endorsement. As a result, I ask that you remove my name from consideration and inform the committee accordingly at your meeting on Monday.
Based upon my contacts with you and your staff and the many people involved in the interview, I will always have a very positive view of ULL. It is an important institution in Louisiana and has a great future, and I wish you the best in your final selection.
In all likelihood, the committee will submit two names to the full Board of Supervisors for the UL System, Commissioner of Higher Education T-Joe Savoie and UL Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry (pictured). Savoie is said to be the favorite of the Blanco administration, and Landry, who has received the backing of the UL Faculty Senate, is widely speculated to be outgoing President Ray Authement's top choice. The third finalist is Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley, president and CEO of Scholarship America.
The UL System's board will conduct public interviews with the candidates recommended by the search committee before making a final decision at its Dec. 7 meeting in Baton Rouge.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Council approves speed van changes
The council also waived a required deposit fee for challenging tickets, and has directed Redflex, the company contracted with to administer the program, to eliminate use of its use of strobe lights in the evening hours. While the council had originally proposed moving the program over to city police, an amendment by Councilman Bruce Conque keeps the program under the supervision of the Traffic and Transportation Department. Conque says the program would place an "unfair burden" on thinly-spread city police staff and that Traffic and Transportation is already well acquainted with running Safe Speed.
Reach out for Thanksgiving
Hurricane deforestation contributes to global warming
A new study released in Science magazine's November edition calculates that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita actually downed approximately 320 million trees in Louisiana and Mississippi. Researchers at Tulane University studied before and after satellite images and followed up by visiting some of the most hard hit areas, actually hand-counting dead trees. They then calculated the carbon release of the decomposing trees, predicting that the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere will contribute as much to global warming as all the forests in the US can absorb in a year. The decimated forests also open up coastal areas to erosion, and inland swaths of splintered woodland are being taken over by Chinese Tallow, or as they are locally known, "chicken trees." The loss of quality timber is another blow to the two state's economies. A $504 million federal program to help Gulf Coast landowners replant and fight invasive species has been a bust, tied up as usual in bureaucratic red tape.
James Cummins, executive director of the conservation group Wildlife Mississippi, and a board member Of the Mississippi Forestry Commission told the Chicago Tribune:
This is the worst environmental disaster in the United States since the Exxon Valdez accident ... and the greatest forest destruction in modern times. It needs a really broad and aggressive response, and so far that just hasn't happened.
In light of all the federal failures in hurricane recovery on so many fronts, it's particularly poignant that locals like Thibodeaux have made issues like reforestation their own. In this season of gratitude, it's good to remember those among us who have gone above and beyond their own individual needs to come to the aid of the community. Thank you all.
The INDsider returns Monday, Nov. 26
Forbes ranks LSU 6th most valuable college football team
Ex-LSU coach Saban compares UL-Monroe defeat to 9/11, Pearl Harbor
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event."
In a lame attempt at damage control, an Alabama football "spokesman" issued a near-immediate clarification. "What Coach Saban said did not correlate losing a football game with tragedy; everyone needs to understand that. He was not equating losing football games to those catastrophic events," Jeff Purington said in a statement to The Associated Press. "The message was that true spirit and unity become evident in the most difficult of times. Those were two tremendous examples that everyone can identify with."
Should Alabama lose to rival Auburn this Saturday, the world awaits history genius Saban's thoughts on the defeat.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Loaded council agenda for tonight
Other hot button items on the agenda include a series of amendments to its controversial Safe Speed program, a resolution opposing FEMA's new preliminary flood maps for the parish, an ordinance that sets up a franchise agreement between the city and Lafayette Utilties System's new telecommunications business, an ordinance that would nullify a previous city law setting the speed limit for Camellia Boulevard at 35 miles per hour, and a resolution by councilman Louis Benjamin on the idea of paying back a multi-million dollar lawsuit to city police and firefighters through a specially issued card that would exempt them from paying sales taxes. The action starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall on the corner of University Ave. and St. Landry street. As always, Acadiana Open Channel will be airing the meeting live on channel 16.
New Orleans "not ready" for debates
The city of New Orleans is addressing directly a host of domestic issues that other cities also grapple with - from repairing infrastructure to improving schools and bettering health care. This makes New Orleans the ideal stage for the candidates for President to lay out their visions for improving America, from the Gulf Coast and beyond and it is disappointing that they will not have the opportunity to do that.
In an editorial today, The Times-Pic calls the decision "a shameful rebuff" and points to events that are scheduled to take place and that already have taken place in the city since Hurricane Katrina - including the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7, an upcoming NBA All-Star game and several conventions.
Commission [on Presidential Debates] member Mark McCurry would have us believe that the group actually did us a favor. He said the staff was not convinced the city could pay for the required police overtime and that the expense was not "a fair thing to do to ask the citizens of New Orleans ... to pick up all these financial costs." Maybe next he'll ask the tourists to do us a favor and not visit us. Please, Mr. McCurry, no more favors! ...
More importantly, New Orleans' argument was not only that it could host the debate, but that it should. There's no better place to debate the domestic issues of a presidential campaign than a great American city recovering from a national tragedy. From education to health care to emergency preparedness, some of the nation's most innovative solutions are being tested here. That is why several presidential candidates from both parties have campaigned here and supported New Orleans' proposal.
White vote key to Hardy victory
"After the primary, the majority of harvestable voters in this district were the white voters," Gauthier says. "And Chris Williams was unacceptable to the majority of white voters. That's what the numbers show." Overall turnout for the election was 28 percent, compared to 36 percent in the Oct. 20 primary. The weeks leading up to the election saw a flurry of high profile endorsements for the two candidates. Williams won over the support of outgoing District 44 state Rep. Wilfred Pierre as well as two of his former opponents in the race, Derriel McCorvey and Terry Landry. City-parish president Joey Durel threw his support behind Rickey Hardy, calling him the only candidate in the race that was a "team player." Gauthier says it appears that "all of the endorsements had little to no impact" on the outcome of the race.
Made for the shade
The "Acorns of Hope" group is planting a special "Orange Island" live oak, chosen for its quick growing habit. Thibodeaux devised a plan to plant in clusters, the way oaks naturally grow on the coastal cheniers, to create wind and storm surge barriers for protection from hurricanes. The arbourists were joined by a group of 4-H teens from Cameron and Lafayette, who got a planting lesson on how to help spread the roots and mulch the young trees, to give them a chance to anchor themselves in the sandy soils along the coast. Lafayette Master Gardener Janice Prejean was along for the ride. "I hope this develops into something more," she says. "This is just the seed of tree planting efforts."
(Photo: Arbourist Steve Parker guides high school students on how to plant trees. Photo by Philip Gould)
Monday, November 19, 2007
"Zydeco Joe" Mouton dead at 64
The popular zydeco accordionist was the leader of the Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler Band and could be spotted throughout the area sitting in with bands on rubboard and dancing in the crowd. In 2001, Mouton released the hard-chargin' Jack Rabbit CD, and followed it up in 2006 with Black Cat, which contained the popular cut "You Can't Rooster Like You Used To."
(Photo courtesy of David Simpson, LSUE)
Changing of the guard in Iberia sheriff's election
Will Steve Landry be UL's next president?
"I struggled with whether to [apply]," Savoie told The Independent Weekly immediately following last week's public interview and executive session talk with the search committee. "I really like what I'm doing now, and I have a great board." Savoie says he had some concerns about losing the momentum of projects and initiatives on the state level but came to realize all of the pieces are in place for that to continue, adding jokingly, "I had to admit to myself that I was not integral to the continued success."
It is widely speculated that either Savoie or Landry will be offered the post, and on Wednesday of last week UL's Faculty Senate passed a resolution endorsing Landry, another requesting that the search committee make a single recommendation to the UL Board of Supervisors on Nov. 26, and a third asking all faculty to attend the November meeting in Baton Rouge. Of the more than 100 members of the faculty senate, less than half attended the meeting, with 29 voting for Landry, four against and five abstaining.
An outspoken critic of the process, Dr. Ron Cheek, an associate professor in UL's College of Business Administration, fired off a letter to all faculty and some members of the business community explaining why he would have voted against Landry if he'd attended the meeting. "I personally feel that Steve Landry is an intelligent, ethical, long-term devoted member of the ULL family," he wrote. "My non-support is because of the process, not because of Steve." Cheek is certainly not alone in his sentiment that this deal to name an "insider" to the post was cooked some time ago, long before the search for Dr. Ray Authement's successor began. Cheek's position, which he stresses is his "personal view," has generated a tremendous amount of support from UL faculty and others in the community (see the comments posted to his blog), but few have been willing to speak up publicly. "I've done my share," Cheek told the INDsider this morning. "It's time for others to step up; otherwise, they must agree with the process."
Cheek says he'd like to see the decision delayed until Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal takes office in January and has a chance to review how the search process has been conducted. The Gov. Kathleen Blanco-appointed UL Board of Supervisors, however, is scheduled to vote on the selection committee's recommendation Dec. 7.
One name that will not be submitted to the board of supervisors is Karen White, regional chancellor of the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. White dropped out of the running in a letter to UL System President Sally Clausen last week.
Vitter, Durel take on Mexican ID program
"It would be ridiculous to allow the Mexican Consulate to use a building paid for by the taxpayers to issue ID cards to benefit illegal aliens," Vitter stated in the press release. "I applaud Joey Durel in his decision to revoke the permit and stop this dead in its tracks." The day before, Vitter announced in a news release that he had already contacted the Department of Homeland Security about stationing ICE agents at the Lafayette card drive to identify and detain any illegal immigrants. In Washington, Vitter has been at the forefront of the opposition to recent efforts backed by President Bush to reform immigration laws and allow for a path to citizenship for many illegal Mexican immigrants. Vitter also recently co-sponsored legislation in the Senate to withhold federal transportation funding from states that continue to issue identification cards to illegal aliens and provide additional funds to those states that do not issue cards to illegals.
Durel says that he made the decision to revoke the Mexican Consulate's permit to operate out of the Clifton Chenier Center after conferring with city-parish council chairman Rob Stevenson. "I did not get the appropriate comfort level," Durel states in the press release, "about how thoroughly the Consulate would attempt to separate legal from illegal immigrants when issuing these cards. We felt that because of this lack of assurance and because it was unfair to those who have gone through all the proper legal immigration channels, we could not allow this potential illegal activity to happen in a government building." Durel adds the Mexican Consulate in Houston "has contacted me to tell me he understood our concerns."
Lolita Parkinson, media spokesperson for the Mexian Consulate says she believes this is the first time a local government has denied the Consulate use of a public building to issue the matricula cards. Late Friday, Parkinson issued a press release written entirely in Spanish and refused to provide an English version. Translated, the press release states that the card drive in Lafayette has been canceled because local authorities have refused to recognize the rights of the consulate set forth by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. On its Web site, The Mexican Consulate maintains that matricula cards are issued to Mexican natives abroad to "operate as a Mexican citizen's primary identification and proof of residency in Mexico," similar to ID cards issued by other government embassies to citizens living outside their native country.
Doucet honored with USA Fellowship
(Photo courtesy of David Simpson, LSUE)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
UL prez finalist drops out
White was out of her office and could not be reached for comment.
ACLU: Saggy pants bill is "folly"
Clothing is a form of expression protected under the Constitution of the United States.
Any showing of skin constitutes "partial nudity," which means that it will be up to the discretion of the enforcing officer to decide, based on his or her own personal standards, how much skin is appropriate. Short sleeves? Tank tops? Shorts...plunging necklines?...There is no clear standard, and the people of Gonzales will be forced to guess whether their clothing will pass muster.
She continues, citing that Louisiana statute RS 14:106 the state's obscenity law, shall not be exceeded in scope by municipalities and parishes by broadening the definition of obscenity to include "indecent exposure."
She also cites the 14th Amendment, stating that banning "saggy pants" or any other form of attire violates a liberty interest guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
Gonzales's police chief, Bill Landry, tracking the town of Delcambre's ordinance, where the crusade against sagging began, crafted the proposed law. To date, there are at least seven municipalities and parishes in Louisiana with sagging laws on the books. Gonzales officials have not responded the letter.
Councilman seeks to end tax-only elections
What's the big idea?
The world doesn't know Louisiana. It knows New Orleans, Mardi Gras and, unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina. It's time to let the world in on the rest of the story. The energy and vitality you find along the Corridor is absolutely contagious and has the magnetism to draw the right people, spur the economy and create a new future for Louisiana.
Download the PDF of the 56-page report "The Big Idea: Rebranding the I-10/I-12 Corridor."
Broussard fights back over Durel veto
Durel's veto overturned the council's 5-3 vote to accept Opus Lane, a gravel road in rural Lafayette Parish, for public maintenance. His reasons: the ordinance has a potential legal problem because no fiscal impact was conducted, as is required by an earlier local ordinance, and the parish would be taking on responsibility for a road that has been determined to be in poor and dangerous condition.
Broussard, who authored the Opus Lane ordinance, responded by proposing to scrap the $550,000 Settlers Trace project, which will connect The Settlement to Ambassador Caffery Parkway. The councilman claims Durel is supporting a project that helps affluent residents in The Settlement but is turning his back on rural residents. Broussard says he only intended for the parish to give residents on Opus Lane some relief by smoothing over the road; his ordinance placed the road at the bottom of the parish's priority list, with no funding in the next year.
"If we don't go to help them, nobody will help them," Broussard said in today's Advocate, which reports that both issues will be heard by the council on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at a regular and special 5:15 p.m. meeting.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Terry Landry backs Chris Williams
Landry, who was fiercely apolitical in his campaign and who is registered "No Party", says he initially was going to remain neutral through the runoff. "I guess that was a little naïve on my part," he says, adding that several former supporters have sought out and solicited his opinion on the race. "A lot of my supporters were undecided," Landry says. "Some are still undecided and I think those people are really going to decide who the next representative is going to be." Landry says the decision was difficult because he personally likes both Hardy and Williams, and has friends and former supporters now backing each of their candidacies. "I had to evaluate what's best for this community," Landry says. "It's really not about me," he says. "It's about who can best address the people's issues and concerns and that's why I'm backing Dr. Williams."
Prince wants more time in UL prez selection
Commissioner of Higher Education T-Joe Savoie, Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry and University of Houston Professor Ray Flumerfelt, who is also vice director of the Texas National Wind Energy Project, were all interviewed Tuesday at the LITE center. The two other finalists, Scholarship America President and CEO Clifford Stanley and University of South Florida Regional Chancellor/Professor Karen White, were interviewed Monday.
On April 17, UL President Ray Authement announced he would retire after almost 34 years at the helm. A search committee headed by UL System President Sally Clausen intends to recommend a replacement before the end of the year, an aggressive time frame that has some in the business and education community questioning the integrity of the process. See today's commentary in The Independent Weekly.
A FEMA fish tale
After Hurricane Katrina knocked out the power at the aquarium, thousands of fish and other aquatic creatures died in the tanks. A tourism anchor for the city, Aquarium of the Americas officials wanted to get back open as soon as possible. FEMA made a commitment of over $600,000 to restock the aquarium. Rather than buying fish from other aquariums and zoos, the entrepreneurial aquarium staff, in the spring of 2006, went to Florida on a scuba-diving mission, catching many of the fish they needed. A 1,000 gallon tank brought hundreds of sea creatures back to New Orleans. The aquarium reopened in mid-2006, helping reestablish the tourism trade in the French Quarter. The bill sent to FEMA for expenses catching 1,681 fish was $99,766, one-fifth of what it would have cost had the aquarium bought the fish from specialty vendors.
Seventeen months later, FEMA is still refusing to refund the aquarium. FEMA quality control manager Barb Schweda wrote in a 2006 email:
FEMA does not consider it reasonable when an applicant takes excursions to collect specimens. They must be obtained through a reputable source where, again, the item is commercially available.
Even the clownfish at the aquarium aren't amused. Handicapped by expenses, the aquarium has had to lay off 80 percent of its workers. Someone needs to come up with a way to feed the sharks. Any ideas?
Festival of Trees kicks off tonight
Back to the drawing board
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Michot in line for Senate Finance Chairmanship
Michot had initially made a run for the post of Senate president but backed down when it appeared he wouldn't be able to get enough votes in the majority-Democrat Senate. Michot and his supporters backed Chaisson, with one of the understandings being that Michot would be a logical choice for finance committee chairman. Michot notes there has been intense jockeying for leadership positions amongst legislators since the Oct. 20 election, likening it to "a very complex game of chess with a lot of egos and agendas." Michot says he has also spoken with Gov.-elect Jindal about his interest in the finance committee chairmanship. He says his priorities as chair of the committee, which controls the state budget, would be accelerating the phase out of business taxes and addressing infrastructure needs. "When we look at the funding and infrastructure needs that we have in Acadiana," he says, "the chairmanship of finance would be a key position for someone from Acadiana."
Get schooled on levees
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chair Sidney Coffee says the three-day program is the first step in providing a professional development program to assist public agencies, including levee boards and districts, in fulfilling their statutory and fiduciary responsibilities in flood protection and ecosystem restoration. After initial training, participants will return annually for one-day continuing education. "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita taught us that we need to integrate our approach to both our man-made flood protection systems and our natural environment," she says. "[The] school will give our commissioners and managers better tools for decision making." - Jeremy Alford
El Sido's zydeco food drive
Darrell Bourque named Louisiana Poet Laureate
Monday, November 12, 2007
Abell, Allen, Brupbacher on Jindal's ethics council
Jindal will kick off the first Ethics Transition Advisory Council public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 15, at Kirby Smith Hall on the LSU Campus. The hearing will focus on the reform initiatives presented in Jindal's 31-point ethics reform plan and highlight the connection between strengthening ethics reform and increasing economic development and national investment in Louisiana.
Interviews start today for UL prez job
Tomorrow, Nov. 13, the two local candidates, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education E. Joseph "T-Joe" Savoie and UL Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry, will be interviewed at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., respectively. At noon tomorrow, the last of the five finalists, Raymond Flumerfelt, who is vice director of the Texas National Wind Energy Project and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston, will be interviewed.
During the interviews, members of the public will be allowed to submit questions for the candidates.
Visit the UL System's Web site for more info on the finalists and to find out how to submit questions and comments to the search committee. Videos of all three interviews will be available at www.youtube.com/ulsystem.
NOLA through the lens of Harry Shearer
Questions about Jena Six funds
Michael Baisden, a nationally syndicated black radio host who is leading a major fundraising drive on behalf of the Jena 6, has declined to reveal how much he has collected. Attorneys for the first defendant to go to trial, Mychal Bell, say they have yet to receive any money from him.
The civil rights group Color of Change has accounted for the $212,000 it has collected and paid to the Jena Six's attorneys. But that didn't stop Baisden from questioning the group's use of the funds. On his show recently, he hosted Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell (one of the Jena Six), who accused Color of Change's founder James Rucker of misusing the funds.
Jones offered no evidence for his assertion. But Baisden told his listeners that Rucker "sounds shady to me," before promoting his own fundraiser, scheduled for this weekend, which aims to collect at least $1 million for the Jena 6 and other black defendants nationwide.
On the eve of the Sept. 20 civil rights march, Baisden advertised a book-signing and solicited cash donations for the Jena 6 families at an Alexandria, La., rally, but his business manager, Pamela Exum, declined to specify how much was collected or how the money was distributed.
Color of Change officials call Baisden's broadcast comments slanderous and say they are contemplating legal action.
LSU returns to No. 1
Friday, November 09, 2007
FEMA maps threaten Lafayette development
City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley notes that these developers have been operating in good faith based on existing official flood maps, and have followed all the necessary requirements for drainage studies and retention. He says engineers have already raised several questions about the new floodway designations, which city-parish government feels need to be addressed prior to the draft maps taking effect. Negotiations with FEMA will be spearheaded by the state's congressional delegation. In the meantime, Stanley says, city-parish government will continue to issue building permits in the new floodway areas on a case-by-case basis. To date, he maintains no permits have been denied based on the draft flood maps. "We have to be cognizant of building in a floodway," he adds, "and what that could do to the community. But by the same token we can't completely shut down development in Lafayette Parish."
"[FEMA] has been studying these maps for three years," he continues. "We've had them for 30 days and are expected to start operating off of them before they're even official. That's the concern that we have." Stanley adds that a meeting is being scheduled with Stirling Properties officials to further review any issues with the development. "These developments were not in a floodway at the time they were permitted," Stanley says. "We're operating off of what we believe to be valid maps, and now we have these draft maps that we're told we have to follow. These [draft] maps have not been formally adopted. It doesn't mean that they're right and it doesn't mean that they're wrong. But you have millions of dollars in development for your parish at stake in the interim, in the process."
FEMA to its employees: stay out of trailers
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu took the agency to task in a letter this week for the double-standard and chastised it for halting the CDC's testing. "Storm victims are suffering from the health effects of formaldehyde exposure while the agency, fully aware of the danger reflected in its own employee policy, is blocking public scrutiny of the extent of the carcinogen in these trailers," Landrieu wrote. "It turns out the agency has no idea what it would do with the information once it's compiled."
She continued, "These are more sad examples of the ineptitude by the broken agency. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Disaster Recovery Subcommittee, I will use my jurisdiction over FEMA to press forward with the agency's reform. We need a swift, effective and smart agency with flexibility in its response -- not an agency that knowingly leaves American disaster victims exposed to a whole new nightmare from the walls of their FEMA-built temporary homes." Read Landrieu's letter here.
Louisiana's $12 billion day
When the president vetoed the WRDA bill on November 2, both legislative chambers vowed to push the domestic spending bill for water projects through. The first veto override of Bush's presidency was passed by a comfortable margin yesterday.
Late last night, a $459.3 billion defense bill cleared the House and Senate. Contained in the bill was $2 billion in defense spending for Louisiana, and a late insert, by La. Senator Mary Landrieu, of $3 billion to bail out the state's floundering Road Home. Landrieu thanked her colleagues after the vote:
Today was a truly historic, $12 billion day for Louisiana. Congress made a $3 billion pledge to Louisiana homeowners to ensure they receive their Road Home grants to rebuild and recover. Republicans and Democrats joined together to buck the President's opposition to the WRDA bill, marking the first veto override of this presidency. The support shown for Louisiana tonight is a powerful demonstration of this Congress' commitment to fully funding our state's rebuilding from the 2005 hurricanes and levee failures. We are grateful for the steadfast partnership shown by the many Senators without whom tonight's victory would have been impossible.
"This is a great victory for Louisiana's recovery," Governor Blanco said after the House, but before the Senate passed the legislation.
Today's House vote sends a message to homeowners still struggling to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that Congress is committed to fulfilling the federal promise to Gulf Coast residents. But this is only one step towards filling the Road Home shortfall - the Senate will consider the matter next, and I urge them and President Bush to support this critical funding to prevent the Road Home from running short.
Governor-elect and U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal was in Washington for both votes. "This is a huge step," he told The Advocate. "The government has made promises to these families and they need to keep these promises."
End the week right
SI: Superdome No. 18 in NFL "fan value experience"
Two years later, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's commitment to rebuild and upgrade the Superdome keeps paying off. Sports Illustrated just released a comprehensive fan survey of the 32 NFL stadiums, and the Superdome clocks in at a highly respectable 18 on the list. (Green Bay's Lambeau Field earned the top spot, while New York's Giants Stadium came in last.) SI ranked stadiums through a combined score based on seven categories: ticket prices, food and souvenirs, accessibility, tailgating, team, stadium atmosphere and neighborhood. Here's one quote:
"In our post-Katrina world … the facility is a place we can unite as a community. It is a very emotional place for many people for many reasons. It is a communal home away from home ... a place to see old friends and restore some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise messed-up situation."
Saints fans will unite there this Sunday to see if the team can extend its four-game winning streak by stomping the winless St. Louis Rams. Read SI's full report on the Superdome here.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
School board approves re-organization; appoints Mark Babineaux
In other news, the school board has appointed Mark Babineaux as an interim member to fill the vacancy being created by departing District 1 board member Russell Meyer. A local attorney, Babineaux was one of five applicants for the post. He will serve on the board until a special election, now scheduled for October 2008, can decide a permanent replacement for Meyer.
Former Abbeville city attorney indicted
Kosarek faces one count of making a false statement to a bank in connection with his private practice as a real estate attorney. In 2005 he agreed to resign permanently from the practice of law after the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel launched an investigation into allegations he mishandled client money. The state Supreme Court had placed him under suspension in 2004.
Kosarek is set for arraignment in federal court Dec. 18.
The federal charge of making a false statement to a bank carries up to 30 years in prison.
Cleaning up Capitol Lake
The depleted lake triggered complaints from nearby residents and others that a usually scenic part of the State Capitol complex had suddenly become an eyesore.
Waiting for rain to cover the problem triggered even more criticism on Wednesday.
Asked if his office had gotten complaints, Jones replied, "Oh yeah."
Into the wild
photo: racoon by John Fuselier@
Vitter's Hustler nightmare
The Hustler issue is hitting newsstands a week after the news that Vitter could be subpoenaed by the D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey to testify at a Nov. 28 hearing about his involvement with one of the madam's "escorts." Vitter's phone number appeared five times in the D.C. Madam's phone records between 1999 and 2001.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Lafayette PD may take over SafeSpeed vans
The constitutionality of such programs have been successfully challenged in other states, and at least two local residents have raised the issue of whether SafeSpeed operators are required by law to hold a private investigator's license.
The SafeSpeed program is one component of local government's contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian company whose U.S. operations are based in Arizona. The contract also calls for the installation and monitoring of red light runners via cameras at intersections.
A clarion call for LA-4
Eighty-four percent of Louisiana public school students live at or below the poverty line.
This must be a mistake or a typographical error. It can't possibly be true that more than 8 out of every 10 students in Louisiana's public school system come from such economic hardship — which frequently affects academic performance — that he or she qualifies for a free or reduced lunch. Have we failed our children so miserably that we're a mere 16 percentage points away from a scenario where all public school students spends part of their day wondering where their next meal is coming from, or whether their family can pay the rent?
"One of the reasons that number is so high is as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita," says Lauren Veasey, associate program officer for SEF. "When the students were reentered at other schools, they automatically qualified for free lunches, and now they're reclassified as low-income. The reality of the storms is they displaced not just students, but families who are still struggling after the storms."
There is no comfort in the post-storm spike. Independent editor Scott Jordan looks at the numbers – including for Lafayette Parish – and sounds the call for further expansion and outreach of the LA-4 program. Read his complete Leadoff column here.
Jo-El Sonnier at Louisiana Crossroads
Pierre, Durel take sides in District 44
Meanwhile, City-Parish President Joey Durel is stepping out on behalf of Rickey Hardy. "I've worked with Rickey very well for four years," Durel says. "Rickey is much more principled in his decision making than he is political. " Durel continues, "I've spent more time in my office with [Rickey Hardy] than I have with his opponent. [Chris Williams] has never come to my office to discuss an issue in four years that I've been in office." Read the whole story here.
House overrides Bush's WRDA veto
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu explains that the cost of the bill is the result of not enacting a water bill in seven years. "The price tag is in line with what would have been spent over this period if a WRDA bill had been signed into law every two years as intended, and the price of inaction is far greater, as witnessed by the more than $150 billion and climbing cost of Katrina and Rita recovery.
The bill authorizes approximately $7 billion for Louisiana's coastal restoration, navigation, levee and floodwall projects and funding to help move both public and private facilities which will be affected by the closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.
The Senate, which approved the bill 81-12 in September is expected to vote to override the veto as early as today.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Durel's Pet Shop now just The Pet Shop
"Four years ago when my husband and I bought this business it was with the understanding that we would one day make it our own," Josette says. "We thank the Durels for graciously allowing us to use their name for the past four years and want them to know that we were proud to represent such a great bunch of people."
The name change comes as no surprise to the Durel family. "When we sold the stores in order to better serve in elected office, we knew the day would come when the Lejeunes would want to start their own tradition," says Joey Durel, whose father, Lester, started the pet biz in 1951. At one time the Durels also had locations in the Oil Center, which the family closed, and the Mall of Acadiana, which the LeJeunes shut down shortly after taking over the business.
A hodge-podge of housing after the hurricanes
R. Allen Eskew, a Crescent City architect whose firm designed the ultra modern Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on the UL campus, told the New York Times the building effort is "generica" born of an "irrational self-determination." Eskew bemoans the lack of a master plan:
With the ad hoc repair to the city, New Orleans is missing a golden opportunity. If your city has been destroyed, you've got a chance to make things right, not just to replace what was there. There is a tremendous amount of money being spent fixing things. The question is, is the fix of old paradigms the right way to get a community back in shape?
We need a Marshall Plan here.
There were many offers from urban planners soon after the floodwaters receded, but the mixture of indifference from the federal government and political infighting at the local level sent internationally acclaimed planners like Andres Duany packing. The tension between honoring the historic quality of neighborhoods which are filled with Greek Revival, Italinate and Creole cottages, acknowledging modern design, and responding to the immediate need for housing is a tricky line to walk.
Dr. Edward Blakely, who is heading up the city's recovery effort says he wishes there had been a plan put in place from day one. But he concedes it's two years too late to begin a design process that would stop building by home owners. Blakely just wants to see progress, whatever the architectural result. "I just want building to go on. We're going to let people do what they think is right."
For a slide show of post-storm houses going up in New Orleans, click here.
LPTFA gets $50 million for home-owner assistance
The $50 million bond allocation, approved by Gov. Kathleen Blanco through executive order, comes on the heels of $30 million in Go Zone bonds the organization received over the summer for the same program. The two bond issues are the first the LPTFA has received for assisting home buyers since 1995. LPTFA chairman Greg Gachassin, who has brought a renewed focus to the nonprofit's mortgage loan assistance, says the need in Lafayette is great, largely due to a lack of affordable housing. Gachassin says recent reports show Lafayette to be in immediate need of some 5300 housing units for low to median income workers. "That's a lot," Gachassin says. "When you average three to four people per household, that's 20 plus thousand people. That's a big piece of our population."
TV writers' strike threatens rare Fats Domino appearance
If Domino still goes to New York as planned, he's also scheduled to perform Friday morning on NBC's The Today Show.
As previously reported in The Independent Weekly, Goin' Home includes two tracks from Acadiana artists: Lil' Band o' Gold with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, and Carencro soul man Marc Broussard with mandolinist Sam Bush.
No progress on La. cottages
The letter came days after a housing board special meeting in which the panel approved putting the first 75 units - out of a planned 534 - at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans. But the board also wrangled over a proposed $900,000 contract for a construction manager, which essentially would serve as a third-party monitor of the Cypress Group and its subcontractors, which include the Shaw Group. ...
As of Monday, Mississippi, which was awarded $281 million for its alternative housing program, has constructed 598 units with 478 occupied. Mississippi has from the beginning taken a slightly different approach than Louisiana, though both states operated within federal guidelines.
Monday, November 05, 2007
W. Pont Des Mouton Road widening completed
WRDA on track for veto override
I am extremely disappointed with the President's veto last week of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that was passed out of the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities.
In a brush with irony from a President who has racked up more than $3 trillion in debt since taking office, President Bush now claims that WRDA ‘lacks fiscal discipline.'
But replacing aging infrastructure is sound fiscal policy and a wise investment in our future. Letting our nation's infrastructure deteriorate and failing to invest in our national flood control, navigation and environmental restoration projects will cost the American taxpayer dearly down the road. For Louisiana, the bill will help protect our communities and energy infrastructure from future hurricanes rising out of the Gulf.
The President does accurately point out that this WRDA bill is very costly. However, the increased cost of this bill is the result of not passing a bill in seven years due to partisan gridlock. The cost of this bill is in line with what would have been spent over this period if a WRDA bill had been signed into law every two years as intended.
Without the authorizations in this bill, Louisiana's coast will continue to wash away at an alarming rate, leaving our communities perilously exposed to flooding and the energy infrastructure that serves the entire nation in grave danger.
I stand united with the Louisiana delegation to work to override the veto in the House and Senate. With so much on the line for our state, we will fight to enact this vital bill with or without the President's consent.
Governor Blanco followed with this statement:
I am extremely disappointed President Bush has chosen to veto this critical legislation. WRDA has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, and the projects authorized by this bill are vital to the restoration and progress of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. These projects will give our people confidence the federal failures of 2005 will not happen again. Strengthening our levees, repairing our wetlands, and closing the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet will allow our communities to rebuild and prepare for storms of the future.
I thank the members of Louisiana's Congressional Delegation for their continued support of this essential legislation. We must now take immediate action to override the President's veto. I call upon Congress to fulfill the promise made to the people of the Gulf Coast by the federal government two years ago. WRDA is needed, and it is needed now. Our nation has waited six years, and we cannot wait any longer.
Senator Vitter, and Congressmen Boustany, Melancon, Baker, Alexander and Governor-elect Jindal all went on the record pledging to vote to pass the bill. Jindal says he will return to Washington this week to vote for the override.
The WRDA bill was passed by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 381-40 and approved by the US Senate by a vote of 81-12. This is the fifth bill the president has vetoed, and will be the first one overridden, if the vote in Congress passes. Currently the bill is scheduled to be voted on Tuesday in the House and Wednesday in the Senate.
Shreveport paper: ethics board part of corrupt image
Acting ethics administrator Kathleen Allen told the paper that the board is restricted by law from commenting on certain aspects of complaints and investigations.
The Times' investigation, a nonscientific survey of seven southern states and those on both coasts and the Midwest, was prompted by a 2001 Center for Public Integrity Report that showed watchdog agencies underfunded and lacking independent authority to effectively enforce ethics laws or investigate violations.
The survey also showed:
Louisiana was one of only two states that did not keep track of the number of complaints it received. The state also did not count the number of those complaints that resulted in a settlement or public hearing.
Acadiana delegation members jockeying for leadership positions
The top tier names mentioned for House speaker include Democratic Reps. Don Cazayoux of New Roads; Karen Carter of New Orleans; Jim Fannin of Jonesboro and Rick Gallot of Ruston. Hunter Greene of Baton Rouge and Jim Tucker of Terrytown are the only Republicans. Tucker, however, as chairman of the GOP caucus, is seen as the frontrunner.
On the Senate side, Chaisson has emerged as a compromise candidate, offering balance to a Republican speaker as a Democratic president. Touting himself as a pro-business moderate, Chaisson has formed a bipartisan coalition with Sen. Mike Michot of Lafayette, along with others. Michot told reporters last week that he would be comfortable with Chaisson as a compromise choice. In return, Michot could be tapped for an important position, like chairman of the finance committee, although Chaisson says he hasn't gotten that far into the process. "I met with Gov.-elect Jindal and I was very impressed," Chaisson says. "I know we can make great strides in the Senate and help offer up a bipartisan body, because he will need it to accomplish his goals."
Currently, others seeking the Senate presidency include Democratic Sens. Robert Adley of Benton, Willie Mount of Lake Charles, Joe McPherson of Woodworth and Edwin Murray of New Orleans. Michot is the only Republican who has been mentioned thus far. – Jeremy Alford
Vitter could testify about scandal
The subpoena puts Vitter, especially, in an awkward and politically damaging position. The Senate Republican caucus welcomed Vitter back into the fold after his public confession in July, but it remains to be seen how much patience Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will show if Vitter's troubles remain in the news. McConnell acted swiftly to condemn Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, after it became public that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges after being arrested in a gay-sex sting in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Craig has faced intense pressure from his own caucus to resign from the Senate but has refused and has sought to withdraw the guilty plea.
Legal experts say Vitter has little grounds to avoid testifying, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court said former President Bill Clinton had to provide testimony in Paula Jones' civil lawsuit.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Tsunami's Ezell named to Jindal's small business team
Last year, State Sen. Mike Michot noted, "She takes the politics of her community very seriously. She works behind the scenes quite often, as well as giving financial support, and I think that's because she's the mother of small children and a business owner."
Countdown to Saban Bowl
So, it's mainly self-esteem that is on the line in tomorrow's 4 p.m. match-up, and a chance for LSU Coach Les Miles to prove himself once and for all. Aside from all the coaching drama, Saturday's game also has huge implications for the SEC West division title, not to mention the Tigers' national title hopes. Like it or not, the focus is likely to be on Saban, a coach who in 2003 brought LSU their first national title in 45 years. Check out this video on LSU's love/hate relationship with their former coach, put together by the college football sports blogs Every Day Should be Saturday and Rocky Top Talk.
Lafayette's banner music weekend
Deep South Festival of Writers convenes today
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Louisiana military families' red tape nightmare
Starting today, Louisiana residents who are members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard and have served a minimum of 30 days' active duty or active state service since September 11, 2001 may apply for financial relief from the Louisiana Military Family Assistance fund.
The Independent Weekly has been tracking the LMAF for more than a year. In a story from this week's issue titled "Red Tape Nightmare," Independentb contributing writer Jeremy Alford writes:
In the time it has taken state government to fully implement a direct financial-aid program for military families in need, Pam Berryman has helplessly witnessed her son's life unwind. That's two years and four months of living hell, she says, with every passing second as vivid and shocking as the previous one.
Her son Christopher served 18 months in Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Infantry before returning home in the fall of 2005. After a few weeks of no active duty, Christopher's military insurance lapsed. He was paying full price for his infant daughter's doctor visits and absurd amounts of cash for his wife's medicine. But before he could even get a handle on the situation, Hurricane Rita plowed through his Lake Charles home. Insult to injury would be an understatement. At only age 24, he was faced with a lifetime of misery in just a few short months. "His house suffered severe damage, and his medical bills were piling up," recalls Berryman. "We didn't know where to turn, and my son was just being tossed around, sent from one agency to the next."
Both Rita and Katrina were key factors in the delayed implementation of the Louisiana Military Family Assistance Fund, which was created to award need-based grants to families of Louisiana National Guard and Reserve forces called to active duty since the Sept. 11, terrorist attacks in 2001. Berryman got wind of the program through media reports that year and started an endless battle of her own that has produced a litany of e-mail messages, personal correspondence and direct phone calls to all levels of government, even Congress — all to no avail.
Read the whole story here.
Lafayette's Sellers appointed to Jindal administration
PETA cracks down on Giant Omelette Celebration
This year the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals decided to join in the fun. Cecil Hebert, president of the Giant Omelette Celebration received "an eggciting offer" from PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange, who has close family ties to Abbeville.
I am proud of my Cajun heritage; my dad has even taught me how to make a mean vegetarian gumbo--lots of okra, but hold the shrimp! I know that the people of Abbeville wouldn't want to support cruelty to animals, but that's exactly what they and the Giant Omelette Celebration are doing by glorifying the egg industry.
Lange goes on to vividly detail the abuse done to laying hens. Happily, she has a solution to the problem.
Luckily, there's no shortage of tasty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes that don't involve animal abuse--like tofu scramble, which is a delicious blend of tofu, vegetables and spices.
Lange concludes by praising the health benefits of tofu and offers to send a trained chef to instruct Abbeville's Chevaliers on how to prepare the soybean curd scramble. PETA's offer?
If you'll change this year's "Giant Omelette Celebration" to a "Giant Tofu Scramble Celebration," PETA will donate every package of tofu you need.
Members of the Giant Omelette Celebration have declined to respond. For a full schedule of this weekend's festivities in Abbeville, visit the Giant Omelette's website.
Drew Brees and the Blue Dog
Doyle Bramhall at Louisiana Crossroads