Friday, December 28, 2007
Shawn Wilson applying for District 3 school board seat
Wilson, a 37-year-old Democrat, is currently serving as Confidential Assistant to state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny Bradberry. Previously, he worked under Kathleen Blanco as a deputy director for legislative affairs and as executive director of the Louisiana Serve Commission during her term as Lieutenant Governor. Thus far, Wilson and retired Louisiana Technical College administrator Shelton Cobb, whom Rickey Hardy recently recommended, are the only two applicants for the Distrcit 3 school board seat. Like Wilson, Cobb also ran an unsuccessful campaign this year for the District 3 city-parish council seat. Whomever the school board appoints to replace Hardy will serve through October, when a special election will be held for the seat.
LGMC buys second da Vinci robot for $1.65 million
The September arrival of Dr. Bruce Jones, a cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon who is renowned as an expert in groundbreaking, minimally invasive techniques, quickly brought the surgical case volume over first year projections. Jones has performed and instructed more than 200 cases with the da Vinci, which uses small incisions in the chest for procedures like mitral valve repair or a single coronary artery bypass. Before the da Vinci, the sternum was routinely cracked for these types of surgeries, a much more invasive procedure requiring a longer an more painful recovery.
"The two systems will add efficiencies to the operating room schedule, as well as allow us to accommodate the growing demand," says Al Patin, director of cardiology and operative services at LGMC. "One robot will be devoted to hysterectomies and prostatectomies and the other to the 13 different cardiac procedures performed by Dr. Jones."
Sunday is payback opportunity for Saints
Thanks to the weak NFC, it's a minor miracle the Black & Gold still even has an outside shot at the playoffs. But lost in all the final will-they-or-won't-they-make-it-to-the-postseason intrigue is the fact that this Sunday's game against the Bears is one that Saints fans — and hopefully, Saints players — have had circled on the calendar since Jan. 21. Not only did the Bears beat the Saints that day in the NFC Championship game to end the Saints' 2006 dream season, but a number of Bears fans crossed the line of sportsmanship and human decency at Soldier Field. Numerous incidents of hurricane Katrina-related taunting toward Saints fans marred the proceedings, none more egregious than the idiot who toted a sign that read, "Bears Finishing What Katrina Started."
The Saints can't control what the Redskins and Vikings do this Sunday, but they can extract a measure of revenge that a lot of people have been waiting for all year.
Pine Leaf Boys support good Coz
Corps misses deadline on hurricane protection plan
Louisiana Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter both responded to the delay in emailed statements. Landrieu commented:
It is extremely disappointing that the corps is again ignoring the intent of Congress by delaying their report. While it is essential that the corps get the report right, it is inexcusable for them to continue to delay when they have had more than two years to complete it.
The Administration has had years to prepare this report. Unfortunately, missing another key deadline will reinforce the fear many, including me, have — that they haven't adopted the right sense of urgency regarding coastal protection and that they're too focused on cost versus best engineering.
The Corps has indicated that a technical report should be ready by February. What the report won't contain however, are recommendations for projects. Sidney Coffee, executive assistant for coastal activities in the Office of the Governor says that the report would outline a "decision-making matrix" explaining how decisions on recommendations would be made, rather than the recommendations themselves. She told The Advocate:
So far, what we have is a report on a process, not a plan. Here we are two years later and we're getting a process.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Fire damages downtown pharmacy and gift store
Tenants living in four apartments above the retail businesses were evacuated by firefights as a precaution, but everyone has since been allowed to return home. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Teche Drugs and Gifts has been operating on the 500 block of Jefferson Street since 1945.
Best of the Beat to honor Cynthia Simien
Louisiana gains 50,000 in latest census numbers
New Orleans cooking unsinkable
New Orleans post-Katrian expats, settling into life in other parts of the country bring with them the quintessential flavor of the Big Easy, something no New Orleans native can live without. It turns out diners from Maine to Oregon can't live without Creole seasoning and Cajun spice either. Far from home, whether chef by trade or inspired by the flavors of home, former Louisiana and Mississippi residents are opening restaurants. Darren Indovina, from Bay St. Louis, who opened the Bayou Lunch Box in Monett, Mo. told Associate Press reporters:
At first, they couldn't pronounce things. They'd say ‘I want that big sandwich with the big name,' and that was the muffaletta. But I can honestly tell you that now they can all say it.
Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, restaurants drowned during the storm and shuttered for nearly two years are making a remarkable recovery despite continuing insurance disputes and the worries of their owners. According to long time New Orleans food writer Tom Fitzmorris in this week's issue of CityBusiness, Charlie's Steak House on Dryades, Maximo's near the French Market, Barreca's on Metarie Rd., Figaro on Maple St., and Katie's in Mid-City, written off as gone with the storm, will all reopen in 2008.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
C'est What? 2007
back at the most memorable, outrageous, humorous and flat-out dumb quotes of 2007 in this week's cover story. Read the wisdom from our elected officials, sports figures and local ambassadors of culture and tradition here.
Louisiana seeing increased overseas Guard service
Lafayette's McGoffin, Picard on CABL board
Board members are elected to a three-year term and can serve a maximum of three terms.
Founded in 1962, CABL works to improve the quality of life for Louisiana residents by raising awareness of critical issues, promoting sound policy and championing government accountability.
CABL also runs the Leadership Louisiana program.
Lafayette stop for Medicare prescription drug enrollment
Kids camp this week at Natural History Museum
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Trahan violated state campaign finance laws
When asked about the funds, Trahan issued a prepared statement to the Independent Weekly. He says that an inexperienced staffer unknowingly misidentified contributions from political action committees. "Those errors were all clerical in nature and consisted primarily of inconsistencies in designating PAC expenditures," Trahan says in his written statement. "We are in the process of correcting these errors."
In a telephone interview, Randy Hayden, Trahan's campaign manager, did not refute the PAC figures, which exceed the legal limit for such donations by at least 40 percent. He says the campaign contacted the state Ethics Board on its own recently and plans on returning any PAC contributions that were accepted over the legal limit.
Although the PAC threshold covers a four-year span — basically a lawmakers' term in office — the pattern of crossing the legal limit emerges in Trahan's reports during the weeks leading up to his Oct. 20 showdown against Independent Nancy Landry.
During the month of September, Trahan was already nearing the mandated $60,000 PAC limit, meaning his campaign would soon have to stop taking donations from special interests — at a time when polls showed Trahan and Landry in a dead heat. In all, $6,500 worth of PAC donations from health care groups and business associations were incorrectly listed in September. These inconsistencies brought Trahan's PAC total to $61,631, or $1,631 over the legal limit. Then in October, the same discrepancies occurred: PAC contributions were not correctly identified on Trahan's report — only this time to the tune of $20,757. Committees formed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry alone gave Trahan $14,500 in October.
As for fines and penalties Trahan may be facing, Kathleen Allen, an attorney for the state Ethics Board, says such violations carry a fine of $5,000 or the amount not reported correctly, whichever is greater. The figure is doubled if the mistakes were knowingly made. There could also be a "per day fine" for every mistake made for every day it went unchanged. All of those decisions are made at the discretion of the board, which has earned a reputation in recent years for waiving or decreasing fines.
"I fully expect this matter will be cleared up within the next few days and the corrections will be included in an amended report to be delivered to the campaign finance office by Dec. 27," says Trahan. — Jeremy Alford
Christmas Bird Count set for December 27
According to the Audubon Society:
The primary objective of the Christmas Bird Count is to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere. The count period, which is from December 14th to January 5th, in North America is referred to as "early winter," because many birds at this time are still in the late stages of their southward migration, so it is not "true" winter. When we combine these data with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, we begin to see a clearer picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
Photo by Dave Patton
Picayune praises Guglielmo's tax commission work
The conventional wisdom is that reform of New Orleans' property tax system was an after-effect of Hurricane Katrina. That is when the city decided to get rid of its outmoded and inefficient seven-assessor system, but the seeds of reform started to bud before the storm. Much of the credit should go to Elizabeth Guglielmo, who has headed the Louisiana Tax Commission since 2004.
Ms. Guglielmo has been one of Gov. Kathleen Blanco's most effective appointees. Not only did Ms. Guglielmo professionalize and modernize the commission's operation, she kept pressure on New Orleans' seven assessors to do property assessments that were fair and accurate. That was no easy task, given the intransigence of some assessors.
The newspaper itself deserves some credit for sparking the changes. A Times-Picayune investigation uncovered a significant gap between the average sales prices of homes in 2003 and their assessed values. When Guglielmo took over the office the following year, she asked New Orleans' seven assessors to come up with a plan to revalue all residential property in the city. They refused, so she ordered her own study.
The editorial goes on to say it was the commission's unmasking of those inequities that triggered the resident-led reform movement after Katrina, resulting in the city having a single assessor in 2010. Another important accomplishment under Guglielmo was the posting of assessments from across the state on the Tax Commission's Web site.
With Guglielmo's service coming to an end by virtue of Blanco's departure, the newspaper opines that it is crucial Gov-elect Bobby Jindal fill her position with someone who has similar zeal for reform and fairness. Click here to read the entire editorial.
Guglielmo plans to return to her former law firm, Voorhies & Labbe, in an of counsel position.
Barham state's top sportsman
But geography, more than anything else, likely factored into Jindal's decision, especially since a roar of dissatisfaction has erupted in north Louisiana due to the governor-elect's numerous appointments from the southern part of the state. As for Barham, even though he's from the piney woods of Morehouse Parish, he was mentored in part by late Terrebonne Parish Sen. Claude B. Duval, and spent childhood summers at the Duval family home in Houma. "I spent a lot of time over near Last Island growing up and I still feel like Terrebonne Parish is my second home," Barham says. "Even though I might be a redneck, I've always had a real affection for the coast."
Barham was among the very few north Louisiana lawmakers who took an interest in coastal-related issues in recent years, even personally sponsoring legislation with others from the bayou regions. As the new department secretary, Barham says that passion will continue and he plans to focus on challenges in the coastal zone in his first days. "That's something I really want to sit down and figure out with the governor," he says. "We have a lot of challenges."
Barham believes foreign imports will continue to be a hurdle to commercial fisheries and fresh approaches may be needed in the future. He also notes that recreational interests still need help recovering from the 2005 storms. "I'm hoping that the (recreational versus commercial fishing) debate doesn't become a line in the sand and it's something I plan on paying attention to," he says. — Jeremy Alford
USA Today: Louisiana's natural defenses at risk
On a recent trip through the swamplands near Lake De Cade, about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, Benoit motored his 20-foot bass boat through man-made canals and pointed to acres of open water that were once healthy swamps. The freshwater bass he fished as a boy are largely gone, he said. "The Gulf is right there. It's coming," he said. "And it's coming quicker than you can ever imagine."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
School Board moves ahead with Moss closure
Bruce Foods La. Gold gets plug in People mag
People says the 45-year-old food geek, a cookbook author and host of Good Eats, Iron Chef America and Feasting on Asphalt, logs 75 flights a year -- often shooting on location.
Evangeline Paint Store closing down
Newsmaker of the Year: Ray Authement
In 2007, despite a lengthy list of worthy candidates, we felt they were all overshadowed by an unexpected event: UL Lafayette President Ray Authement's retirement announcement. For that reason, we've chosen Authement as The Independent Weekly's Newsmaker of the Year. It's impossible to overestimate the ripple effect of Authement stepping down at UL. He has been the leader and public face of the university since 1974. For more than three decades, he's built a formidable legacy that's covered in Independent Staff Writer Nathan Stubbs' cover-story profile of Authement in this week's issue.
It's no secret that The Independent has been Authement's biggest critic in the last two years, primarily due to the secrecy and short-sighted vision he showed in the failed UL horse farm land-swap deal. In his Leadoff column this week, Independent editor Scott Jordan looks at how Authement can rehabilitate his damaged reputation before he leaves office in spring 2008.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Last waltz for veteran council members
Tonight's meeting will begin with recognition of all the departing councilmen, who will each receive plaques honoring their years of service. Each councilman will then have an opportunity to speak and say their farewells to city government. Looking back, Marc Mouton, who has served for the past eight years on the council, says that despite all the sacrifices required for holding public office, it's been a rewarding experience. "I tell you what, I'll never criticize anyone who ever offers themselves up for elected office again," he says with a laugh. Mouton notes several accomplishments of the current council including the establishment of a mosquito abatement program, tougher smoking laws, the Safe Speed and Safe Light program, and laying the ground work for Lafayette Utitlities System's fiber-to-the-home telecommunications business. "I was thinking about all these things today," Mouton says. "You know, maybe we did leave the city a better place. Maybe we did do some work that will carry on. It's been a great experience but it has it's place and now it's time to pass the torch."
LEDA's Florsheim heading to LITE center
"We're awfully glad to have him," says Lafayette City-Parish Government Chief Information Officer Keith Thibodeaux, who chairs the LITE Commission. "The LITE is principally, above all, an economic development facility, and he is LITE's first professional economic developer."
Florsheim has been with LEDA for the past seven years, managing the business retention and expansion program. He is currently making $75,000 a year. In addition to his training at LEDA, Florsheim is working toward becoming a certified economic developer through the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is studying at UL for his MBA.
Florsheim replaces Paul Cutt, who resigned from the position in recent months and reportedly moved back to the West Coast.
LEDA and LITE work closely together on a number of projects, and Florsheim plans to bring the skills he honed managing prospects and the contacts he's made in the local business community to his new post. "Hopefully, my taking a position at LITE can only improve that relationship, help us to do more together," he says.
Jindal's wheeling and dealing 101
It's nothing different from what former governors have done, but it's dramatically different from what Jindal promised on the campaign trail. Another old executive trick has resurfaced as well — the ancient routine of using a golden carrot. Former Gov. Mike Foster did it by linking issues like teacher pay to the passage of a tax bill. Outgoing Gov. Kathleen Blanco doled out state money for pet projects and also once removed a chairman for not supporting her legislative package (showing the carrot can strike back, too).
As for Jindal, his carrot was obvious from the beginning — the state's unprecedented $1.7 billion surplus. If that's the reward for lawmakers, then the sacrifice is swallowing the governor-elect's entire ethics reform package to be presented during a special session early next year. Can the Democratic-majority Legislature stomach it? Republican Jindal doesn't seem to care. "We basically said we're not doing anything else," he recently told the Associated Press. "It will take a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor calling a special session until they can spend that surplus and we said ‘We're not touching that until we get ethics done.' It's that important to us." — Jeremy Alford
Missing New Orleans, moving on
It's not New Orleans to me, and I find myself asking, ‘Where are all the people?' I see all the empty houses, and I knew once there was people in all those houses. Where are the people, you know? Where are the people? It's like somebody threw a bomb on it.
New Orleans students rile ASCE
Monday, December 17, 2007
Katrina cottages get mixed reviews
Acceptance of the cottages has become particularly pressing in Mississippi as FEMA attempts to evict more than 12,500 families from trailers. Amid growing concern that the trailers may contain toxic formaldehyde fumes, the agency has suspended the sale of its used trailers and has said it won't house victims of future disasters until safety issues are resolved. In Gulfport, where a Dec. 31 deadline has been imposed for residents to move out of trailer parks, FEMA officials say they are struggling to find suitable rental accommodations for 329 families. City officials will not allow the cottages to be installed in the trailer parks.
Downtown tapas bar Pamplona opens Wednesday
Pamplona is serving dinner Wednesday night and will launch its lunch business Thursday. The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, serving dinner only on Saturdays.
For the past couple of weeks, the Annesleys have been hosting VIP parties, and the reviews have been terrific. Tapas bars specialize in small dishes similar to appetizers and encourage patrons to share a variety of plates. Try the chargrilled oysters, duck breast with a citrus sauce, veal sweet breads with mushrooms and jamon serrano (a Spanish cured ham), and finish the meal with churros con chocolate -- a fried dough sprinkled with sugar and cocoa powder that you dip in a creamy hot Spanish chocolate.
The Annesleys pulled off an incredibly effective renovation of the former Chris' Poboys on Jefferson Street. You won't recognize the building; the restaurant feels like it's been in business for decades. At Pamplona it's as if you've stepped way back in time (its running of the bulls theme almost expecting you to see Ernest Hemingway sitting in a dark corner). "Basically, when you walk in, we want you to feel like you're in Spain," Karina says.
Joyeux Noel les enfants
Inspired by my return to Québec after 15 years of absence, this story was written one long winter night in 1998. It is the story of two Louisiana characters, a blind turtle and a one-eyed crawfish, who are projected into space by accident and who wind up in Saint-Boniface-des-Agréments (Saint Boniface of the Agreeables), Québec. The friends they meet and how they ultimately get home is the subject of the tale. On the way, the little Crawfish, Edvard, discovers his own roots in meeting the lobsters of Homardie. According to Cajun folk-lore, the crawfish of Louisiana were originally lobsters in Nova Scotia who followed the Acadians into exile. The rigors of the journey took such a toll that they all shrank from a few pounds to a few ounces. Edvard's discovery of his identity mirrors my own. In 1975, the young Louisiana singer that I was, ran full into his roots at a place called la Butte à Napoléon (Napoléon's hill) in Cap-Pelé (Bald Cape) New-Brunswick.
Richard is an international rock star, renowned for his devotion to preserving the French language, Cajun culture and the fragile Louisiana wetlands. Most recently, he has produced an award-winning documentary, Against the Tide, which aired on PBS, and organized a Paris benefit concert for those affected by the 2005 Hurricanes. His latest CD is Lumiere dans le noir.
His gift to the students of Marie Claude Bellanger's fifth-grade French immersion class at Acadian Middle School is a symbolic gesture; Richard is donating copies of his book to all the French immersion 5th graders in Louisiana.
Vitter toughs it out
Bradley earns Best Sports Book of 2007 nod
Friday, December 14, 2007
Michot named Senate Finance Chair
"I'm honored to be part of the leadership team in the Senate and Gov.-elect Jindal's leadership team," says Michot. "The process of putting leadership committees is like putting together a complicated jigsaw puzzle. When Jindal tapped Chiasson, he did tell me, ‘You're going to get Finance; I'm committed to that.' And he really tried to balance it geographically and across party lines, racial lines, years of service — a lot of factors play into this."
Michot landed the biggest appointment in a list that bodes well for Acadiana. In addition to Michot, other area Senate Chairman appointments include: Opelousas' Don Cravins for Insurance; Jeanerette's Troy Hebert for Environmental Quality; Lake Charles' Willie Mount for Health & Welfare; Montegut's Reggie Dupré for Natural Resources; and Morgan City's Butch Gautreaux for Retirement.
"We fared very well, in Acadiana to Lake Charles and down the bayou," says Michot. "Nick [Gautreaux] will also be serving with me on Finance, and when you put all that together, it's extremely influential representation for Acadiana."
Michot says his three top priorities and infrastructure repair and improvement, with I-49 South at the top of that list; doing more with less in government and taking a hard look at agency budgets; and paying down debt in the state retirement system to free up cash flow for other projects.
Energy bill passes Senate after oil taxes cut
The future just failed by one vote. The past was preserved. The oil companies are now celebrating in their boardrooms.
The bill included tax breaks for wind and solar projects while reducing breaks for the biggest oil and gas companies. Landrieu sent out a press release at noon yesterday, explaining her "no" vote.
One-sided policymaking solves few problems, and America's path forward depends on a comprehensive, balanced approach to energy conservation and domestic production. We must invest in smart energy solutions for the future, but not at the expense of the states that strengthen our energy security today.
While this package included positive steps towards energy independence and efficiency, it still left Louisiana and America's Energy Coast holding the bill. Our energy producers would be severely disadvantaged against foreign competitors, and our timber, pulp and paper industries would be restricted from fully participating in the move to innovative renewable fuels.
By evening, the taxes on big oil and the breaks for alternative energy sources lay on the Senate cutting room floor. What remains are increases in fuel energy standards for automobiles, heightened energy standards for appliances and buildings, and mandated use of ethanol and biofuels.
At that point, the bill passed with a large bipartisan vote of 86 to 8. It will return to the House, and if passed, President Bush has indicated he will sign it into law.
KATC holding D'Aquin to non-compete agreement
Fast-forward to December 2007 and D'Aquin is not only out of a television news job, he's out of the communications business for six months. Talks between the reporter and KATC General Manager Andrew Shenkan and News Director Letitia Walker over a $3,000 annual raise D'Aquin was requesting broke down when the station offered a smaller increase (he was earning an hourly rate in the range of $11-$12, about a mid-$20,000 annual figure).
D'Aquin resigned effective Nov. 30, with full knowledge that the employment contract he signed back in November 2005 included a six-month non-compete clause that prevents him from working in the "news, weather, and entertainment" business in what the contract defines as an eight-parish Designated Market Area.
Shenkan declined comment on the contract except to say such clauses are common in the industry. KATC ought to know. It's the station that several years ago successfully lured high-profile meteorologist Rob Perillo from chief competitor KLFY-TV10 with a lucrative job offer. KLFY sued to uphold Perillo's non-compete but lost. However, a change in the law that gave the clause more teeth means D'Aquin would today likely lose his challenge.
"I do think [the clause] is fair," Shenkan says, supporting his position by reasoning that stations invest time and energy developing talents like D'Aquin.
Read more about D'Aquin's dilemma in the January issue of Acadiana Business, out on newsstands Dec. 19.
Angelle staying put at DNR
Hailing from Breaux Bridge, Angelle was elected as the first president of St. Martin Parish in 2000. From 1998 to 2000, he served as the Vice President of the Huval Companies in Lafayette, managing the company's insurance risk management and overseeing the budget and strategic planning. Angelle also previously served as a St. Martin Parish Police Juror and as a petroleum landman in Lafayette from 1983 to 1989.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Police beefing up downtown patrols
Police say they have doubled the number of officers patrolling the area from evening to early morning hours, hoping their presence deters thieves. They've also launched a public service campaign, trying to educate drivers about locking their cars and not leaving valuables where they can be viewed by a potential thief. The campaign kicked off Tuesday, and officers found 41 unlocked vehicles along Jefferson Street, the paper reported.
N.P. Moss closes
"Our maintenance staff have conducted a thorough study and engaged the assistance of an environmental consultant to make certain that we will take proper action to correct the issue at hand," Superintendent Burnell Lemoine said. "The issue is that we have discovered that moisture is able to collect inside the brick wall of two classrooms that have exterior walls. This has not caused a problem yet, but we need to fix it before it does."
As a result, the school system is planning to relocate approximately 500 students from the school while the problem is addressed. Repairs could continue through the remainder of the school year. Eighth grade students are being relocated to Northside High School while sixth and seventh grade students will move to classrooms being set up at Good Hope Baptist Church at the corner of Willow Street and Teurlings Drive. School officials say only two N.P. Moss classrooms, 402 and 503, have experienced any water intrusion issues thus far. However, all exterior walls are being examined as well as the building's ventilation system.Hefner says he believes the problem appears to be structural, and could stem from the building's original brick masonry. He expects the board will be briefed on the issue as early as next Tuesday, when a special meeting may be called to approve a lease with Hope Baptist Church. Parents of N.P. Moss students are being encouraged to attend a meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the N.P. Moss middle school cafeteria, where Superintendent Lemoine and School Board President Carl LaCombe will answer any questions they may have.
New Iberia's Lourd profiled in Portfolio
Then he caught a break. He met a girl who liked him. The girl went and told a friend about him. That friend was the business manager for the Rolling Stones. One thing led to another, and the Rolling Stones handed him $13 million to invest. It was that easy. This money constituted their tour fund, and they didn't want to take any risks with it. "I went to my office manager and asked, ‘What do I do with this?' And he looked at me and said, ‘I dunno.' " Blaine was seriously unnerved: He knew how to sell stocks to strangers, but that skill had nothing to do with preserving a pile of capital. "All of a sudden, I got a real client," he says. "It wasn't from some cold call. I didn't want to lose the Rolling Stones' money."
Slide show and book signing at Pack and Paddle
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We're getting warmer
We've gone from a problem for our children to a problem for right about now, as evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, epic droughts in the Southeast and Southwest. And that's just the continental United States. Go to Australia sometime: It's gotten so dry there that native Aussie Rupert Murdoch recently announced that his News Corp. empire was going carbon neutral. The important political-world reality to know about the 10 years after Kyoto is that we haven't done anything.
The New York Times reports that America is maintaining its opposition to several of the treaty's basic tenets at the current global warming summit in Bali. The Times has also been running a series of articles on climate change's effect on American life. This week, they cover duck hunting in Arkansas and Louisiana, talking to hunters who say that they can no longer predict when the weather will get cold and stay cold, bringing the ducks down to southern wintering grounds.
Be sure to also read The Independent's story on Louisiana's reliance on coal energy and additional interviews on the issue of global warming with KATC chief meteorologist Rob Perillo and Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval.
Portions of both the Vermilion River and Bayou Teche are on the state's "impaired waters" list, largely because of high concentrations of fecal coliform — a bacteria used as an indicator of sewage.
Of the 188 businesses inspected, only 62 had the proper permits.
UL System first to sign up for accountability initiative
The VSA aims to strengthen undergraduate education while demonstrating increased accountability. It involves the implementation of a consumer-oriented, Web-based template called the College Portrait, which is designed to provide easy-to-read comparable undergraduate information on campus costs and quality. All eight UL System universities are launching the College Portrait on their Web sites and providing student data, such as cost of attendance and financial aid; student experiences and perceptions, and student learning outcomes. One unique aspect of the College Portrait is a cost-calculator that allows students and their parents to estimate the costs associated with attending a particular institution.
A system-wide launch of the College Portrait is expected in early 2008.
The Cajun/zydeco Grammy dilemma
King Cake is the title of Los Angeles-based fiddler Lisa Haley's recent album, which is nominated as "Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album" alongside Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie's Le Cowboy Creole; The Lost Bayou Ramblers' Live: Á La Blue Moon; the Pine Leaf Boys' Blues De Musicien; Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars' The La Louisianne Sessions; Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience's Live! Worldwide; and Racines for their self-titled release.
It will be a travesty and major embarrassment if California's Haley wins the Cajun/zydeco Grammy, which is why — despite serious reservations about the Grammy Awards and their relevance these days — I'm renewing my membership with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Deadline for membership to vote on this year's Grammy Awards has passed, but Independent Weekly Editor Scott Jordan looks at the flaws in the Grammy process – and still makes a case for NARAS membership – in his Leadoff column this week. Read the whole column here.
Teche Ridge breaking ground Friday
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Hundley trial delayed till March 24
All of the legal issues that need to be addressed before the trial will be heard at a Feb. 28 court hearing.
In 2004 Hundley and the officers allegedly secretly recorded the former chief's secretary, Jeanette Luque; prosecutors say such recordings required court approval. Also charged in the case are Michael Lavergne, former head of internal affairs for the police department, Brian Butler and Shannon Hundley, the ex-chief's nephew. It's unclear what kind of information they were seeking.
Luque also has filed a civil lawsuit against Hundley and the other officers, alleging invasion of privacy.
Oprah's nod to Ernest J. Gaines
Well, I believe in '08 I have found the answer to Miss Pittman's question. I have found the answer. It is the same question that our nation is asking: "Are you the one? Are you the one?" I'm here to tell you Iowa, he is the one. He is the one. Barack Obama!
Obama then entered the stage to U2's song "City of Blinding Lights." Watch Winfrey's remarks about Gaines' work below, beginning approximately 7:20 into the clip.
Playoffs? You kiddin' me? Playoffs?
Saints fans have seen this movie before. Quarterback Drew Brees and his teammates are saying all the right things about taking it one game at a time, taking care of business, not looking ahead, etc. For Black and Gold nation, this is code for WARNING: POSSIBLE LATE-SEASON HEARTBREAK AHEAD.
In a perverse way, running back Reggie Bush's knee injury – which will probably force him to miss the rest of the season – may be the catalyst the team needs. The grumbling over Bush's mediocre season and his botched pitch to lose the Tampa Bay game was starting to reach fever pitch and become a major distraction, creating headlines like "Messiah or Just Mess" and prompting national media outlets like the New York Times to start weighing in on Bush's woes. The furor only promises to intensify leading up to the January publication of Tarnished Heisman, a book that details Bush allegedly accepting cash payments during his USC playing days. If the allegations are proven, Bush could be stripped of his Heisman Trophy and USC could also be stripped of its 2005 national title.
With Bush on the sidelines, maybe the team can focus solely on football during their run to the playoffs. But for a dash of perspective, no one sums it up better than former Saints coach Jim Mora, in one of the all-time greatest coaching rants:
Call for artists
The Acadiana Arts Council has issued call for artists to enter their work for the second annual Southern Open. Southern Open 2008 juror Peter Frank is an art historian and art critic who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. With an extensive background as an art critic and curator, Frank is now editor of Visions magazine and a regular contributor to L.A. Weekly. He is also on the board of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), and he helped organize the 1991 international AICA conference in Los Angeles.
Here are the dates and deadlines for the Southern Open 2008:
February 11, entry form postmarked and email submission deadline
March 10, jury decision notification and artwork delivery information
April 28 – May 2 , artwork delivery deadline
May 9, artist reception
May 10, public reception
May 10 – July 26, exhibition dates
Photo: "Neighborhood Noah," 2007 Southern Open Blue Ribbon winner by New Iberia artist Lou Blackwell
Monday, December 10, 2007
Will Davis overhaul Louisiana's $29 billion budget?
There are high hopes for what Davis can do with the state's booming $29 billion budget. If her previous administrative style is any indicator, expect big changes. Davis has already been at the helm of a major reform movement that almost seeped into every corner of state government. At the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, she oversaw a dramatic overhaul she referred to as a "budgeting for outcomes" process. Division heads inside the department had to make "offers" and "counter-offers" for their budgets and programs, competing against other division heads for funding. In short, she halted the department's practice of balancing its budget by across-the-board cuts. The operational overhaul involved much more than budgeting. A new management plan was put into place with the goal of boosting accountability, establishing result-oriented performance and changing the overall culture of the department.
At one point last year, there was even chatter of implementing the system in other state departments, but we all know how much bureaucracy loves change and progress. But now that Davis is in line to become one of the most powerful people in state government, who knows what might happen? — Jeremy Alford
Destrehan too hot to handle
In their first 5A title win, the Destrehan Wildcats defeated Acadiana 41-21 in the Superdome, with quarterback Jordan Jefferson throwing two touchdown passes and running for a touchdown. Destrehan receiver Damaris Johnson had 44 yards on four receptions and five carries for 94 yards, including two TDs. He was named MVP.
Mixed perception of post-Katrina New Orleans
35.2 percent of respondents "somewhat willing" to support more federal spending for recovery, mindful that involves "expenditure of tax dollars," while 22.3 percent were "neither willing nor unwilling." Another 20.3 percent were "extremely willing;" 22.2 percent were somewhat or extremely unwilling.
Yet, 51.7 percent believed the federal government has provided too little aid. About a third believed the amount has been "just about right."
The poll suggests concerns about where the aid is going: Asked how well they think federal or charitable funds have been spent, "based on what you know or personally believe," 62.2 percent answered "not very well" or "not well at all," compared with 37.8 percent who said "very well" or "somewhat well."
Many of those who responded seem not to know much about New Orleans currently:
Roughly one-fourth believed parts of New Orleans remain under water; one-third believed the tourist-oriented French Quarter was one of the hardest-hit areas.
UL alum Stokley gets three-year contract extension from Broncos
Part of Stokley's emergence with the Broncos is because of the knee injury that's hampering teammate and former St. Thomas More standout Javon Walker. If Walker recovers and stays with the Broncos, there will be a 1-2 Lafayette punch at wide receiver for Denver for the 2008 season.
Congressmen hope to extend Go Zone
A total of 31 parishes, including Lafayette, are covered in the Go Zone, and the legislation has been widely credited with helping to spur the ongoing building boom across south Louisiana. In a press release put out Friday, Boustany says, "In the aftermath of both hurricanes, the GO Zone Program encouraged business investment to help the Louisiana coast get back on its feet. The GO Zone has been successful, but it needs more time because of the slow pace rebuilding has taken."
Friday, December 07, 2007
It was T-Joe from the get-go
Savoie's departure from the state post after a decade of strong leadership leaves a major void in that position and a lingering question: who will replace him?
High school football championships kickoff today
A new absinthe hits the market
Former LED chief Olivier jumps ship
So much for loyalty.
Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that Baton Rouge Area Chamber Director Stephen Moret would be taking over the department. Olivier, less than 24 hours later, was named Future Pipe Group's regional president of the Americas. The company in based in the United Arab Emirates, alongside the Persian Gulf. The company has offices in Houston and Gulfport, which is where Olivier will reportedly split his time.
Olivier, who previously served as director of the Lafayette Development Foundation, first came in contact with Future Pipe as director of the Harrison County Development Commission, when he heavily recruited the company to move to Mississippi. It's obviously a contact that has since paid off. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime," Olivier told The Advocate. – Jeremy Alford
And the Cajun/zydeco nominees are ...
Reid Wick, The Recording Academy's Gulf Coast membership coordinator for the Memphis chapter, says that usually each category is narrowed down to five final nominees, but the C/Z category's seven nominees indicate that there must have been a three-way tie for fifth place. Before narrowing the field down to the seven nominees, 32 entries were in the running; most were from Acadiana and included Chris Ardoin, Jamie Bergeron, Keith Frank, Corey Ledet, Lil' Nathan, Travis Matte, Goldman Thibodeaux, and Bonsoir, Catin. Musicians from outside the area included Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp, The Cajun Strangers, Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers and Tri Tip Trio. Winners of the awards will be announced in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
LeBlancs' libel suit against San Antonio paper dismissed
LCS Correction Services is not Premier's parent company.
Michael LeBlanc had no past legal problems at the time the articles were printed.
Charges against Patrick LeBlanc, Michael LeBlanc's brother, in connection with a charitable bingo operation on an American Indian reservation were dismissed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later affirmed the dismissal.
During his recent failed bid for District 43 state representative, Patrick LeBlanc and his supporters waged an aggressive pushback campaign against local media outlets -- including The Independent Weekly and KVOL 1330 AM -- that reported on Premier's Texas contracts. Former Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez pled no contest to three misdemeanor charges as a result of his dealings with Premier, which gave Lopez an all-expenses paid fishing and golfing trip to Costa Rica last year while it was being considered for the Bexar County jail commissary contract. Patrick LeBlanc and Premier have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to the contract.
Appeals court says firefighters reneged on deal
In the so-called "trigger litigation" case, the court said the city of Lafayette had the right to revoke a pay raise given to firefighters after they failed to take voluntary step-up promotions in an effort to reduce overtime pay. In agreeing to the conditional pay plan in 2003, which gave firefighters bigger increases than voters had approved in a property tax millage, the firefighters said they would stop refusing temporary step-up promotions. This practice involves lower ranking firefighters accepting temporary promotions to replace a higher ranking colleague who is absent; the alternative is to pay overtime to an off-duty, equally ranking replacement.
The plan worked for about a year, until the council passed an ordinance giving firefighters an annual 2 percent pay raise and another that limited the number of days firefighters could exchange work with each other annually.
Firefighters responded by refusing the step ups, so the council passed an ordinance in early 2005 to invoke the conditional "trigger," which reverted pay to the level approved by voters, with a 2 percent annual increase. In essence, the "trigger" stripped the additional money that was part of the negotiated deal, and the firefighters filed suit a month later, claiming the 2 percent pay raise had established a new base rate.
"The court affirms the ability of parties to agree to a special pay plan which included a condition to ensure a reduction in overtime in order to fund the additional pay," said Lafayette City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger in a press release issued yesterday afternoon.
The ruling is unrelated to the victory fire and police workers won against local government over back pay, a multi-million-dollar judgment that's yet to be paid.
State road projects get boost
Acadiana projects benefiting from the surplus funds include the four-lane expansion of Verot School Road ($15-$20 million), now slated to be bid in June 2008; the recently started Ambassador Caffery South Parkway South to U.S. 90 ($13 million); the resurfacing of I-49 from I-10 to the St. Landry Parish line (S7.2 million); and the replacement of the road foundation and surface of La. 104 from Mamou to Oberlin Highway in Evangeline Parish ($4.1 million).
Landrieu trolls for out-of-state contributions
The Wall Street Journal has a story detailing how U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's Washington, D.C. consultant, Tina Stoll, gave her the name of a democratic supporter, Norman Hsu. Hsu donated over $14,200 to the senator, and as much as $2 million overall to other Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, before being indicted for breaking fund-raising laws and cheating investors.
While the practice of trolling for funding nationally is problematic, it is clearly the trend of the future. The Wall Street Journal compared fund-raising in Landrieu's 2002 campaign with her 2008 bid for re-election:
In 2002, Sen. Landrieu's first re-election campaign, 54% of her contributions were from Louisiana. So far in this election cycle, 52% have come from out of state. For this cycle through September, the campaign has paid $150,000, including expenses, to Ms. Stoll's fund-raising consulting company, campaign-finance records show. Sen. Landrieu has raised $3.4 million, more than double what the two-term senator raised in the corresponding nine months of her prior re-election effort.
The Ernest J. Gaines Award goes to ...
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Council passes long awaited "smart code"
The new "smart code" has been a priority for city-parish president Joey Durel, who has been pushing the issue for more than a year now. Commenting on the fact that several other smaller municipalities, such as Abbeville and Youngsville, had already passed smart code ordinances, Durel told The Independent in October, "We're going to have a TND ordinance by Dec. 31 or heads will spin… We've got communities in Lafayette Parish and all around Lafayette Parish and all around Louisiana that have adopted something. We should have had the easiest route to do it. It looks ridiculous, I'm embarrassed about it and I'm ashamed of it, and it will be done by Dec. 31." The new ordinances go into effect immediately upon Durel's signature.
Michots at Crossroads
UL may have new president tomorrow
The board meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Claiborne building at 1201 N. Third St. in Baton Rouge. Public interviews get under way at 1:45 p.m., beginning with Dr. Clilfford Stanley, CEO of Scholarship America, followed by UL Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Landry and concluding with Commissioner of Higher Education T-Joe Savoie. The board can decide to vote immediately after the interviews or may delay the vote until Friday.
Climate change predictions rain on Louisiana
If you warm up the air, the air can hold more moisture. And the amount it increases is not linear; it goes up exponentially.
Global climate change induced rainfall is not the only threat to Louisiana. Yesterday, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change released a report citing the Gulf Coast as one of four national areas that will be impacted by climate change. The section on the Gulf Coast, authored by LSU professor Robert Twilley, looks at the causes of wetlands loss--water engineering, development, natural subsidence and rising seas due to global warming. He concludes by stating that "sea-level rise will continue for centuries after human-induced greenhouse gases are stabilized in the atmosphere," and calls for large scale coastal restoration projects "that would be sustainable against projected climate change through the 21st century."
New Orleans' growing housing crunch
Bleeding purple and gold
When Opelousas native and former LSU Tigers center John Ed Bradley's playing days ended in 1979, Bradley burned to be known as a writer, not an ex-football player. He pursued that goal relentlessly, and was hired by The Washington Post at the age of 24. He left home and went on to write six acclaimed novels, as well as write for GQ, Esquire and Sports Illustrated, covering the likes of NFL icons Donovan McNabb, Troy Aikman, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk and Archie and Peyton Manning. Along the way, he shut the door on his LSU career. He lost touch with all his former teammates and coaches and didn't want to dwell on his glory days with the purple and gold. But when his former coach Charlie McClendon was diagnosed with cancer, Bradley had to confront his past.
That set off a chain of events that led Bradley to return to Opelousas and write his stunning and poignant new memoir, It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium. "It's so weird to talk about all these things," Bradley tells Independent Weekly editor Scott Jordan in this week's cover story. "I never thought I would. I thought this was all behind me. Six years ago, had somebody told me that I'd be doing this and that I'd written this book, I would have said, no way."
The book has received rave reviews and recently landed at No. 3 on Amazon's list of the Top 10 sports books of 2007. Bradley signs copies of It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium at Books-a-Million in Lafayette this Friday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m., and at Cypress City Antiques in Arnaudville on Friday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Jindal No. 34 on Details' 50 Most Powerful list
That said, here's Details' take on Jindal:
If you want to know whether — and when — the Republican Party will gird itself to regain control in Washington, keep your eye on Louisiana. This is where Bobby Jindal won the gubernatorial election in a landslide in October. "Republicans are spinning this as proof the Democratic wave has crested," says Jason Ralston, a partner at the D.C. political-consulting firm GMMB. "Over the next few years, you will see them put [Jindal] out front as a face of the party." The born-again Catholic son of Indian immigrants, Jindal screams New South even when he's holy-rolling at Pentecostal revivals and calling for hate-crime laws to be repealed. When he's inaugurated in January, he'll officially become the GOP's most effective PR tool, motivating major donors and the Beltway elite with the message that hope isn't lost for 2008.
U.S. judge wants FEMA's plan for testing trailers
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt gave FEMA and its top administrator, David Paulison, until Dec. 17 to respond to court papers filed by a group of trailer occupants who are asking that the air testing begin immediately. "FEMA and Paulison shall, at the very least, set forth a detailed plan for testing the FEMA trailer units and, if necessary, for providing alternative housing for the trailer residents," he wrote in a two-page ruling last Thursday.
In early November, federal scientists were scheduled to begin testing trailers in Mississippi for levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen that can cause respiratory problems. FEMA, however, postponed the tests, saying it needed more time to prepare -- but all the while was telling its own workers to stay out of the trailers.
LUS accepts bids for fiber head-end facility
The building, which will house the bulk of the system's receiving, processing and transmission equipment for its telecommunication services, will be located in an industrial park on Distribution Road, north of I-10 near Acadian Hills golf course. LUS Director Terry Huval says the building should now be ready for use by April, 2008. LUS plans to begin offering phone, cable, and high-speed Internet service to Lafayette city residents beginning in January, 2009.
Jena Six plea bargain
Susan Hester Edmunds retires from Iberia Parish Library
The Iberia Parish Library is well known for being much more than a library. In the small town of New Iberia, the library hosts art exhibitions, literary readings, films, and summer workshops designed to attract older children who have outgrown story time. Hester Edmunds is the source of much of this activity, creating an open door atmosphere that welcomes suggestions from the community as well as generating hundreds of original ideas herself.
Hester Edmunds was working at the Daily Iberian in 1980, setting up the newspaper's morgue, when her husband, James Edmunds co-founded the Times of Acadiana. "I knew the publisher of the Daily Iberian would not particularly care to have as one of his employees, the wife of one of the founding editors of the Times. So I started looking for a job," she says. She was hired as a part-time community outreach, part-time reference desk employee, which quickly evolved into full time community relations. "I thought I'd be there for a couple of years," she says, "and here I am, 28 years later. It was so much fun and so rewarding I never wanted to leave. I had wonderful job offers from institutions I really respected, but I just was very very happy doing what I was doing here."
Hester Edmunds' interests tend towards the natural world. She has led workshops into the field to hunt for arrowheads, beachcomb, canoe, fish (drawing a protesting fish-costumed representative from PETA), track, take night hikes and learn survival skills. The outdoors has also come indoors--snakes, alligators, turtles, insects, even Alaskan sled dogs have visited the library. Kids learned everything from basket making and book binding to bread baking and chocolate desserts in her workshops.
Long before the revitalized interest in the arts generated activities such as Art Walk, the Iberia Parish Library was hosting art shows. Hester Edmunds says high points in her career as curator were hanging the work of native New Iberian and internationally renowned painter Robert Gordy, folk artist Clementine Hunter and landscape painter Elemore Morgan.
Her last show will be an exhibition of prints and handmade books by Caroline Garcia, who is currently studying for her masters degree in art at the Philadelphia University of the Arts. "It's kind of a full cycle way to end my career," Hester Edmunds says. "She was a workshop kid about a decade ago. She's someone I've kept up with. A lot of kids come back. It's one of the joys of this job."
Hester Edmunds says she'll take a little time off, before committing to a three-year naturalism course of study. "I'm going to start a course called Kamana, from an institution called the Wilderness Awareness Society located in Duval, Washington. So I'm going to be spending a great deal of time in the woods. And of course James and I will be traveling. And I'm going to slow down and savor the moment. That's one of my goals for retirement."
The retirement celebration will take place Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Main Library, 445 East Main St., New Iberia, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information call 364-7024.
New Orleans' rental shortage
More than two years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is suffering from an acute shortage of housing that has nearly doubled the cost of rental units in the city, threatening the recovery of the region and the well-being of many residents who decided to return against the odds. Before the storm, more than half of the city's population rented housing. Yet official attention to help revive the shattered rental home and apartment market has been scant.
In some core middle- and lower-income areas, blighted dwellings stretch for blocks on end, and the city has been slow to come up with ideas for what to do with those that have been abandoned. Last week, the city housing authority approved the demolition of 4,000 public housing units at five projects damaged by the storm. In their place, the authority plans to build mixed-income projects, large parts of which will not be affordable to previous residents.
Although repairs are being made and more housing is available now than a year ago, demand is still outpacing supply. ...
Read "New Orleans Hurt by Acute Rental Shortage."
Monday, December 03, 2007
LSU defies the odds
Yesterday, the BCS announced that LSU will play Ohio State in the national title game in New Orleans on Jan. 7. The improbable rebirth of LSU's title hopes came as a result of LSU's win over Tennessee in the SEC title game, coupled with Oklahoma's defeat over No.1-ranked Missouri and Pittsburgh's huge upset over No.2 West Virginia. It was the latest surprise twist in what has already been one of the wildest season's in college football history. Saturday's games represented the third time this season that both the No.1 and No.2 team lost in the same week. The final games promise to be just as exciting. If LSU manages to win the national title, it may well become the first team in college football history to rise to a No.1 ranking three separate times in the same season.
Lourdes, Heart Hospital join forces
In April, Lourdes purchased a 45-acre tract near the intersection of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Verot School Road for $14 million. The not-for-profit community hospital is planning to relocate most of its services to the new site. A couple of months before that, the physician-owners of the for-profit Heart Hospital signed a letter of intent to buy out their North Carolina-based partner, MedCath Corp., but the deal soon began to crumble. The physicians then rekindled
Brad Pitt to "Make it Right" in NOLA
Yesterday, The Times-Pic published a preview of the display and a rather seething interview with Pitt:
At the center of a buzzing construction zone in the heart of the worst-ravaged corner of the Lower 9th Ward, movie megastar Brad Pitt took a break Sunday afternoon to imagine the future.
Strewn around him a half-mile in every direction were hundreds of enormous pink blocks, 8-foot-high boxes and huge triangular wedges, representing the uprooted foundations and dislocated roofs that littered the area beside the Industrial Canal for months after Hurricane Katrina.
"Right now there are scattered blocks, like they were scattered by fate's hand, symbolic of the aftermath of the storm," Pitt said as crews installed more of the metal-and-tarp structures. "But we will be flipping the homes, essentially righting the wrong." ...
To learn more about Make It Right or to make a donation, visit www.makeitrightnola.org.
UL's not-so-subtle "landlocked" press release
Titled "Large Enrollment, Not Much Room for Growth," with the subhead, "UL Lafayette second to smallest main academic campus in acres in UL System," Wednesday's release again made the case for why UL needs more property. "The university needs to acquire land close to campus to make room for expansion," the release reads. "Constructing academic buildings away from the main campus creates major inconveniences for students and operating a transportation system is proving to be expensive. The cost of labor, buses and fuel is a financial burden on the university."
Look for Authement to strike a new deal in the very near future -- one that will have the university buying 4.1 acres on Girard Park Drive.
Trace Adkins' geography lesson
Geographically and culturally, Louisiana can be cut up into three different slices. The northwest corner of the state is a North Texas-type environment where the economy is based on oil, timber and cattle. Northeast Louisiana is river bottom, a lot like Mississippi and southeastern Arkansas, with lots of farming and agriculture. Southern Louisiana is Cajun-influenced, with cities like New Orleans, New Iberia, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge. (Other Louisiana natives may disagree, but don't pay any attention to them.)
Davis, Hebert testify to Acadiana's response to hurricane evacuees