This letter is to protest statements made by Toni DeBosier of the Department of Natural Resources to The Independent ("Log Jam," June 15).
Debosier observed that the Army Corps of Engineers issued three cease-and-desist orders in 2003 that resulted in loggers leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of timber on the ground to rot, calling it a "waste of resources" and the result of dictation by a "very strong federal arm." These statements are misleading to the reader. The Corps demanded that the logs be left because they were multiple layers deep and to remove them would require dredging and cause irreparable damage to the soil. DeBosier is aware of this.
Readers should know that the law providing Corps jurisdiction in this situation demands a permit for any dredging activities that take place in "navigable" waters, which by definition these were. In two of the three cases, the loggers were aware that their actions were not permissible. The Corps was rightfully exercising its duty when demanding that the logs be left. Louisiana's coastal wetland cypress forests are being threatened by a timber industry intent upon meeting a growing demand for cypress mulch. Louisiana is now asking the federal government for $1.9 billion in federal assistance for coastal restoration at the same time that Sen. David Vitter is trying to reduce regulation governing the clear-cutting of its forests, which provide protection for the coast. These forests are often the last line of defense against the encroaching Gulf of Mexico.
Recognizing the importance of these forests and the risk they face, Gov. Kathleen Blanco commissioned in 2004 a group of high-level scientists to study this very problem. Their report, issued in April of this year, did not sugar coat the issue: "Total loss of wetland forests is nearly assured in most of coastal La. without active measure to ameliorate problems."
These forests are a part of our coastal ecosystem. They are also important to our culture and our heritage. Indeed, the baldcypress is Louisiana's State Tree.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.