The 10 percent state and local funding match required by Stafford Act FEMA disaster grants was waived for New York after 9/11 and waived for Florida after Hurricane Andrew, but President Bush hasn't waived Louisiana's Stafford Act obligations post-Katrina and Rita. Now the possibility of a waiver is tied up with the latest supplemental spending bill for Iraq war funding.
The bill also contains a number of domestic spending projects, including more than $1 billion for levee protection and $25 million in Katrina- and Rita-related small business loans. Senate approval on the measure is expected today. Bush, however, is threatening to veto the bill because Democratic legislators have inserted language into the bill requiring that most troops in Iraq return home by March 31, 2008. ' Scott Jordan
STATE WEIGHS IN ON HORSE FARM BARN DEMOLITION
At press time Monday, the state's Office of Facility Planning & Control was expected to weigh in by Wednesday on UL Lafayette President Ray Authement's request to bulldoze the historic barn on the university's 100-acre Johnston Street horse farm property. Jerry Jones, OFPC's director, would not say which way his office ' which has assessed the barn's condition and potential liability for the university ' is leaning. Jones has been inundated with requests to save the structure, which some believe was constructed in the early 1900s (the university claims it was built circa 1940).
Community activists involved with the group Save the Horse Farm sent more than 200 letters in support of preservation, as did state Sen. Mike Michot and Rep. Joel Robideaux.
On March 29, Robideaux, whose district includes the Horse Farm property, wrote a letter to Jones requesting the state hold off on plans to demolish the barn. The group hopes Jones will deny Authement's request, at which time it will immediately move to construct a protective fence around the dilapidated barn while it raises funds for restoration.
"We will take everything into consideration as well as all the correspondence received before making a determination to approve the request for demolition," Jones says. It's unclear what happens if Jones says the building is worth saving, but if his office sides with Authement, the final decision still rests with the university president. ' Leslie Turk
SHELL NIXES GULF LNG TERMINAL
Shell Oil has dropped its controversial plan to build a $700 million Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, 38 miles off the coast of Cameron Parish. Company spokesmen say the decision is based on a reassessment of the market, not the bad publicity the project received.
Shell's proposed LNG terminal came under fire shortly after it was permitted, when it was learned that the methods it would use to reheat subzero LNG posed a hazard to Gulf marine life and fisheries. Shell suffered harsh criticism from a coalition of fishermen and environmental activists, who fought a losing effort in court attempting to challenge Shell's permit. Mike Lane of the sportsman Web site rodnreel.com, one of the leading voices of opposition to the project, applauded the news. "Whether the decision was made due to economic or conservation considerations," he said, "today is a great day for fish in the Gulf of Mexico." Shell says it now plans to partner with other companies' LNG terminals, either existing or in the works. ' Nathan Stubbs
60 MINUTES TAKES ON BILLY TAUZIN
In a story examining the prescription drug industry's high-powered lobbying machine, 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft peppered former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin with questions on his role in passing the Medicare prescription drug benefit bill in 2004. The bill was viewed as a windfall for the drug industry, and shortly after it passed, Tauzin left Congress and took a lucrative job as chief lobbyist with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Unfazed by the questions, Tauzin told Kroft he was motivated to take the job because of his own bout with cancer and the innovative drugs that helped save his life.
When Kroft quoted Congressman Walter Jones as saying the bill's passage was "the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years in politics," Tauzin quipped, "Well, he's a young member. Had he been around for 25 years, he'd have seen some uglier nights." ' NS
LOUISIANA JUMPS TO 41 IN PERSONAL INCOME
In 2006, the average personal income of Louisianians jumped 25.5 percent up to $30, 952 ' the biggest leap in per capita income in the nation. The increase moved the state from last to 41st in the country in a list of income statistics released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Economists attribute Louisiana's huge jump to factors stemming from the 2005 hurricanes, including a mass exodus of residents, many from lower income families, and a booming economy from the rebuilding effort. Mississippi, also hit by Hurricane Katrina, had the lowest per capita income of $26,535. The national per capita income grew 5.2 percent. ' NS
LAKE PEIGNEUR MYSTERY CONTINUES
Results of March 1 water bottom and sediment testing at Lake Peigneur from the state Department of Natural Resources' diver surveys and lab analyses to try to explain bubbling and frothy matter has turned up nothing. To date there have been at least eight episodes of bubbling water since summer 2005. While DNR Conservation Commissioner Jim Welsh announced that there is nothing harmful on the bottom of the lake, residents around the Iberia Parish site point to AGL Resources' two compressed natural gas storage caverns in the Jefferson Island salt dome beneath the lake. "Save Lake Peigneur" residents are opposed to AGL seeking permits to create two additional gas caverns in the salt dome and blame the facility for leaking. ' Mary Tutwiler
BOBBY JINDAL'S INTERNET FRIENDS
Did you know that U.S. Rep Bobby Jindal is a straight Gemini with average body type who makes between $150,000 to $250,000 a year? Those tidbits and more can be found at Jindal's MySpace.com Web page, as the gubernatorial candidate is the latest politico to utilize MySpace as a campaign tool. Jindal hasn't written any blog entries on his site but lists 98 Myspace friends. One note posted from a Jindal MySpace "friend" comes from thedeadpelican.com Publisher Chad Rogers, who says, "PLEASE win this election. It's been a rough three years."
Visit Jindal's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/BobbyJindal. ' SJ
[Editor's note: The Bobby Jindal campaign has informed us that the MySpace page referenced in the above item is not an official page and Jindal was not involved in creating or maintaining the Web page.]
CHURCH POINT, NOVA SCOTIA COMPANY REBUILDS HOUSES
The distinctive architectural style Acadian homesteaders brought with them to Louisiana came from Nova Scotia. Deep porches and steep-pitched roof lines that keep Acadian-style houses cool were designed to withstand the heavy snows of the northern climate. Now, 250 years after the Acadian emigration to Louisiana, two Canadian builders are offering to construct and ship prefab houses, built in keeping with local Louisiana architecture, to help hurricane victims rebuild.
Belliveau Building Supplies president Julien Comeau, of Church Point, Nova Scotia, is planning to send more than 300 1,500-square-foot houses to Louisiana in the coming year. The houses, produced by a Cape Breton company, come already wired, ready for plumbing and with windows already built in.
"In two weeks six men can have the kitchen, the bathroom, the finishing, the painting, everything done," Comeau told The Yarmouth County Vanguard.
Comeau is in talks with Habitat for Humanity to supply them with a 1,000-square-foot model as well. ' MT
FINALLY, A NEW ORLEANS REBUILDING PLAN
It took 19 months, but the New Orleans rebuilding plan announced late last week by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and New Orleans Recovery Chief Ed Blakely is earning praise as the most sensible and practical recovery blueprint to date for the Crescent City. Federal Recovery Chief Donald Powell and Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Andy Kopplin are among the plan's proponents ' marking the first time that local, state and federal officials appear united on a rebuilding and recovery plan for New Orleans. The plan calls for targeting selected sites in more than 17 areas including the Ninth Ward, New Orleans East and Lakeview, and using them as economic development corridors to encourage rebuilding and private development efforts around those areas. ' SJ
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.