Last Wednesday, Jan. 25, served up a double dose of disappointing headlines on crucial hurricane-recovery issues. First the Bush administration announced it would not support the Baker Bill, then the White House said it will not fully comply with a House investigation and would not turn over internal documents related to the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. (Gov. Blanco complied with the request last December.)
The dual developments prompted rebukes of the Bush administration from a surprising cross-section of top Louisiana Republicans. Congressman Charles Boustany Jr. told The Advocate he would continue to fight for the Baker Bill and called the Bush administration "short-sighted" in rejecting the plan. Regarding White House stonewalling on the release of Hurricane Katrina documents, Congressman Bobby Jindal said, "I think it is important for both state and federal governments to be completely forthcoming with the oversight committees, rather than worry about political implications, so we can be better prepared for next hurricane season." Sen. David Vitter was even more forceful, telling The Times-Picayune, "There is such a thing as valid executive privilege, but from what I have read, some of the withholding of information and some of the refusal to allow agency representatives to testify goes way beyond that." ' Scott Jordan
NOT GOING DUTCH
Congressman Charlie Melancon recently sent a letter to the editor of The Advocate explaining why he did not join a gaggle of Louisiana officials on a recent trip to the Netherlands to investigate the Dutch method of flood protection. Not only did taxpayers foot a large portion of the bill for travel, but there's no way the federal government would ever fund such a sophisticated project for Louisiana, especially when officials have been pulling teeth just to get a Category 5 levee system, Melancon writes. "I personally felt that with the current mindset in Washington the way it is, it was a bit like window-shopping at Neiman Marcus when you can only afford Wal-Mart. If you don't have the money, why even go to the store?" ' Jeremy Alford
DUREL RAMPS UP HORSE FARM PROPOSAL
City-Parish President Joey Durel has fast-tracked an appraisal of Lafayette Consolidated Government's 8-acre Youth Park, located adjacent the UL Lafayette campus, and hopes to know the park's value when he addresses the Save the Horse Farm group Thursday, Feb. 2, at 5:30 p.m.
Located on St. Julien Avenue close to Johnston Street, Youth Park is a key component in Durel's negotiations with UL President Ray Authement for the university's 100-acre horse farm on Johnston Street. Durel wants LCG to take possession of the horse farm as soon as possible and eventually convert it into a community park.
Durel's plan, which may also include donating a small portion of Girard Park, a cash payment (raised from the community) or other LCG assets, is being proposed as an alternative to the contentious land swap Authement negotiated with BRE-ARD LLC. As part of the initial proposal, the university would get attorney Jimmy Davidson's Girard Park Drive property, 4 acres and two home sites, for 36 acres of the horse farm (six would be donated back to the university after the sale), which are up for rezoning from residential to commercial.
Durel's address will take place in the Lagniappe Room of the UL Union on McKinley Street. A question-and-answer session will follow. ' Leslie Turk
WRITING OR CAMPAIGNING?
Tony Clayton, a special prosecutor in East Baton Rouge Parish, is releasing a tell-all book in mid-February, I've Been Watching You, on his infamous case involving Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. Sentenced to death in late 2004, Lee is accused of murdering at least seven women from Baton Rouge to Acadiana. "There's a lot in the book that has never come out before," Clayton says, such as Lee's motives, details on the murder weapons and entries from
private diaries. The book is expected to grab more headlines for Clayton, who
is positioning himself for the soon-to-be vacated seat of Sen. Cleo Fields. "I'm
definitely going for that," Clayton says. "We need some fresh ideas in there." Fields, who is term-limited, represents an African-American district that includes portions of Louisiana State University and downtown Baton Rouge. Clayton's self-published book is co-written with local authors Susan D. Mustafa and Sue Israel. ' JA
ALTERNATIVE FUEL IN LOUISIANA?
For the first time in the state's history, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has issued orders for the production of coal seam natural gas, an
alternative fossil fuel that can be found inside buried forms of coal at depths between 2,000 to 5,000 feet. The development of this resource has long lagged behind similar efforts in other U.S. basins, since there has been no commercial industry in the region. Also known as coal bed methane, this alternative fuel
will be extracted from three sites in Caldwell Parish. Mark V. Petroleum Co.
of Monroe is being allowed to explore and produce coal seam natural gas, but
no actual permits have been issued to date. "More commercial ventures like this will be sought out in the near future," says DNR Secretary Scott Angelle. ' JA
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.