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
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”