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
At a recent fundraiser held not far from the banks of Capitol Lake, Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, spent more time eyeing the water body than the influencers at the party.
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:
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, April 21, 2014:
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.