On Monday, Oct. 9, District Judge Ed Rubin awarded attorneys' fees to The Independent Weekly, essentially forcing UL Lafayette to reimburse the paper for having to file a Public Records lawsuit June 30 for the new Davidson appraisal.
Rubin ordered the university to pay the newspaper $20,491.50 for fees and costs; the university has not indicated whether it will appeal Rubin's award.
On Sept. 11 Rubin ruled that the appraisal of attorney Jimmy Davidson's Girard Park property was a public record, and the university turned it over a week later. The university tried to keep the document under wraps because the new appraisal was $1.75 million less than UL planned to pay for the property in the now defunct horse farm land swap deal.
To date, the university has paid $10,450 to appraise Davidson's property. Even before trying to negotiate a lower price for the land, UL President Ray Authement moved to order yet another appraisal ' one that ostensibly would bring the value more in line with the seller's asking price.
Davidson is a member of the UL Foundation's Board of Trustees. ' Leslie Turk
OIL ASSOCIATION ENTERING NEXT PHASE
The Louisiana Independent Oil and Gas Association has dropped the "independent" from it's namesake in an effort to cover a more diverse membership and expand its influence. The 14-year-old LOGA lobby is also on the cusp of offering its members special insurance benefits, which would be a first for such a group.
It's a long way from 1992, when 12 oil men put up $60,000 to form the group as a means to influencing policy at the State Capitol. Today, the association has a budget topping $1 million. Don Briggs, the association's president, says it was necessary to communicate that the Baton Rouge-based LOGA is open to representing other sectors of the industry, like service companies, land men, geologists and pipeline companies. Aside from money and clout, the additional membership will help LOGA reach more lawmakers on the local level, where opinions really matter.
In short, Briggs isn't just bringing more bodies into the fold, he's adding more voters to his roster. "To do what we need to do, we need more members to communicate with their appropriate legislators," says Briggs, a Lafayette resident. "Nothing means more to legislators than getting those calls from their hometown."
On the horizon, LOGA (which has 800 members) is planning to launch an exclusive insurance program for its members within the year. The details are still being hammered out, Briggs says, but two basic areas of coverage will be offered. The program, dubbed LOGA Choice, will administer a group health benefit plan and build a workers' compensation pool, which is an approach that others, like the Louisiana United Business Association, have implemented in the same region in the past with notable success. "This allows us to create a more flexible situation that is geared towards our industry," Briggs says. "The companies will actually own the coverage and it will save them a lot of money." ' Jeremy Alford
LOUISIANA MOVES MORE INTO THE RED
When state Sen. Francis Heitmeier, a New Orleans Democrat, dropped out of the race for secretary of state last week, he made it possible for Republicans to claim they swept both statewide offices this year without the need for a runoff. Jim Donelon of Metairie was elected insurance commissioner late last month and state Sen. Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge is now posed to be the next secretary of state.
"What is more remarkable is that neither of the victors was previously elected to their respective positions," said state GOP Chairman Roger Villere, Jr. Furthermore, the sole Democrat on the statewide ballot last month ' Heitmeier ' managed to carry only 28 percent of the vote.
It's unlikely any major changes will come out of the approaching congressional elections, but Villere says he has two more high-ranking officials to lean on to help prepare for next year's round of statewide contests ' including governor. "We are poised to make major gains in 2007 and prepared to take full advantage of the momentum these elections have created," says Villere. ' JA
GOOD JOBS KEEP KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL
The lingering effects from Katrina and Rita, coupled with the state's new minimum admission requirements, have resulted in a significant enrollment dip at public colleges and universities across the state. The preliminary head count stands at 195,556 for the current fall semester ' a 7 percent drop ' according to data compiled by the Board of Regents. Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie says one of the reasons the numbers are down is the economy. "We're experiencing a significant spike in job opportunities post-Katrina/Rita ' especially in the construction and gas-and-oil sectors ' and many potential college students are taking advantage of the opportunity," Savoie says. "College enrollments often dip during an economic upturn." Later this month, the Board of Regents will receive full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment data, which will further clarify enrollment statistics by quantifying student numbers and course loads. ' JA
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?