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
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.