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
Mike Harson's coffers show the advantage of incumbency.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote on an ordinance for final adoption Tuesday that, if approved, would give the city the green light to take over a stretch of Verot School Road from the state Department of Transportation and Development.
The Louisiana Association of Educators filed a lawsuit challenging the $60 million in spending through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
He's been out of office for nearly a decade, but former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is back on the campaign trail, urging voters to support his one-time colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu.
The unresolved fate of the ashes left behind after Ebola waste was destroyed in Texas highlights the problem U.S. hospitals and communities could face in disposing of their own waste.
While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.