Gov. Kathleen Blanco is counting on Louisiana taxpayers to keep on smoking, drinking and gambling ' all for the betterment of Louisiana's teachers. Under Blanco's new proposal, the "sin tax" on cigarettes, alcohol and video poker could drum up as much as $120 million to fund raises for the state's teachers. The cigarette tax (an additional 50 cents per pack) could generate $88 million alone. The current Louisiana tax of 36 cents a pack is one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the nation. The funds generated could account for at least $1,000 annual increases for Louisiana's teachers, as well as college professors and school support staffs. Blanco is expected to face challenges from the alcohol and gaming industries as well as teachers unions that have stated the pay raises aren't nearly enough. Both the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators are calling for pay raises of at least $2,000. ' RRF
THIBODEAUX PLEADS GUILTY
Former St. Martinville Councilwoman Pam Thibodeaux pled guilty last week to voter fraud ("Council Controversy," April 13). Thibodeaux had already resigned from her seat a week earlier amid pending federal charges of falsifying information on voter registration cards during the 2002 election. After her resignation ' and until a new election can be held to replace her seat ' Mayor Eric Martin appointed Dennis Paul Williams, a local artist and zydeco musician, to replace Thibodeaux. No sentencing date has been set, but Thibodeaux could face up to five years in prison on the charges. ' RRF
This past Saturday morning, in the back parking lot of the Cajundome along Congress Street, the Louisiana IceGators sold off the team's hockey equipment ' sticks, helmets and pads ' as well as the team's warm-up jersey's from the past season. The 10-year-old East Coast Hockey League team once broke attendance records with more than 11,000 fans attending games at the "frozen swamp." But early enthusiasm for the team waned throughout the years, and attendance numbers dwindled. At their last game, with more than 4,000 fans in attendance, the IceGators went out with a bang, with a 5-3 victory against the Texas Wildcatters, but the Gators missed the playoffs for the first time in the team's 10-year existence. ' RRF
Ernest J. Gaines, UL Lafayette's writer-in-residence emeritus, will give a reading on Saturday. Gaines, author of acclaimed novels such as A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying, will read from his forthcoming book, Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays, which is slated for publication by Alfred A. Knopf in October. (The book was compiled and edited by UL English professors Marcia Gaudet and Reggie Young.) The reading, part of the Deep South Festival of Writers Series on Music and Writing, will be held at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on Saturday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m. For more information, call 482-2278 or visit www.louisiana.edu/uam. ' RRF
DEFENDING THE POOR
A recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision is making national headlines. National Public Radio recently examined how Louisiana provides a legal defense for its poor citizens on trial, and the Washington Post wrote: "Louisiana's system for funding indigent defense is perhaps the country's most bizarre. The bulk of money in each parish, or county, comes from court fees, in most cases local traffic enforcement. So some jurisdictions simply run out of money to pay attorneys." The state Supreme Court ruled that securing funds for defending the poor was not a judicial matter, but a legislative one, and that if there isn't enough money to provide a defense for the indigent, then it's unconstitutional to put them on trial. ' RRF
BAM'S NEW DIGS
As first reported in The Independent Weekly in 2004, Books-A-Million is constructing a $3.1 million store on a parcel of land at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Kaliste Saloom Road. Tucked away in Lafayette's Acadiana Square Shopping Center (across from the Mall of Acadiana) since 1994, Books-A-Million plans to move into its new 18,000-square-foot building in late August, says Jeff Skipper, a spokesman for the Birmingham-based chain. The new store is roughly the same size as the existing one, according to Skipper. The bookstore is leasing the property from Weingarten Realty, which owns the Super Target shopping center. Within two years of Books-A-Million entering the Lafayette market, Barnes & Noble came to town with a free-standing 30,000 square foot store just across the street from its chief competitor. Though the new Books-A-Million is still smaller than Barnes & Noble, the prime spot gives Books optimal exposure in one of the busiest corridors in the city. "This site has been carefully selected in hopes of developing a convenient alternative for book lovers in Lafayette," Skipper says. "Lafayette is a competitive market, but its residents have long been supportive of Books-A-Million." The store will carry more than 1,000 titles and will feature a Joe Muggs CafÃ©, much like the existing location. ' LT
GIMME AN "L"
The Daily Advertiser added another embarrassing error to its hall of shame in its April 12 edition. In the lead sentence of a front-page story that day, the Advertiser wrote, "The fear of lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union has prompted the Boy Scouts of America to advise all pubic institutions â?¦" ' SJ
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.