President George Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco took further hits for their Katrina response last week when the Associated Press obtained videos of government briefings on the eve of the storm. Bush doesn't ask any questions during an Aug. 28 briefing that includes National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield's "very, very grave concern'" about floodwaters topping the levees and ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown's warning that "My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one." At the end of the briefing, Bush says, "I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared."
Blanco, meanwhile, tells Brown and others in a video briefing around noon on Aug. 29, "I think we have not breached the levee at this time." The National Weather Service had issued a flash-flood warning because of a confirmed report of a levee breach shortly after 9 a.m.
Sen. David Vitter best summed up the videotapes' content: "[It] makes it perfectly clear once again that this disaster was not out of the blue or unforeseeable," says Vitter. "It not only was predictable, it was actually predicted. That's what made the failures in response ' at the local, state and federal level ' all the more outrageous." ' Scott Jordan
BOUSTANY SECURES VISIT FROM HASTERT FOR RITA TOUR
As a high-profile tour of legislators including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert toured devastated New Orleans areas last week, Rep. Charles Boustany wrote Hastert and requested that the Congressional delegation also visit areas affected by Hurricane Rita. Hastert responded that logistics prevented the delegation from making the trip West, but pledged to make a personal visit in the future to tour Rita-impacted areas. ' SJ
ORGANIZERS VAGUE ON BLANCO RECALL EFFORT
The organizers behind an effort to recall Gov. Kathleen Blanco claim signatures and donations are pouring in but are unable to be specific on both fronts. Kat Landry, a Republican from St. Martinville, formally filled out recall papers with the Secretary of State in early January. State law grants her a 180-day period to collect about 900,000 signatures. The clock will tick even louder as Landry nears the midway point toward the end of the month. When interviewed last week, Landry said she had no idea how many signatures had been collected by her team. "I don't have a number, and I wouldn't release it yet anyway," she says. "We're taking it one day at a time right now." Landry has also started asking for donations through her Web site, www.recallgovernorblanco.com, to help launch a media tour, pay for promotional materials and retain the services of a lawyer specializing in recall elections. Again, Landry was unable to estimate any dollar amount. "We've had citizens sending in money," she says, "but I just don't know how much and can't release that." ' Jeremy Alford
3 OUT OF 4 AIN'T BAD
Putting aside that last weekend could have been a thrilling Division I face-off between Lafayette High and Carencro had it not been for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association's questionable ruling disqualifying the Mighty Lions (due to an ineligible coach on the sidelines), it turned out to be a shining moment for Lafayette Parish soccer, nonetheless.
On Friday night, STM's Lady Cougars claimed the Division II state championship title on the road, stomping Vandebilt Catholic of Houma 3-1. The excitement was a bit tempered by the defeat of Teurlings Catholic's boys, 3-0, to Lake Charles' powerful St. Louis in Division III at UL's soccer complex.
On Saturday, however, it was all Lafayette. Though the 1-0 score did not accurately reflect it, the Lafayette High Mighty Lion girls pounded Barbe's goal throughout the contest on UL's field, and the Carencro Bears' boys team, a third place finisher in district play, came up big with a 3-1 victory over Fontainebleau of Mandeville. ' Leslie Turk
WOOD AND PLASTIC OPPORTUNITY?
A recent study of forest product opportunities in Louisiana has identified wood and plastic as a promising business development option. Louisiana Economic Development states the market is on the verge of a major boom, and there is great potential for a facility built inside the state to produce planking, railing and other building products. "With the demand for housing construction materials nationwide ' especially in hurricane-impacted areas of Louisiana ' the total market for these materials is large and growing," says Kelsey Short, LED's director of agriculture and forestry. The U.S. market for decking ' generally used for residential and commercial decks, public boardwalks and docks ' was 3.8 billion linear feet in 2002 and is projected to grow 3 percent annually through 2010. In areas along the Gulf Coast post-Katrina and Rita, the demand for these materials could easily be higher, according to the study. ' JA
UL LAUNCHES ADVANCED ED DEGREE PROGRAM
In the fall, UL Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University will jointly offer a Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership. It's the first Ed.D program ever offered in Lafayette, where Ph.Ds are already offered in several areas. "There was a definite need out there for this type of degree program," says Dr. Gerald Carlson, dean of education at UL. The program is billed as a hybrid: it is designed to produce practitioners with an applied emphasis that distinguishes it from an academic Ph.D. At the same time, the program embodies the rigor, culture and higher educational standards characteristic of all doctoral level programs of study. Initial candidates for the program will include educators who hold a master's degree in administration and supervision who are preparing for a superintendent position or other high level policy-making job. ' JA
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.