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
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.