The debate over consolidating the almighty levee district boards continues to be more soap opera than public policy. Sen. Walter Boasso, a Chalmette Republican, filed a consolidation bill during last month's session that failed miserably without the support of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, but Boasso plans on filing another version next year and is holding a series of public meetings in preparation.
In a surprise move before Boasso's first hearing last week, the governor released a memo finally supporting the consolidation concept. It was a political trump card at best; Boasso's initial hearing was overshadowed by Blanco's announcement. The freshman senator subsequently garnered more ink responding to her move than he did commenting on his own plans. Furthermore, Blanco has left it up to a coastal panel to draft her version of the plan, and administration officials are pushing for it to be ready in time for Blanco's potential January special session.
If levee reform is not a top priority or Blanco decides not to call a special session, Boasso told a group in Jefferson Parish last week that lawmakers may combine forces and call themselves into a special session without consent of the governor. ' Jeremy Alford
GUNNING FOR BLANCO
Roger F. Villere Jr., the chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana, has given the governor his own ultimatum: Hold elections in Orleans Parish as scheduled or step aside.
"If Governor [Kathleen] Blanco will not allow an election, then she must forfeit her own," Villere said in a press release. ' Jeremy Alford
NEW OWNER FOR GRANT STREET?
Over the past month, speculation on the future of Grant Street Dancehall has run rampant as club owner Don Kight has lamented his struggles to keeping the business going. (This week, the club is hosting a "Farewell to Grant Street" concert.) As Kight seeks to move his business elsewhere, the building's owner, Tim Mahoney, a partner with Garden Properties LLC, says he has just reached a deal with a new tenant. Mahoney expects the new tenant, whom he declines to identify, to keep the building at 113 Grant Street open as a live music hall. Mahoney says the new tenant also plans to purchase the building within the next 90 days and will take over at the end of the year when Kight's lease expires. ' Nathan Stubbs
BOUSTANY'S HURRICANE COVERAGE
After lobbying the Federal Emergency Management Agency repeatedly for more flexibility on the National Flood Insurance Program, Lafayette Republican Congressman Charles Boustany Jr. is pushing an initiative that could bring an additional $30,000 to those who already have the federal flood insurance. Property owners potentially impacted by the coming changes in local flood-plane ordinances can use the cash to bring their structures into compliance. "This is an issue I have been fighting for weeks, and I am relieved that people who reside in dangerous floodplains will be eligible for additional federal assistance," Boustany says. The congressman is also pursuing a study to initiate several hurricane protection measures for the parishes of Vermilion, Cameron and Calcasieu. A part of the study could include a 12-foot levee system along the Intracoastal Waterway, an area with barely any protection that state lawmakers are investigating as well. ' Jeremy Alford
VOTE LATE, VOTE OFTEN
An age-old legislative practice allows House members to switch their floor votes, or even vote late, as long as their actions don't impact the outcome of a bill. The Times-Picayune blasted the concept this month, focusing largely on seven lawmakers who changed their votes ' days later ' on a bill to consolidate levee districts. But a number of issues are being overlooked in the ongoing saga. It was reported on Dec. 1 that Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, a New Orleans Democrat, was among those changing their vote to "yea." In a fiery written response, Jefferson-Bullock retorted that she was in the Senate when the vote transpired. According to House rules, she should have never been allowed to vote since she was apparently absent when the presiding officer announced the original tally. Rep. A.G. Crowe of Slidell has proposed a quick fix to the problem by drafting a bill that would allow House members to change their recorded vote only on the same day the bill passes or fails. Currently, lawmakers often have to suspend the standing rules of the House to allow this to happen; as such, Crowe's proposal legalizes a practice that is illegal rather than addressing the problem at all. ' Jeremy Alford
IT'S A START, BUT â?¦
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $2.9 billion to repair and strengthen New Orleans' levee system in a hurricane relief package that totaled $29 billion. That came on the heels of President Bush pledging $3.1 billion last week to build stronger and better levees ' with a bit of semantics that has many Louisiana residents, not just the displaced ' uncertain about the details of the promise. The president's current commitment will restore the levees to greater strength than their (supposed) Category 3-strength hurricane protection levels. But commitments to Category 5-strength protection remain elusive, and some critics fear that the Category 3 levee protection is merely a Band-Aid that will take Category 5 levee protection-funds off the table in 2006. ' Scott Jordan
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, December 10, 2013:
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration shared a collective sigh of relief with the news that Louisiana's tax amnesty program brought in the $200 million that they used to help balance this year's budget.
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine, particularly during night games in the Superdome.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year's Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If all 44 projects are approved, about $300 million would remain in the fund set up as a down payment to help the Gulf.
Last week, the Saints gave up 429 yards to Seattle, second most in a game this season.
Since Anthony Jennings and Brooks Haack were not expected to contribute until next year at the earliest, it seemed like a sneak peek at hidden Christmas gifts.
Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera sees one potential flaw with his team's stellar defensive play so far this season. "Apparently we like to bite on the double moves," Rivera said.
Computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of Louisiana residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies, authorities said Wednesday.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.
Hushed plans for a commercial development along the Louisiana Avenue portion of the Holy Rosary campus put the future of longtime tenant EarthShare Gardens in jeopardy.
If a recent advertisement in The Daily Advertiser is any indication, speculation the local daily will be implementing the “Butterfly Project” could be more of a reality than the Gannett-owned paper’s top execs are willing to admit.
Mettenberger injured his left knee while unloading a 32-yard completion in the fourth quarter of No. 14 LSU's 31-27 victory over Arkansas last Friday, and LSU coach Les Miles confirmed the severity of the injury on Wednesday.
An ordinance to phase out a 2 percent rebate to Lafayette merchants for collecting and remitting on time sales taxes cleared the City-Parish Council by a 6-3 vote.
Louisianans are the fourth most likely to use profanity yet also the fourth most likely to be courteous. So, please, just kiss my a** ... if it’s not too much trouble.
The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority voted Tuesday to authorize two lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A long night on the field in Seattle got even worse off of it, and now the Saints are operating on a compressed time-frame as they brace for surging Carolina with first place in the NFC South at stake.
Public school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion won't be affected by Louisiana's shift to more rigorous educational standards for two years, the state's top school board decided Tuesday.
Vitter told The Associated Press that he is sending an email to supporters Wednesday and is in discussions with his family about the possibility.