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
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.