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
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Times Square impersonator crackdown; Israel shells Gaza school; Russia hit with sanctions and more national and international news for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
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Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
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The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
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Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
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LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.