White House officials are still holding strong to their decision to deny requests for e-mail and other correspondence from top level brass and other aides during the days leading up to Katrina. Journalists and congressmen are clamoring to get the documents, to no avail. It's an unfortunate trend that's invading other sources of information relative to Hurricane Katrina. Greenpeace, for instance, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Environmental Protection Agency in late August asking for a complete accounting of the agency's plans and discussions with industry in preparation for the hurricane. Since then, they've only received forms asking for Greenpeace to be more descriptive, according to Rick Hind, the environmental group's legislative director. Meanwhile, the private watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is still waiting on FOIA requests sent to the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of State asking for records and communications regarding the federal government's preparedness and response to Katrina. Since Sept. 7, the watchdog has only heard crickets chirping, but it recently decided to sue the State Department. "It is scandalous that our government is still trying to cover up its breathtakingly inadequate response to the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history," says Melanie Sloan, executive director of the group. ' Jeremy Alford
SMART GROWTH LECTURE POSTPONED
The Independent Weekly's Smart Growth lecture featuring renowned urban planner AndrÃ©s Duany and Lafayette architect Steve Oubre scheduled for Feb. 16 has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts with Duany's work for the Louisiana Recovery Authority. A rescheduled date will be announced in coming weeks. ' Scott Jordan
PRIVATE SOURCES PUSH COASTAL RESTORATION
With state government still trying to figure out how to merge coastal restoration with hurricane protection and levee board oversight, a group of private organizations has teamed up to sponsor a $250,000 oyster reef restoration project near Redfish Point in Vermilion Bay. The area, known as Cochion Shell Banks, is a hot spot due to the abundance of trout, redfish, drum, flounder, shrimp and crab. Over the years, hurricanes, subsidence and other conditions have deteriorated the natural reef, but that is being repaired thanks to $100,000 from Shell Oil ' oil companies have long been fingered as a contributor to coastal erosion ' and an additional $150,000 being raised by the Louisiana Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. "Restoration of the reef will help with our coastal erosion problem and should help to bring back the abundant fisheries that existed in that part of Vermilion Bay for many years," says Paul Bourgeois, Jr. of Abbeville, CCA's reef coordinator. ' JA
HOW TO DESTROY YOUR CAR'S ENGINE
Don't look to The Daily Advertiser for shade tree mechanic advice. A Jan. 28 feature article interviewed Melissa Duhon, manager of the Macro Oil Shell Rapid Lube, for pointers on how to change the oil in a car. After draining the oil, re-tightening the oil drain plug and replacing the oil filter, here's what the paper suggested to do next: "Let the vehicle down off the jack, start the engine. Add oil a quarter-quart at a time until the dipstick reads full, Duhon said. Let the vehicle run in an idle position for five or 10 minutes to make sure there are no leaks or drips." Three days later, the paper ran a clarification (not a correction) noting that it had "skipped a few steps in the process of changing a vehicle's oil." It stated you should actually add oil and replace the oil cap before starting the engine and letting it idle for 10 minutes. ' R. Reese Fuller
STATE STILL FIGHTING USDA
Records indicate that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had roughly $778 million sitting in its Section 32 account last year during hurricane season ' an account that contains disposable, non-obligated monies. Despite this lucrative fact, Louisiana farmers are still waiting on emergency aid. Bob Odom, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry, says he was recently told the money would take "some bit of time" to reach Louisiana. It's a sad showing, especially compared to the deal Florida got when Hurricane Charley hit in 2004. It only took two weeks for President Bush to get a relief program moving for them. "[The USDA] made a big announcement about money that was approved several months ago, and they still can't tell us when it's coming," Odom says. "It's a bureaucratic mess of the worst kind." The USDA is telling farmers to sign up for money, but the federal agency has "dodged" questions about how the cash will actually be split up amongst the hurricane-impacted states, Odom says. ' JA
STATE OF THE UNION, BY THE NUMBERS
A top staffer in Louisiana's congressional delegation offered this account of President Bush's State of the Union address last week: "The SOTU was 5,339 words (64 paragraphs long). Of that, rebuilding the Gulf Coast was only mentioned for 165 words (one paragraph). Rebuilding the Gulf Coast was not mentioned until 47 minutes into the speech, and was only talked about for 57 seconds. The total speech was 52 minutes long." Who says no one ever pays attention during those things? ' JA
The campaign launched by Foster Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission, to breathe new life into an oil and gas processing tax doesn't seem to be turning any heads. Campbell has spent money on radio commercials urging Gov. Kathleen Blanco to take up the issue, and he isn't shy about his intentions to oppose her ' or whoever ' during the next gubernatorial election. Yet the policy push, which Campbell first championed when he was in the state Senate, is a big loser, according to Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Independent Oil and Gas Association. "We're not even paying attention," he says. "It's pathetic and normal operations. He's been doing this for years, and he won't get anywhere." Other politicos have spent millions of dollars campaigning for the tax in recent years in hopes of opening up a new revenue base on the backs of oil processing plants, but they haven't had any luck either. Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, one of the most powerful lobbies in the state, says the timing is never right for such a proposal but is deadly in a post-Katrina society. "Campbell's obsession with a multi-billion-dollar tax is a recipe for more misery, not economic salvation," Juneau says, adding it would only be passed on to consumers and eventually be ruled unconstitutional, as it was back in 1981. ' JA
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.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 22, 2014:
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.