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
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
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.