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
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.