Lafayette Parish School Board members may be running afoul of the state's open meetings law with plans for a retreat this weekend at Avery Island. The retreat was announced as a chance for the new board to informally socialize and get to know each other better. Board members now say they also plan on reviewing specific agenda items that are pending before the board.
According to the state's open meetings law, any time a majority of a public body convenes "to deliberate or act on a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power," the meeting must be open to the public with an agenda posted no less than 24 hours ahead of time. The law also requires a public board to keep written minutes of all discussion and actions at its meetings.
Board member David Thibodaux, who helped organize the retreat, says all media is invited. And, while acknowledging that state law requires the general public be invited as well, he wasn't sure how that would work.
"A retreat is just that," he says, "it's a chance to get away and meet informally. That's never been open to the public before, but that's an interesting question."
Thibodaux referred questions on the retreat to board president Carl LaCombe, who did not return a call for comment. James Simon, the board's attorney, also could not be reached by press time.
At last week's school board meeting, LaCombe deferred further discussion on several controversial items pertaining to Superintendent James Easton. The Daily Advertiser quoted LaCombe as saying, "Let's have a session at the retreat to discuss them more fully in a lot less formal atmosphere and hopefully come to some type of agreement so when we come back in two weeks we can recommend [action]."
The agenda items, introduced at the meeting by board member Greg Awbrey, would remove Easton from his seat at the center of the board's desk during meetings and give him less control over meeting agendas.
As of press time, the board was still finalizing its agenda for the retreat, which takes place Jan. 26-27 at the Marsh House in Avery Island. Superintendent Easton has been invited to attend on Jan. 27. ' Nathan Stubbs
It was such a foregone conclusion that his official e-mail announcement was the epitome of anticlimactic, but Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal made it official this week: he's running for governor. That sets up a rematch of the 2003 governor's race, when Jindal narrowly lost to Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Other candidates could join the fray ' speculation includes Public Service Commissioner and Democrat Foster Campbell, Republican state Sen. Walter Boasso and Shaw Group CEO and Democrat Jim Bernhard ' but Jindal has a sizable lead over Blanco in early polls. In a mid-January telephone poll of 600 Louisiana voters conducted by Southern Media & Opinion, Jindal received almost 59 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent for Blanco. Her political savvy can never be underestimated, but with the huge political albatross of her woefully ineffective Road Home program around her neck, Blanco's got an uphill climb ahead against Jindal. ' Scott Jordan
RECOVERY BOARD ADVANCING FISHERIES MONEY
The Louisiana Recovery Authority has restated its commitment to the state's battered fisheries by promising to include fishermen in a small business grant and loan program, and committing to a multi-million fund specifically for the industry. The LRA is also urging industry representatives to provide the recovery panel with specific guidance on how money should be spent on the fisheries. "We recognize that what fishermen need now is to get back onto the water," says Rene Cross, an LRA infrastructure task force member. "That's why it's so critical that we invest this money as wisely as possible."
The authority has outlined two major steps to attempt to address the needs of fishermen: A $138 million program to provide grants and loans directly to individual small businesses, including commercial fishing ventures; and a promise to allocate $20 million to help repair and replace damaged fisheries infrastructure, such as stranded boat recovery, engines, nets and new docks for fuel and ice. The Small Firm Loan and Grant Program was recently expanded by $100 million and redrafted to include single employer firms, like fishermen. It dedicates $100 million to direct grants of up to $20,000 per eligible applicant, and $38 million to provide no-interest loans up to $250,000. LRA Infrastructure Task Force Chair John T. Landry says the state is seeking other federal funding for fisheries as well. "We know $20 million is not enough, but there simply isn't enough to do all the things we need to do," he adds. ' Jeremy Alford
Look for members of Lil' Band O' Gold in the upcoming Best of the Beat Music Awards in New Orleans, which will honor Antoine "Fats" Domino with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. During the days following Hurricane Katrina, Domino was feared dead in the flood waters that engulfed his Lower Ninth Ward home. He was later rescued from his home, transferred to the Superdome and then Baton Rouge. Domino's now living in the New Orleans area.
Local guitarist and singer C.C. Adcock says members of Lil' Band of Gold will perform with the likes of Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins and Jon Cleary in honor of Domino, who's expected to attend the event. The 12th annual music awards ceremony in New Orleans is presented by OffBeat at the House of Blues on Saturday, Jan. 27. For more information, visit OffBeat's Web site. ' R. Reese Fuller
CHEAPER MEDS GETTING BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Sen. David Vitter, a Kenner Republican, has filed legislation ' called the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act ' that would permit Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from overseas. "Americans should be allowed access to these safe, affordable medicines through the Internet and mail order," Vitter says. On the House side, lawmakers voted last week to cut the cost of health care and improve access to medicines by requiring the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
"Even with the new Medicare Part D program, the cost of prescription drugs is crushing many seniors trying to get by on fixed incomes," says Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Democrat from Napoleonville who supported the move. "Seniors shouldn't have to choose between paying their rent, buying groceries, or getting the prescription drugs they need to survive and have a decent quality of life." Now all that's left is a way for the Senate and House to agree on how cheaper meds should be filtered down to citizens. ' JA
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.