Barking up the wrong tree, traitors and more.
BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

As the state Legislature convenes in Baton Rouge to assess how the state will move forward following the most devastating hurricane season in history, one of the most pressing issues will be how to offest an estimated $960 million loss in tax revenue created by the hurricanes.

Gov. Blanco has already sliced about $500 million out of the budget through a statewide spending freeze and other cuts, largely to health care and higher education.

"I think it sends us a good message that she's willing to make the necessary cuts," says Lafayette state Sen. Mike Michot, who sits on the state Senate finance committee.

Michot says the state's current financial situation means it should try and find new ways to fund infrastructure and economic development projects, such as financing new roads through toll collections.

"We need to think outside the box," he says. "We need to take advantage of this situation and shrink the size of government."

As for the other hard-to-swallow news that the state will owe the federal government an estimated $3.7 billion for its share of hurricane recovery costs, Michot suggests that the feds shouldn't expect a check anytime soon.

"I say just don't pay it," he says. "The federal government's barking up the wrong tree. In a situation like this, we look to the federal government for help. They need to be helping us, not sending us a bill." ' Nathan Stubbs

TRAITORS!

Galatoire's decision to open a Baton Rouge location before getting its storied French Quarter restaurant back up and running is not sitting well with some New Orleanians. "Traitors," summed up New Orleans native John Currence in a New York Times story last week.

"After weeks of speculation, Baton Rouge has indeed scored a gastronomical coup with Galatoire's," wrote Baton Rouge-based Daily Report's Gary Perilloux, who said the famous restaurant has signed a seven-year lease for the former Caspian Grill on Perkins Road near Highland and I-10. Caspian Grill closed its operations and sold its furnishings and equipment to the Galatoire's venture, Baton Rouge Restaurant LLC.

Galatoire's hopes to begin serving in Baton Rouge before the holidays in the midst of an expansion of the 4,100-square-foot property to 7,000 square feet with 31 additional parking spaces, according to Daily Report.

Back in storm tattered New Orleans, Galatorie's diehards will have to wait till after the first of the year to booze it up over shrimp remoulade on Bourbon Street.

The Galatoire's news comes on the heels of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse's September decision to make permanent its temporary headquarters relocation from Metairie to Orlando, Fla. ' yet another symbolic gesture of desertion. ' Leslie Turk

LAFAYETTE, STATE TOURISM CAMPAIGN FEATURED IN USA TODAY

The Nov. 4 edition of USA Today newspaper helped send a message that the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission is feverishly trying to send to the rest of the world: Lafayette tourism is open for business. Local and state tourism officials are trying to combat the outside perception that the entire state flooded after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and the Louisiana Office of Tourism just launched a $550,000 ad campaign to attract out-of-state tourists. The article noted that area attractions such as swamp tours and nightclubs are open, and singled out Prejean's restaurant and 307 Downtown in its coverage. ' Scott Jordan

UL LAFAYETTE HOSTS POST-KATRINA LECTURE SERIES

A band of grassroots organizations is hosting a lecture series titled "Post-Katrina Environmental Issues" at UL Lafayette. Malcolm Suber, one of the organizers of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition, will give the first lecture, "The struggle to include poor and working class people in the reconstruction of New Orleans," at UL's Hamilton Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. The People's Hurricane Relief Fund Organization is dedicated to calling attention to environmental and social justice issues related to the hurricane rebuilding effort.

On Monday, Nov. 7, the group helped organize a march across the Crescent City Connection bridge to protest the scores of evacuees who were stopped by police from evacuating into Gretna in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

The lecture series is being sponsored by UL's Biology Department. More information on the People's Hurricane Relief Fund organization can be found at www.communitylaborunited.net. ' Nathan Stubbs

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