The Atchafalaya Basinkeeper organization and several other concerned citizen groups are making good on their promise to deliver swift legal action against the St. Martin Parish School Board and Good Hope Inc. for plans to log several acresof cypress-tupelo trees in Section 16 of the Atchafalaya Basin.
A notice of intent to file suit has been delivered to Good Hope Inc. President and CEO Vidal Davis, St. Martin Parish School Board President James Blanchard and Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater on behalf of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association–West, Sierra Club Delta Chapter and the Gulf Restoration Network. The notice was delivered by the collective citizen groups' counsel, Machelle Lee Hall of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
“This Notice of Intent is critical to stopping the cypress logging that is about to spread like wildfire all over the Basin,” says Dean Wilson of the nonprofit Atchafalaya Basinkeeper organization in an email sent with the official notice. “At a time when the state of Louisiana is asking for billions of dollars for wetland protection and coastal restoration, the state should be showing the nation that it is taking very seriously the protection of its wetlands and should be taking the lead on finding ways to stop the demise of the Atchafalaya's cypress forests.”
The notice cites violations under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a) for any illegal discharges of pollutants and fill material into the basin as a result of the logging process and building of access roads; the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1540(g)(1)(A), as the logging would encroach upon a critical habitat for the endangered Louisiana Black Bear. The notice also alleges a violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 41:1009, which prohibits cypress logging on state-owned water bottom land.
Relief sought from the groups include $37,500 dollars for each day of violation of the Clean Water Act; an injunction issued from a federal district court to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act; and an injunction to stop the sale and cutting of the cypress trees on state-owned water bottoms.
“Atchafalaya Basinkeeper will do anything within our power to stop the craziness of forever destroying our cypress forests for mulch,” declares Wilson. “It is as insane as making gravel out of the coliseum in Rome or selling Picassos as recycled paper.”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.