The State of the Coast conference June 8 through June 10 at the River Center in Baton Rouge will have a whole new meaning next week as scientists, academics, state politicos and bureaucrats and others gather for three days of sessions devoted to restoring Louisiana’s fragile and now more imperiled than ever coastline.
Sponsored by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about 600 people are expected to attend what CRCL bills as an effort to “provide a forum to learn from recent advances in science and engineering as they relate to hurricane protection and ecosystem restoration in coastal Louisiana, to ensure that relevant and current knowledge is applied to existing and future coastal restoration and protection efforts, and to effectively inform policy and decision making.”
While that mission statement doesn’t mention is oil — the conference was planned long before the April 21 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Dr. Donald Davis, a retired LSU geography professor who has studied the coast and its people for more than 40 years, says the spill will surely seep into the conference in a big way.
“Now, superimposed upon [the conference] is what some are calling our ‘coast in crisis,’” Davis says. “We certainly have to be aware that this oil spill has been catastrophic.”
To find out more about Washed Away: The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana’s Wetlands or to purchase a copy, log on to the UL Lafayette Press Web site.
The author of the newly published Washed Away: The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana’s Wetlands, (UL Lafayette Press), will be one of many experts to attend the conference. His book — a historical, geographical and anthropological account of coastal Louisiana’s eco- and social systems and the complex interaction between the two — was going to press when the BP-leased rig exploded on April 21. The ensuing oil leak casts Davis research and book in a new light. “If the marsh goes under oil, how’s that going to affect the larvae?” Davis wonders. “What will that mean in 2011, 2014, 2020? Do we see a solution in one year? Does the science tell us?”
Next week’s conference will be an opportunity for some of the best thinkers in coastal preservation — engineers, geologists, geographers, biologists, hydrologists — to begin wrapping a collective mind around the crisis. Davis says that because of the unprecedented scope of the BP spill, more research is essential as we begin the long process of recovery after the well is finally capped. “We need more science,” he says. “It’s not like you can write a list and check it all off; we need much more science.”
To find out more about Washed Away: The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana’s Wetlands or to purchase a copy, log on to the UL Lafayette Press Web site. http://www.ulpress.org/home.php
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.