Just a few days before Christmas, one of many negotiations between BP and the state gave way to a $2.56 million agreement that will cover losses associated with the sale of recreational fishing licenses and oyster tags.
The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries contends that it is due the corporate loot due to the retail lull that followed the April 20 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which claimed 11 lives, polluted the Gulf of Mexico with millions of gallons of crude and essentially halted economic development along Louisiana’s shore.
Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says the agreement is timely because many anglers around the world are still under the impression that Louisiana’s waters are toxic and vacant of recreational opportunities. “This marks a critical step on the road to recovery for (the department) and Louisiana’s fishing communities,” he says. “These funds are especially crucial now, more than ever, as our department continues to fulfill its mission, while also working to help fishing communities rebound from the impact of the BP oil spill.”
The negotiations between BP and the department were overseen by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Barham adds. The state’s argument was one of mathematics: Once the oil catastrophe commenced in early spring and temporary fishing was announced, the department suffered a loss of nearly $1.7 million from a decline in recreational fishing license sales alone.
But that’s just the beginning. The department also saw a loss of $450,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which channels money back to the states based on sales and several other factors, and more than $200,000 in revenue from a dip in oyster tag sales.
Historically, June through October is the high season for recreational fishing license sales. Yet, with the oil spill in play, these sales decreased from nearly $7.3 million in 2009 to approximately $5.5 million this year — roughly a 24-percent nosedive.
As for how BP and the state agreed on $2.56 million, BP analyzed revenue from recreational fishing license and oyster tag sales in March and April of 2009 to create a projection that was applied to sales this year, according to an explanation provided by the state. By doing so, the exercise yielded what revenues would have likely been had the BP event never occurred. BP officials then subtracted the actual revenue from the projected amount to determine lost revenue.
Barham says officials with his department continue to work with BP on claims to fund an oyster cultch program and a saltwater hatchery. But no plans are final as of yet. Earlier this year, the department announced previous agreements with BP for a $13 million fisheries impact study, $18 million for seafood safety monitoring and testing and $30 million for seafood safety marketing efforts.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
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.
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.