Wednesday, April 27, 2011

C’EST BON
Getting deadbeat parents to catch up with their child support payments will be less of a craps shoot beginning May 20. That’s when the state’s riverboats, racetrack slots and land-based casinos will begin running gambling winners through a state database to see who owes what. If a winner is set to walk away with $1,200 or more, his or her name will be compared to the state Department of Children and Family Services’ electronic database. And if his or her name appears in that database, those winnings will go first toward squaring the child-support debt. For its administrative toil, the gaming operator is awarded a $35 “administrative fee.” That’s a small price to pay to get deadbeat parents current on their payments.

PAS BON
While we were initially willing to accept that it got lost in the mail or misplaced, we’re beginning to feel like we got played. Attorney Richard Becker wrote a letter March 14 to the AG for an opinion on whether records for the partnership formed to develop Cypress Trails Apartments are a matter of public record, but the AG never received the request (and still had not by Monday of this week). Becker wrote the letter on behalf of the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority and in connection with last week’s cover story, “How Gachassin Games the System.” We know he wrote the letter, because he provided The Independent with a copy of it long before our April 20 story went to press. We had asked him to see the consulting contract between the publicly funded development and Greg Gachassin, a former LPTFA board member. The $10 million project is being funded in large part with low-income housing tax credits awarded to the LPTFA by the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. LPTFA is a trust organized under the laws of the state that holds millions in assets for the benefit of the city of Lafayette. It’s a public entity, and we’ll get the records.

COUILLON
Metairie Republican state Rep. John LaBruzzo’s wingnut bona fides are well established. From the solon who infamously embraced eugenics in past proposals to pay poor women to have their tubes tied while offering tax incentives for affluent couples to have more children — and whose race- and class-baiting bill to require state welfare recipients to submit to random drug tests is up for consideration in the current session — comes the most bare-assed play to the base yet: a bill that would ban all abortions in Louisiana, prescribing a five to 15 year prison sentence for patients and doctors. Bear in mind it’s often men penning these laws that threaten women’s reproductive health rights — rights countenanced by federal law. Louisiana already has on the books an abortion ban signed in 2006 by former Gov. Kathleen Blanco that piles on the indignity for rape and incest victims by forcing them to carry to term — and come to terms with — offspring that result from such depraved crimes. LaBruzzo’s bill preserves the “punish the victim” aspect of the Blanco-signed bill, and goes further, barring the use of emergency contraceptives like Plan B.

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