Wednesday, November 9, 2011

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For the second time this year a district court judge in Baton Rouge has put the kabosh on Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin’s bid to keep a 550-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger in captivity as a roadside attraction at his Grosse Tete business skirting Interstate 10. Last Wednesday Judge Mike Caldwell ruled that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries improperly exempted Sandlin from state-mandated permit requirements for big cats. It is the same ruling Caldwell issued in May — a ruling that was overturned by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal because Sandlin was not permitted to present his case for keeping the cat at the spring hearing. The court action stems from a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund against LDWF in a bid to get “Tony” freed from the truck stop and transferred to a more appropriate setting.

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It’s not surprising that Louisiana is among fewer than two dozen U.S. states that still allow corporal punishment in public schools. We have the highest incarceration rate in the nation, after all, so whuppin’ the childrens ain’t that big a deal. While Lafayette is one of 17 districts in the state in which paddling students is prohibited, neighboring St. Landry is one of the remaining 54 that doesn’t spare the rod, and last week, according to KATC, the principal at Sunset Elementary School embraced the policy with gusto. But the district requires parents to sign a waiver allowing their children to be paddled, and according to the TV station three eighth graders whose parents hadn’t countenanced the biblical prescription were nonetheless subjected to the bottoms-up dressing down. The transgression that reportedly earned the principal’s ire: being tardy for class.

The months-long search for a new superintendent in Lafayette Parish reached its most critical point yet last week when the Lafayette Parish School Board was tasked with interviewing the top field of applicants for the job. More interesting will be hearing board members Rae Trahan and Tommy Angelle join the discussions in narrowing down the top candidates to two or three choices, considering that Trahan did not attend a single interview and Angelle attended one and a half. Board member Greg Awbrey came in a distant third on interview attendance, sitting through four of the 10 presentations from candidates. That board members could not make time to attend the most important segment of a monumental step regarding Lafayette Parish schools speaks volumes on the state of our system. What could prove more intriguing is whether the hectic schedules of Angelle and Trahan will allow the two to travel on the taxpayer-funded trips to the districts of the top three superintendent candidates.

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