Arkansas oil spill: Exxon reacts to tax ‘loophole,’ pledges ‘to cover all costs’ — RT USA | A “loophole” regarding the classification of tar sands from a recent oil spill in Arkansas is notable because the substance is similar to what would be transported by the Keystone XL pipeline. “The central Arkansas spill caused by Exxon’s aging Pegasus pipeline has reportedly unleashed 10,000 barrels of Canadian heavy crude – but a technicality says it’s not oil, letting the energy giant off the hook from paying into a national cleanup fund.”
Mainstream Green Is Still Too White – COLORLINES | Former Lens staff writer Brentin Mock argues that top environmental groups’ “leadership and membership simply don’t reflect the race or socieconomic class of people most vulnerable to climate change’s wrath.”
Feds add teeth to offshore drilling safety mandates — Fuel Fix | This move may be more symbolic than the headlines suggest. Stop-work policies were already in place in most drilling operations around the U.S., including at the Macondo well before it became an out-of-control underwater oil gusher for three months in 2010.
Live blog: Orleans Parish School board retreat in Houston — The Lens | Education reporter Jessica Williams is covering the OPSB’s retreat in Houston, which is a public meeting despite being held five hours away.
Zack Kopplin on “Real Time With Bill Maher”: A Live-Blogging Extravaganza — CenLamar | Blogger Lamar White will do the play-by-play on science advocate Kopplin’s appearance on prime-time TV. The Lens was the first to profile the now-ubiquitous Kopplin.
Government & Politics
City paying hundreds of thousands to fight consent decree in court — WWLTV.com | In light of the mayor’s contention that the city can’t afford the federal consent decree to address deplorable conditions at Orleans Parish Prison, it will be interesting to track the city’s mounting legal fees. “Even before this week’s four-day fairness hearing on the parish prison consent decree, the city had paid more than $403,715 to outside attorneys to contest the documents.”
Once called governor’s ‘lap dog,’ House speaker yanks on his leash — The Lens | House Speaker Chuck Kleckley is showing new independence after he decided that a committee wouldn’t consider Bobby Jindal’s tax plan before House staff conducts a revenue analysis.
[Kleckley’s] resistance reflects the governor’s political weakness. … “I think he was tired of being out on a limb,” said Vic Stelly, who served four terms in the state House from Lake Charles and knows Kleckley well. “I guess Chuck said enough is enough.”
Right now Jindal’s plan seems to be, at best, on life support. Perhaps the governor could use some of the talking points I suggested recently?
Angry sheriff takes the stand, later accuses mayor of ‘Archie Bunker’ tactics | The Lens – If you read one article today, I’d recommend this one:
Embattled Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman testified in federal court today about a shocking video unearthed earlier this week depicting an out-of-control House of Detention in which inmates brazenly showed off drugs, cash, and a loaded Glock handgun.
Gusman’s testimony came as the city of New Orleans tries to convince U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk to let it out from under a proposed consent decree at the Orleans Parish Prison. The city contends that the cost of compliance — about $22 million a year for half a decade — will cripple city services and tip the precarious public safety situation in New Orleans ever closer to anarchy.
The video, Gusman explained, had been in a safe within the jail’s Special Operations Division until the city, and then the FBI, demanded that he produce it.
OP criminal court employee arrested on corruption charges — WWLTV.com | The head of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court community service office “was allegedly caught red-handed in a sting operation” and now faces corruption charges related to allegations that she took bribes to change official records.
Slow-mo house-moving saga: a status report on a what seemed a dandy idea — The Lens | Karen Gadbois looks at this frustrating process:
The latest round in this slow-motion saga involves ten houses that were offered to private housing agencies along with more than $1 million in public money to renovate them. The houses had been relocated in 2010 but stood open to the elements when the request for proposals went out to the non-profit housing community this past November. The lucky winners were selected with unaccustomed speed. The results to date? Inconclusive.
Working toward a renaissance for Kenner: Editorial — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Kenner boasts “affordable homes, an abundance of parks and relatively low taxes, but it is losing residents.” Why? Some believe it’s because the suburb lacks a sense of place. In other words, it’s like Oakland: There’s no “there” there. City officials are looking for solutions to the problem. This post at the “Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space” blog has some basic ideas to consider.